A2Z Homeschool – Ann's Blog

Homeschooling From Ann's Perspective

Tips for Keeping Kids Engaged on a Car Trip



We’re planning an extensive and interesting vacation this summer by car…

…visiting historical sites, national parks, and other points of interest. Can you give us tips for keeping the kids, ages 10, 12, and 16, engaged?

Also, can our teenager get credit for some of the stuff he does on our vacation?


What a great plan! Keeping spirits up is so important. Do allow some “down time,” too.

Take tips from families who are full-time traveling homeschoolers. These families are on the go in their RVs, boats, and even bicycles for months on end. They are the masters of homeschooling on the road.

While many kids are very much into their electronics while traveling in a car, sometimes it is also fun to have the whole family engaged in looking out the windows. That’s why I’ve gathered this list of car games. There is also a version you can export to your cell phone so you have it along with you. Some games do require you print something out ahead of time.

As for your 16 year old, they could work on studying for their driver’s permit on the road when you are in areas that get cell reception. If they already have their permit, your teen could help out with some of the driving. (Please check with the jurisdiction that you will driving in to determine their laws with respect to out of state permits). In the early stages of learning to drive I allowed our son to drive through a redwood tree along the Avenue of the Giants (Redwood forest) at about 25 MPH. It is something he’ll never forget – he didn’t knock down even one of them!

Everyone should be involved with care of the car, doing specific jobs at each gas fill-up. Fill the tank, check the oil, wash the windows, take out the trash… make your own list.

Learn to use whatever navigation system you prefer to use.

Fill an iPod or two full of music and audiobooks.

Prepare and learn to use emergency kits: one for the car and one for the people. Make a plan for what you’ll do should you get in an accident or get separated.

At the natural areas, I’m assuming you’ll want to take day hikes. Here are some tips for hiking with kids.

Homeschoolers around the USA and Canada have helped me compile lists and links to their favorite field trip venues. Plan to swing through some of these places! Toward the bottom of that page there are links to special topic areas. Some sections of the land are great for finding out everything about, say, dinosaurs, aviation, or the Colonial Period.

As you travel and visitor centers beckon, do pick up materials to continue their interests when you return home. If the items aren’t small, see if the items can be shipped home, or visit their website, and toss items into an online shopping cart to finalize when you get home. You may also save money on impulse buys that way.

Consider some ongoing unit studies. When we did our trip cross country, we did “water tasting,” much as some might do wine tasting. We kept notes of where we were when we got water to drink, and how the water smelled and tasted. There are some places where the water tasted like sulfur!

Another fun topic is ice cream. Think of ice cream as a chemistry experiment. Avoid the big chains, and ask where the best local ice cream can be found.

An ice cream ball can be bought ahead of time and taken along. Bring the rock salt and vanilla, too. Ice can be gotten anywhere soda can be found, or from hotel ice machines. You’ll need to stop for half-and-half, too. Stop at fruit stands to make ice cream or sorbets with whatever is available.

Take photographs. Photography is an art form that can thrill for a lifetime. I download camera and photography manuals and ebooks to my iPad, so if I need tips on how to take a photo in a special situation, I’ll have it at my fingertips. Google your camera manufacturer, model number, and the word ‘manual.”

Have a wonderful time!

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Merry Christmas to All!


It was an truly remarkable Christmas Eve Service at Sunnyhills United Methodist Church here in Milpitas.

An almost one year old little Filipino boy, Samuel, was baptized. He kept looking around so fast our minister had a hard time finding a place to do the dabbing of the water! His “almost” speeches during the baptism kept smiles on our faces.

Then a long-time lesbian member had a special announcement, invited her dear friend up to join her and gave her a diamond ring and asked her to be hers for a lifetime. When she said, “yes” there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. We’ve all come so far.

A singing family from Sunnyvale joined us. The father has a lovely, deep bass voice, but leaned on a cane. We got talking to him afterwards. He had had a stroke, which had ended his days as a world-class cellist, but he still could sing!

A group of us read parts of the Christmas story, interspersed with solos, choir pieces, and congregational caroles.

Our reconciling congregation packed the halls. They sang “Silent Night” as we in the choir sang “Peace, Peace,” as we have in many years in the past. At least the world has a little greater chance at Peace now with the START treaty confirmed.

Got home to a cat who KNEW something was “UP!” He was sneaking quietly under the Christmas tree, reassuring us that he was ready to stand watch over the presents or anyone trying to bring in any more! Catnip wasn’t under there yet, so surely there would be more coming!

Ann Zeise

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Protected: Heather Idoni sued over Reporting Fraudulent Virtual School


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Vote For Homeschooler’s Doodle4Google Art


Hannah Newsom is a 10th grade homeschool student from Arkansas. She has become a regional winner in the doodle4google art competition! From thousands of entries from across the nation, a panel of professional judges narrows it down to 400 and then down to the 40 regional winners. Now the competition goes public and anyone can vote online.

From the 4 students with the most votes, the finalist will be chosen and will receive a $15,000 college scholarship. The 40 regional winners will have their art work displayed at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and will be attending an awards ceremony in New York City next week.

Since Hannah is a homeschool student she doesn’t have the backing of a large school like many of the other contestants. So, we hope you will be her school and vote for her and help us get the word out to your friends, family, co-workers, etc.

Voting ends on Tuesday, 25th. It takes just a minute to cast your ballot!

How to Vote

  1. Go to doodle4google.com
  2. click “Vote Now”
  3. click “grade 10-12”
  4. click “Region 7”
  5. Hannah’s doodle is entitled “Dawn of Hope”
  6. click on “Vote for this doodle”

Of course, we’d be so excited if she won! Wouldn’t it be great if a homeschooler won this national competition?

Thank you so much!
Lisa Newsom

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Obituary for Shirley Peterson, My Mother


Shirley Pollard Peterson

May 1, 1921 – January 20, 2010
Died in Colorado Springs, CO. Formerly of Walnut Creek, Oakland and Piedmont, CA.
Shirley was born in Oakland, California to Frank and Sadie Pollard.  She graduated from Piedmont High School (1939) and the University of California, Berkeley (1943).  While at Cal she majored in Public Speaking and was a Pi Beta Phi.  After graduation she worked for the Navy on Treasure Island and with her father’s manufacturing business.  One of the heartaches of her life was the lost of her younger brother Frank “Bud” Pollard Jr., an Army Air Pilot, during World War II.

As President of the Oakland Junior League she helped found the Oakland Junior Center of Arts. She was the first recipient of the Rosalie M. Stern award for outstanding volunteer work by a Berkeley graduate. In 1968 Shirley took on the job of the first “development person” with the Head Royce School. During her five year tenure she was intricately involved in the transition into the co-ed institution now known as the Head-Royce School.  She then helped her husband found and operate a construction company until their retirement. She was an active volunteer at both Piedmont Community Church and LOPC.

Shirley married her high school sweetheart, the late Alden “Pete” Peterson on January 17, 1947.  They were the proud parents of Ann Alden Zeise (Fred) of Milpitas, CA; Frank Pollard Peterson (Sue) of Missoula, MT,  and Carol Peterson Hennekens (Dave) of Colorado Springs, CO.  They were blessed with five grandchildren (Sara Dodge Ellsworth, Travis Peterson, Scott Zeise, Dustin Peterson and Colton Peterson) and two step-grandchildren (Ellyece Hennekens Hammer and Derek Hennekens).  Gavin Dodge Ellsworth was her one beloved great-grandchild.  Mom always considered her family to be her greatest accomplishment.

Pete and Shirley retired to Rossmoor in Walnut Creek where they lead an active life of golf, swimming, Rotary and various family and social activities.  Much of their time was spent at their mountain retreat in Graeagle, California.  Shirley was a devoted caregiver for Pete during his fight with cancer which ended in 1996.  She was a strong and independent widow who traveled and organized many events for family and friends.
When her health declined in 2005, she moved to Colorado Springs to be near her daughter Carol.  She enjoyed several years of independent living at Liberty Heights.  In this last year, she lived with Carol and Dave.  Many wonderful caregivers, most notably Karla Campbell, made her final days comfortable.   She “caught her bus” as she was known to say, in the gentle care of Pikes Peak Hospice after a brief final illness.

In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to the National Fibromyalgia Association, 2121 South Towne Centre Place, Suite 300, Anaheim, CA 92806, or a charity of your choice.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 13, at 2 p.m. at the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church, 49 Knox Dr. Lafayette, CA. Reception will follow.

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