A Learning Activity for Father’s Day
by Alan Haskvitz
National Teachers Hall of Fame

Father’s Day is an opportunity for a fun, yet meaningful lesson, but also time to be mindful that not all children are living with a father. Although there are a variety of activities that largely revolve around creating a poem or a craft that can be given as a gift a more notable lesson can make it learning relevant. Before starting the teacher needs to see which students don’t have fathers at home. These students may elect to send this card to any male in their family. The teacher should discuss this matter with the students first so that there aren’t any hurt feelings. A call home may also be in order.

Once this is accomplished the students create a card such as the one here:

The My Hero Theme is an excellent one, but the heroic figures that the student uses needs to be their own. Research on five or so of famous male heroes in history enables this activity to be a true learning activity as well.

To start the lesson the students research famous men in history. The make a list of their character traits and what they accomplished. They decide on which five have the traits that the “father” in their live might have. Next give them a blank card. This can be simply cut poster paper, a large index card or something more elaborate. On the front they write the names of the five men and what they accomplished. They can also consider drawing or printing out pictures to place next to the names.

On the inside cover the student writes “Happy Father’s Day” with some art work of their own making.
On the third page that write, You have the traits of these famous men in history. After they list the name they write the trait and what that person accomplished. For example, you remind me of John Muir because you love the outdoors (http://www.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/life/muir_biography.aspx)
and you remind me of John Glenn because you encourage me to meet new challenges
and you are like Martin Luther King, Jr. because you believe all people are equal

On the back page the student can create a poem to their father.
The result is an activity that is requires new learning and is most appreciated by the parent or guardian because it is unique.

Sites with relevant lessons

History of Father’s Day

Most Famous Fathers in Literature
For older students. They need to read the book,
A short version of famous literature fathers-day

Lessons for all levels

ESL lessons

Mainly primary arts and crafts

Link site to a variety of Father’s Day lessons and activities

Statistics about Fathers
These could be used as the bases for a math activity

Mazda 3 Hatchback: A Fountain of Youth
by The Car Family

Highly rated, eager to please, and with an abundance of perkiness, the Mazda 3 hatchback is a hoot to drive. In other words, this Mazda is a mobile fountain of youth where even a short journey can be entertaining. What this funmobile offers is a chance to relive your youth when money was tight and a good bike could get you most anywhere. And, just as your first bicycle, it handles well, is great for short trips or longer adventures, and is easy to maneuver. In other words, Mazda has another hit on its hands using the basic principle of providing enjoyable transportation at an attractive price point. As for the Mazda 3 hatchback, you get all of that plus versatility and there is even room for your bike in the cargo bay.

The Mazda has a starting price well under $20,000, but you can expect a loaded version to push close to $30,000. For that price you get an 184-hp 2.5-liter engine with a standard six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic, the Mazda Connect infotainment system with a touchscreen 7-inch monitor, a technology package and more. Just as importantly, owners are going to be able to enjoy a vehicle that is nimble with excellent driving dynamics, and an engaging character. The hatchback also gives exceptional fuel mileage that can reach nearly 40 mpg on the highway, and good resale value.
Mazda 3 Touring Hatchback

Mom’s view: Youthful, you bet, but the Mazda also comes with a reminder of the costs of exuberance with a bit of torque steer, a ride that can be noisy over unkempt roads, and some instrumentation that takes a while to master starting with the start/stop button hidden beneath the wiper stalk. Regardless, get the Skyactiv engine and chassis. They are well worth the additional cost with superior performance that brings the Mazda 3 alive. The interior is fairly luxurious, subdued and roomy with comfortable seats in front and 60/40-split folding rear seats. Safetywise our test vehicle had anti-lock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front side and curtain airbags as well as a rearview camera and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts. Crash test scores were excellent, a rarity in the compact segment. Mazda has made finding the fountain of youth as close as your Apple wallet.

Dad’s view: The 6-speed manual in our test car was among the best of shifting of any vehicle The clutch was forgiving, and the extra 29 more horsepower of the Skyactiva over the standard 2.0 was well worth the two miles per gallon penalty at the pump. Visibility is excellent, but the available blind-spot monitoring is a must. Mazda also offers an option that stops the vehicle to prevent low speed frontal crashes. Our loaded test vehicle was totally enjoyable with gas mileage hovering around 30 mpg in largely urban driving. Although the 3 is more engaging with a standard transmission, I would recommend the automatic transmission with its Sport” mode if you face a daily commute and the heads-up speedometer display was a blessing keeping as the gauges are a bit small.

Young working man’s view: Don’t leave the dealership without a thorough understanding of how the rotary selection knob between the front seats works. It isn’t complicated, but it takes practice. The standard four speaker stereo is acceptable, but not exceptional. Mazda also has USB and auxiliary inputs. Carefully consider the many optional features such as Bluetooth, cruise control, navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sweet nine-speaker Bose sound upgrade, a moonroof, and a rearview camera to individualize your Mazda. I quite liked the idea of the hatchback and with interest rates so low it is possible to possess one for under ten bucks a day. That is my price point.
Young working woman’s view: There are six models, but my recommendation is to go with the Touring models. If you can afford it, the premium Grand Touring models have Mazda’s regenerative-braking system to improve fuel mileage, the Smart City Brake Support, a radar-based cruise control, and lane-departure warning. There was even active grill shutters. Regardless, this Mazda is always entertaining and ready for whatever challenge comes your way, whether it is a canyon run, daily commute, or vacation trip.. I liked the little, but the low height made it a bit difficult to enter and exit while wearing a dress. The 3 hatchback has a clean, uncluttered look with the variety of options and forms making it easy to individualize to your taste. I can see why it is top choice in the compact category.

Family conference: Recapturing your youth or just in the market for a well rounded, comfortable family vehicle, the Mazda four door hatchback delivers. Mazda offers less expensive versions of the 3 that might make a better choice if you don’t need the extra room of the hatchback. Our recommendations is that if you love to drive and still need room for the dog the 3 is for you. An amusing vehicle that brings out the youth in its owners. Add high resale, good gas mileage, and you have a practical time machine.

Last Year for Prius Plug-In; Hopefully not Forever
The Car Family

Good-Bye Old Friend

Good-Bye Old Friend

Toyota is making some bold moves lately, and we aren’t talking about pulling up stakes in California and moving to Texas, but it ending production of its much loved, but pricey, Prius Plug-In. The 2015 will be the last year for this model as Toyota looks to rethink, redesign, and reimagine what The Car Family believes was the best commuter car you could buy. Period.

To give you an example of what the model provided, it got a real world, daily use, mixed driving use, multiple driver use, 67 mpg average. The electric bill was only $4 extra a month using the off-peak hours feature. And, in some states the Plug-In was eligible for the coveted high occupancy permit saving an average of ten to twenty minutes of travel time on a typical commute. Add to that the high resale value, about 60 percent after three years, the exceptional cargo capacity, ease of loading, and ability to be parked in the smallest of spaces and you have a winner.

That being said, Toyota is facing more competition and is apparently rethinking the extra engineering and cost of a plug-in version to the insanely popular Prius. The cost of this option has already placed the plug-in over $5000 of the price of a Camry hybrid, although the Camry didn’t have the plug-in feature.

We shall miss what Plug-in owners affectionately call the PIP, and wonder how many potential buyers were opt for a non-Toyota product to replace it. One thing for sure, Toyota has weighed that decision well and is apparently willing to gamble that a new, improved version may attract PIP owners back into the fold in a few years. Stay tuned.

Subaru XV Crosstrek: Athletic, Adorable, and Affordable
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/

The Subaru XV Crosstrek is a CUE mighty mite of a vehicle with a plethora of useful features that make it both handy and fun. The hatchback offers all wheel drive, over eight inches of ground clearance, an EyeSight active safety option that uses cameras and sensors to provide active cruise control, lane-departure warnings, and pre-collision braking. Essentially, what Subaru created a mini Forester. The smaller Crosstrek cost less, starting at $22,000 and gets an estimated 34 highway mpg. This handy CUE opens up access to the desert, beach, and mountains while still retaining its creature comforts. Want to test your endurance, with good driving habits you could make a 400 mile round trip without refueling. The Subaru has the ability to go off-road, handle inclement weather (it could happen) and still park in the smallest space. It is both affordable and athletic. Adding to that appeal are a variety of features for those who enjoy the outdoors with bike and ski racks, roof-mounted cargo carriers, electric outlets and handy dog hauling options.


Mom’s view: An interesting offering, the Crosstrek is ideal for the young at heart in terms of cost and utility. The ride is very compliant and stable with a nice heft to the steering. The engine creates 148-horsepower and Subaru uses a continuously variable automatic transmission to maximize the powerplant’s potential. A five speed manual is also offered. Although smooth and economical to operate, the four cylinder engine isn’t designed with high speed driving in mind. Safetywise, Subaru offers its EyeSight safety package with adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning and more. Very worthwhile. Overall, a very cute, comfortable and capable CUV for the young at heart. Well priced and cute.


Dad’s view: Subaru’s Symmetrical all-wheel drive provides reassuring grip at all times with very little fuel cost. The body makes no apologizes to it big brother, the Forester, even copying the lower body panels that help protect the exterior when traversing unpaved roads. There are three Crosstrek versions; the base, Premium, and Limited. Each model each adds a little more to the mix. Subaru offers two versions of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive in the XV Crosstrek. With the 5-speed manual transmission, the AWD system uses a viscous-coupling locking center differential to distribute torque. The Crosstrek is very car-like to drive and is quick on its feet thanks to an aggressive accelerator pedal.. The electric steering is responsive, headroom quite good, and the overall impression is one of being in a very comfortable and capable vehicle with excellent visibility. It may not be fast, but using the paddle shifters to keep the engine on boil is entertaining.

Young working male’s view: The Starlink infomainment is user friendly and makes the Subaru the equal to others in its class. New this year is the STARLINK Multimedia system that provide an array of music and information sources and a seven inch touch screen display. Sound, phone, and information are all handled with this application. If you live in the mountains or frequent colder climates, I would order the All Weather Package that includes heated seats and outside mirrors, plus a windshield de-icer. Other options worth considering are the safety laden EyeSight program, a moonroof, touch-screen navigation, and keyless entry and start. Since I haul a lot of equipment I would opt for the Crosstrek’s big brother, the Forester.

Young working woman’s view: A low entry height is appreciated when wearing a dress and the seats are quite comfortable. The Crosstrek can hold four adults and, when the rear 60/40-split rear seatbacks are folded, the Subaru yields a flat load floor with nearly 52 cubic feet of cargo space. There are some clever storage compartments that can hold a variety of small items, including a cell phone, and the rear hatch opens easily. Entry and exit are a little tight due to the size of the door openings, but once inside there is room to stretch out. The tilt/telescoping steering makes it easy to find a good driving posit ion. Subaru even has door pockets designed to hold drink bottles. The Crosstrek received good crash test scores and wraps you in a cushioned cocoon with a driver’s knee airbag, standard front side pelvis/torso airbags and side curtain airbags that offer front and rear outboard seat coverage. The airbags have sensors to determine front air bag deployment strength as well. Subaru claims that the roof is strong enough to hold at least four times the vehicle’s own weight should that be worth a bar bet. Interestingly, the Crosstrek has a brake assist system that detects how quickly the driver has pressed the pedal, and if pedal velocity exceeds a certain threshold, it applies pressure to increase braking effectiveness. Subaru even offers a system that cuts engine power when the brake and accelerator are pressed simultaneously. The Crosstek is for the young at heart.

Family conference: We have recommend Subaru products for several years for many reasons. First, the cost is very reasonable for all wheel drive vehicle. Secondly, the hatchback design makes it easy to load and very dog friendly with a low hop-in height. Thirdly, the gas mileage is excellent compared to similar vehicles. Finally, it is ideally suited to so many outdoor activities while still being a comfortable and frugal daily driver with an adorable, love me look.

Lexus CT 200h: Thrifty, Nimble, and Stylish
For more reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/

An inexpensive Lexus might sound like an oxymoron, but that is what the Lexus CT 200 h is and with it comes the attributes the marque has brought to buyers including vehicle quality and buyer satisfaction ratings that top the charts, as well as a frugality usually associated with the ubiquitous Toyota Prius. Of course, there are some caveats with this Lexus and they are in it diminutive size and it performance. Nevertheless, if you want a good looking hatchback that can get you a combined 42 mpg with the Lexus treatment the CT is your only choice. Helping make it an interesting choice is the utility of its four-door hatchback body style that make it an ideal choice for commuting, runs to the vet, or a weekend escape. 2014_Lexus_CT_200h_020

The CT 200h is very athletic and trim making it capable of being piloted through crowded mall parking lots as well as canyon runs with equal aplomb. Don’t expect exuberant response because the 134 horsepower engine is designed with economy in mind. The good news is that the pricing of this Lexus is exceptional. Indeed, you can acquire this Lexus for less money a well equipped Prius, although the latter may have more interior space and better fuel ratings. The Lexus comes standard with alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors and puddle lamps, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Siri Eyes Free technology that connects to select smartphones and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and a USB/iPod interface. Options include a Seat Comfort, and Premium, Leather, Navigation package features a rearview camera, voice-controlled navigation system, Display Audio and F Sport package for those who want the go fast look.

Mom’s view: The CT is an interesting four passenger hatchback that has a cool, almost retro look. Very intuitive and its hybrid feature makes commuting effortless. Although the ride height is quite low, the visibility is good and the turning radius tight enough to make U-turns effortless. Safetywise, the Lexus has antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, and airbags everywhere. Lexus’ telematics system automatically provides collision notification, stolen-vehicle location and emergency assistance. Most importantly, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the CT 200h its highest rating of “Good” in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength, and for whiplash protection. Overall, you get a Lexus that does most everything well at a bargain price.

Dad’s view: Power for the 2015 Lexus CT 200h hybrid isn’t overwhelming, but when the electric motors and gasoline engine are united freeway merging and passing aren’t a concern. The CVT is excellent and keeps the 98-horsepower 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine on task. Handling is a good as most hybrids, especially the good feel of the steering and brakes. Very competent for what it is. The ride is compliant, but don’t expect the same level of quietness that is in the more expensive Lexus models. Still, it is enjoyable to drive and grows on you. The CT is like a secret that more people should know about as it provides a fun ride with frugality, exceptional suspension, comfort and quality of the Lexus brand without the big bottom line.

Young working woman’s view: The controls are fairly easy to master, but the control for the info-entertainment entries takes a while to learn as it uses a unique mouse-like interface and a joystick to move the cursor on the screen. It provides excellent feel, though. Interestingly, despite its size, the backseat has an amazing amount of leg and head room. The doors, however, are a bit slim so entry wearing a dress requires some practice. The glovebox and door pockets are diminutive, but the backseats can be folded down to provide access to nearly 35 cubic feet of cargo area. I really liked the smoothness of the CT as it switched between electric and gas modes and auto stop-start functions smoothly. BMW and Porsche could learn from Lexus in this regard. You can select three different driving modes from normal for day to day outings, Eco for crowded commuting, and Sport for a more aggressive feel.

Young married man’s view: Finally got hitched and this would make a fine addition to the family. The CT has several features I admire such where Lexus claimed to use bamboo speaker frames and trim items made from plant materials. Although it looks small, once inside it does not feel that way. With the requirement that all news cars have backup cameras next year I was surprised that this was still part of an option package on the CT. That aside, I found the optional voice-command HDD tilt-screen navigation system with remote controller, the Enform emergency notification system, NavTraffic to be easy to use and quick to respond. The joystick control actually provides feel as you move it about. Very cool.

Family conference: The 2015 Lexus CT 200h is the most affordable Lexus with a starting around $33,000 and we have seen some models well loaded for this price. For that you get a handy little rig that enjoys pleasing its owner whether it is sipping fuel, parking in the smallest of spaces, or just making you proud every time you enjoy the many luxury features. A great way to reduce your carbon footprint, too.

Frugal Family Friendly Vehicles
The Car Family

Residents of the Pacific Palisades love their vehicles with over 70 percent owning two more more. Added to that is the fact that residence turnover rate is very low and you have a well established community, but one that still has over 3000 households with children under 18, according to Census data. With that in mind, and the 30 minute average commute time, we found a variety of family friendly vehicles that are capable of 30 mpg and are priced under $30,000. In other words, you don’t have to be rich to afford these fuel frugal vehicles.

If you are looking for something different, the revised Mitsubishi Outlander has enough electronics to make an eight-year-old happy. Everything from dual 12 volt outlets to a 6.1 inch touch sensitive monitor help keep you in touch and the all-wheel drive capabilities provide some security when heavy rains occur, if memory serves us. The high seating position offers a view of the traffic jams ahead and the optional Rockford-Fosgate 710 Watt stereo can help win the decibel battle with motorcycles and pother motorists who desperately want to share their music with you. Prices start around $28,000.

As large as the Impala is the Kia Rio isn’t, and that goes for the price, which is about $17,000. for the SX. The best things about the Rio is that it is easy to park, maneuver, and you can get over 35 mpg with the manual transmission and a light foot. Despite the price, the Rio has an abundance of safety features including the usual array of airbags, traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes and hill assist control, which is ideal given the step grades in some sections of town. The Kia Rio has a controlled ride and the engine is potent enough for legal speeds. There is an plethora of standard equipment including Bluetooth. Go with the hatchback version over the sedan and you can carry even more cargo. Highly rated with a pleasing look, the shapely Rio is worthy of the keep the Palisades beautiful motto.

In nearly the same price bracket of the Kia is Nissan’s popular Sentra SR. It can provide up to an estimated 39 mpg on the highway, but realistically you are looking at around 34. The continuous variable transmission and four-cylinder engine are refined and there is room for four adults, but its
real trumps card are its looks, interior treatments, spacious trunk and rear seat room and easy to master optional navigation and stereo controls.

Another worthy SUV is the Hyundai Santa Fe LTD AWD, which carries a $34,850 list price and that includes an enormous number of standard features that would be extra cost options on the competition. The Santa Fe has three rows of seats and a powerful engine that can be nursed enough to get an average of 25 mpg in mixed driving. A soothing ride, an interior that makes getting into the third row of seats somewhat easier, and user friendly electronics make the Santa Fe attractive to those who like to the idea of a SUV.

Mazda has two 5’s that are remarkably the same in terms of utility, but vastly different in style. Choosing between the two is as difficult as deciding what flavor as the much lamented Baskin-Robbins. The Mazda 5 is a minivan with the emphasis on mini. Yet, it provides all the utility of its larger competition and is much easier to park and maneuver. It is fun to drive, handy, and the EPA-estimated its gas mileage at 22/28. This is an exceptional handling minivan that has a small turning radius and easy to enter side doors. Older people well appreciate the ease of entry as you don’t have to step-up to gain access. The second row of seats are captain’s chairs and there is a small third row of seats as well. Truly a small jewel and fun to drive.

Mazda also offers the CX-5, and as most Mazdas, is pleasurable to drive. This affordable SUV offer Mazdas excellent Skyactive Technology that yields class leading fuel mileage and enough power rank it at the top of the small SUV category. The CX-5 offers standard keyless entry, steering ancillary controls and available with the Smart City Brake Support feature that can automatically brake the CX-5 in emergency cases at up to 19 mph.

Nissan Pathfinder: Affable and Affordable
The Car Family
for more reviews go to

Sometimes a car simply amazes you and that is the way it was with the new Pathfinder. Nissan has made this seven passenger SUV into a well mannered, fun, and versatile vehicle capable of handling most any terrain and with enough options to satisfy any taste. Perhaps, best of all, the Pathfinder starts around $30,000 (US). In other words Nissan has priced the this gentle giant under the cost of many mid-sized sedans.

The Pathfinder is a radical departure from older generations and provides ample evidence that Nissan knows how to produce a seven passenger SUV that can match luxury brands in quality and performance. The unibody constructed Pathfinder offers ample cargo space, an upscale interior, and spry performance. Indeed, this Nissan is a joy to drive. It has excellent acceleration, good braking, is easy to park and offers superior value. The Pathfinder is very nimble.

Visibility in all directions is among the best ever in a large SUV and the 260-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 gave us over 23 mpg in mixed driving and 25 on the highway. That is impressive considering its towing capacity is 5000 pounds. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) in our test vehicle was unobtrusive, quick to react and kept the engine on task. A hybrid Pathfinder is also available.
2015 Nissan Pathfinder

Mom’s view: What a surprise. This is a big SUV that drivers like a small one. It has a turning radius that enables you to quickly maneuver into tight mall parking spaces. Safetywise, Pathfinder models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags, traction and stability control systems and a tire pressure monitoring system. Options include a voice-activated navigation system, a 13-speaker Bose stereo and the best Around View system in the business providing a clear, 360-degree overhead view of nearby obstacles. A blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert are available on SL and up models. You can also order all wheel drive, but we found the front wheel drive enough to power through the recent snowfall without slippage.

The interior has plenty of storage spaces, but the real plus was the usefulness of the second row seats that have over five inches of travel and help make access to the third row of seats easier. I was impressed on how easy the seats folded flat enabling us to haul a six foot table with room to spare. A great place to put those bargains. The Pathfinder is available in S, SV, SL and Limited trim levels. Even the base model is well equipped with tri-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo system, and 18-inch alloy wheels and more. Nissan has created a value oriented SUV for families that has a 19.5 fuel tank making 500 miles trips possible without refueling.

Working woman’s view: I reommend the SL version with its leather interior, power liftgate, remote start, heated front and rear seats, an electric-adjustable front passenger seat, and a digital compass as well as a 120V outlet. The center armrest is equipped with jacks for just about any devise. I would also add the Tech Package with its 13-speaker Bose stereo and a navigation system, eight-inch touchscreen, NavTraffic and NavWeather, and an around-view monitor that provides a 360-degree birds-eye view of the surrounding area. The interior is understated and quite funcitonal. I believe the information center was the easiest to use of any I have tested and the large touch screen was quick to accept inputs. There is also a DVD Family Entertainment Package that shows images on 7.0-inch screens located in the back of the front seat headrests.

Dad’s view: This is not a performance vehicle and is tuned more for economy. The results are very good, but its real pride is in its handling and ride. If you haven’t driven a vehicle with a continuously variable transmission it might take you a short time to adjust. The braking is good for its class and the government crash test scores were all above average. The seats are very comfortable and the optional heating element works quickly. I highly recommend you look into the Pathfinder hybrid which, unlike the Toyota Highlander hybrid, can be purchased in models with a minimum of extras and thus starts around $35,000. Since Nissan also produces the best selling all-electric car, the Leaf, that technology certainly helps when they created the Pathfinder hybrid and were able to package the batteries with a minimum loss of cargo space. Essentially, the Pathfinder is a family vehicle for drivers who don’t like minivans. I found this Nissan refreshing and it showed quality throughout. I kept it in front wheel drive for better fuel mileage, but the recent bad weather gave me the opportunity to try it on slick roads and it never faltered. This is the type of one-size fits all households. It is easy enough to go grocery shopping, take a weekend trip, or commute with equal aplomb.

Family conference: This is an excellent choice for 909 readers looking for a large, family oriented SUV that is enjoyable to drive, has great visibility, and an abundance of features. Clearly, Nissan has done its homework and the Pathfinder gets our most improved SUV award. It certainly deserves a test drive. As always, we highly recommend you buy from a reliable dealer.


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