Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 67.djvu/734

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A SIMPLE statement of what can be done and has been done with children is attempted in this article by one who for five years maintained a school in Ottawa for boys, limited in number to twenty and ranging in age from eight to fourteen years.

The afternoon work of this school was conditioned by the season. In the fall, the topography and physiography and the geological history of the city and surrounding country were studied The crust of the earth was examined in outcrops, mines, quarries and excavations, and collections made of soils, shells, fossils and animals for museum, vivarium and aquarium.[1]

In the winter when animate nature is in a state of torpidity and the earth covered with a mantle of snow, the conditions are less favorable for outdoor study of nature. As nature is asleep, we study her asleep. The forest in particular is a convenient and interesting object of winter study. We observed the general appearance of the tree-skeletons, striving to fix in our minds by memory-drawing the characteristic shapes of the various deciduous trees. We examined the bark of the trunk, the character of the wood (making collections of various woods), the size, form, color, texture, taste and smell of the twigs and buds, and the number and arrangement of the buds. The character of the terminal twigs is an excellent means of distinguishing our trees and shrubs. The various contrivances by which the buds protect themselves are of great interest. The buds, being kept in water, open out, showing how ready they are to cast off their winter clothes when the moisture and warmth of spring shall come.

Approaching Christmas reminded us of the evergreens, which we learned to distinguish, the boys decorating their desks with them. In this connection, I shall describe a typical winter outing. A few days before school closed for the winter holidays, we went to a rugged, swampy brush in search of evergreens, each boy being assigned a particular kind to be responsible for, while all were on the lookout for the rarest in the neighborhood, namely, ground hemlock or American yew. Joyously shouting defiance to the frost king, they trudged over the ridges, plunged down into the gullies, and ran across the tiny ponds. Skirting one of these, they at last found the ground hemlock nestling

  1. For a full account of the fall work in nature study, see 'A Glimpse at a Nature School,' in The Pedagogical Seminary for March, 1904.