10 January 2012

Ben Hur: a Z-Guide Review

Until just recently I have never before used a movie guide myself, nor incorporated one into our homeschool studies.  However, I am hooked!  What an awesome way to bring your history lessons to life.  I've always thought it was fun to watch a movie that corresponded to a school lesson, but a movie guide adds a whole other dynamic.  

We had the opportunity to review the Z-Guide for Ben Hur from Zeezok Publishing.  It was a perfect fit since we are currently studying Ancient Rome (I love it when things work out like that!).  And I was really excited because I had never watched Ben Hur before and neither had my husband.  So we were all able to enjoy it for the first time together as a family.  

First of all I downloaded the Z-Guide from Zeezok.  All of their guides (which do not include the actual movies) are available as an e-book (pdf) or on cd.  Next we began our guide.  It's very simple to use.  It had a 5-day plan with 2 activities per day.  It's always nice when something is all planned out for you!  

Before we watched the movie (which I borrowed from my parents) we read the topic overview, movie synopsis and the movie review questions.  It was a good exercise for the kids to pay attention closely to the dialog in order to be able to answer the review questions.  The rest of the guide is full of related activities such as puzzles, crafts, creative writing exercises, research projects, reading comprehension, critical thinking summary and more.  

I really like the *For Family Discussion* section which gives some great questions.  Our family would often pause the movie to talk about what was happening or why a decision was a bad choice in the storyline.  There's a lot to talk about in the story of Ben Hur and the kids really got a lot out of it.  I wondered if my 6-year-old son would get into it much--besides the chariot race--but he was zoned in!  Occasionally he would turn and say things like "This is a really sad story" or "This is very interesting!".  It took us three nights to watch it, but the kiddos couldn't wait to watch the movie and then answer the guide questions about it.  We are thoroughly enjoying the additional activities as well.    

Having the guide was very beneficial to making the movie more of an education experience and not just one for pleasure.  Of course, it helped that we reviewed a movie that brought to life our current history lessons.  

I have been browsing Zeezok's other movie guides and absolutely love that they have them categorized by times in history.  They also offer more than one guide for some movies, so that there is a guide for younger ages and high school as well.  I look forward to including more of these guides into our lesson plans.  They are a great addition to history books!  You can look at a sample Z-Guide here.

They're also very affordable at $12.99 each.  You can also purchase the movies on dvd through Zeezok, but of course you can rent them or borrow from the library just as easily.  

This has been one of my favorite items to review this year and I definitely recommend checking them out!

Disclaimer:  I received this Z-Guide through The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew and Zeezok Publishing free of charge in exchange for my unbiased and honest review.  

See what other homeschool parents had to say about their Z-Guides here.


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