Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/446

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430

POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

problems found later is undoubtedly due to this disheartening primary work. Here again the child who begins arithmetic at eight or ten years of age finds himself able to take it up quickly and has the liking for it that easy mastery always gives." Nature work, on the other hand, "offers wonderfully interesting and valuable material for awakening the intellectual activities of childhood, and while its material for study and description is unlimited, its demand upon the child may be perfectly adapted to his power of observation. We must remember that physical activity is the supreme factor in the development of the child." This means spontaneous play under favorable conditions, not "that nervously exhausting and deadening drill known as the Swedish gymnastics, which … adds fatigue to fatigue, by taking the initiative away from the child and forcing him to pay constant attention to the orders of the teacher." As to discipline, "the child is self-disciplined when he is held to his work by the reflex attention of interest. This can always be secured when the work is adapted to his grasp, when he has the sense of power which comes with easy conquest, when he is not exhausted by the imposition of a sequence logical to the adult mind but meaningless to him, when his attention is not dulled by a demand for attention continued beyond a physiological limit."

Beautifying' the Home Grounds.—The Horticultural Division of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station has been making efforts during the past few years, under the auspices of the agricultural extension work, to improve the surroundings of rural houses, a part of which consists in the publication of bulletins giving hints as to how improved conditions and simple adornments may be obtained without great expense. One of these indicates as one of the means of making the home attractive and "keeping the boy on the farm" the brightening of the place with flowers. Assuming that the main planting of any place should be of trees and shrubs, the flowers are then used as decorations. They may be thrown in freely about the borders of the place, but not in beds in the center of the lawn. They show off better when seen against a background, which may be foliage, a building, a rock, or a fence. "Where to plant flowers is really more important than what to plant. In front of bushes, in the corner by the steps, against the foundation of the residence or outhouse, along a fence or walk—these are places for flowers. A single petunia plant against a background of foliage is worth a dozen similar plants in the center of the lawn.… The open-centered yard may be a picture; the promiscuously planted yard may be a nursery or a forest. A little color scattered in here and there puts a finish to the picture. A dash of color gives spirit and character to the brook or pond, to the ledge of rocks, to the old stump, or to the pile of rubbish." The flower garden, if there is one, should be at one side of the residence or at the rear, "for it is not allowable to spoil a good lawn even with flowers."


MINOR PARAGRAPHS.

Of the twelve genera and fifty species of known North American frogs and toads, Mr. William L. Sherwood says, in his paper in the Proceedings of the Linnæan Society, New York, that five genera and fifty species are found in the vicinity of New York city. Some of these are less secretive in habit than salamanders, and therefore much better known. As ponds and ditches have been drained, the aquatic forms have removed to greater distances from human dwellings, and only the more terrestrial toad and arboreal tree frogs have remained. All of our species have been described, but the author believes that the first mention of the cricket frog being found in this region is in a paper on salamanders, read by him in 1895. The breeding habits of these animals vary, but all lay their eggs in water or moist places. The purely amphibious and really aquatic species are three. Of the other eight species, one is burrowing, five tend to be terrestrial, inhabiting the woods and fields, and two are arboreal. The eggs are laid in gelatinous envelopes, which swell after leaving the adult. At the time of hatching the young tadpole has three pairs