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TOS Crew Review — Zeezok movie review

April 1st, 2011

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Great books and great movies need to be savored. A quick viewing, or a quick read through might be enjoyable, but you will get far more out of a book or movie if you take some time to discuss the contents and participate in activities intended to draw out the meaning and experiences in the story.

Zeezok has taken films with educational value and created movie guides to accompany them. These can easily fill a week of activities or be spread out over a few weeks. Students should view the movie, and possibly even read or listen to the book as well before or during the completion of the other suggested activities.  We did choose to listen to the audio book during our car rides so we could all have a good comparison of both the book and movie, although the guide is based on the movie.

The movie and book that we studied was My Side of the Mountain. It tells the story of a boy, Sam Gribley who went out into the mountains to try to prove himself as an outdoorsman. He lives on his own, relying on his naturalist know-how to survive. We loved how he trained a falcon to help him hunt food. He made clothes of deer skin and stored up provisions for the long, cold winter that would come to the mountains. The story tells of the challenges of living away from civilization and modern day conveniences and prompted lots of conversation in our house about what it would be like to live on your own like that. Some of my kids would jump at the chance (but probably be home by dinner), and others had no desire to prove anything by leaving the comforts of home. Either way, we enjoyed learning from Sam Gribley’s experiences.

Product: My Side of the Mountain Movie Guide

Details: A downloadable 32 page teacher’s guide to lead students through a middle-school unit study based on the movie My Side of the Mountain.

Price: $12.99

What we loved . . .

  • Movie day! I don’t use videos or movies as part of my teaching day very often, so for my kids to watch a movie as part of class was pretty exciting. Brought back memories of junior high science and the thrill of a period “off” when you saw the tell-tale movie or slide projector in the back of the room. Well before the day of DVDs, of course.
  • Interactive. After viewing the movie we got to dig into the guide and the suggested activities. While many of the activities were discussions of various aspects of the movie and related topics, they did also have a good representation of activities that required internet research, drawing, creative writing, outdoor observation, and other related tasks.
  • Great for the whole family. While this is geared toward middle school kids, we watched the movie together and read the book together. We also enjoyed some of the discussions in the movie guide together. Some of the topics obviously got a little over the younger one’s heads, but they all participated at some point. The young ones definitely enjoyed the nature walk and discussion of wilderness survival.
  • Summaries and answer keys. No good teacher’s guide could be without an answer key and summaries to jog your memory. They had helpful recaps of sections of the movie and had all the answers so I knew if my kids were on the right track.
  • Well designed. The movie guide gives you the activities and one option for going through the activities. Families could easily tweak the topics and cover them in a different order or more slowly if desired. Using all the activities would definitely give the viewer a good background to the various issues, animals, and characters in the movie, and book
  • Worldview discussion. We are really big on worldview discussion in our house, so I was excited to see a discussion outline centered specifically around worldview. This took the movie to a personal level and helps draw out some of the philosophical undertones in the film and book. I would have liked to see even more in this area including exploration of the worldview of Thoreau and possibly the movie director.

Some considerations . . .

  • You will need other materials. Obviously, if you are doing a movie guide you will need to get your hands on the movie as the whole basis for the study. We easily found a copy at our library.
  • This book/movie talks about Thoreau. They focus mostly on his naturalist abilities, but in the movie guide it has an activity which involves memorizing a passage from Thoreau’s book, Civil Disobedience. While it is an interesting passage to discuss (focusing on the responsibility of the individual over the government), I would have rather read and discussed it and left the memory work to Psalm 19 or some passage of Scripture recognizing God’s handiwork in nature.

These movie guides (there are many others available) would add a little pop to many topics of study. Using these guides and the corresponding movies, families can enjoy a change of pace and some interesting conversation. We found it easy to incorporate into our other lessons and enjoyable for each of the kids to participate and learn. Check out their other movie guides as well to see if one might fit a subject you currently have in your studies. And, check out the other reviews since many different movie guides were received and reviewed by other crew members.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through Zeezok as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.



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