Emilie Poulsson.

In the child's world; morning talks and stories for kindergartens, primary schools and homes online

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Froebel's Explanation of " The Fish in the Brook."

Winners in Life's Race (Chaps. I, II, III), - Arabella Buckley

The Origin of Species, . - -.. Darwin

The Song of Life, - - - . . Manjaret Morley

The Conipleat Angler, - - . . . Izaak Walton

Speckled Trout, } t 7 n ,

Locusts and Wild Honey,; - ' " " - John Burroughs

Paradise Lost (Book VII, Line 387), .... Milton

The Fish, the Man, and the Spirit, ... Leigh Hunt

Hiawatha's Fishing, - - - Longfellow


Birds and Fishes ("Kindergarten Stories and Morning

Talks"), - - - - - - - s. E. Wiltse

Water Babies (The Salmon), - - . . Charles Kingsley



Oh! such a beautiful lake! The water was so clear and pure
that it had not only its own beauty, but could take the beauty
of whatever was near it. Pictured by the lake, the slender,
white-robed birches and the graceful willows that grew on the
bank were ^s beautiful as in their reality; and so were the blue
of the sky, the gold of the sunshine and the silvery light of the

The lake was very, very deep. In some places near the shore,
however, it was shallow, and rippled over the sand with only
depth enough to float a leaf.

Out in the deep parts of the lake lived the black bass and the
pickerel and other large fishes; but the tiny minnow and their
friends liked better the shallows, where the water was gilded and
warmed by the sunshine. The fishes knew that there was an
upper world, for many of them used to jump up a little way out
of the water in their play, but they never stayed long, and did

IN THE child's WORLD. 243

not like what little they knew of this upper world. To them it
seemed too bright and hot and dry.

The older and more experienced fishes told strange tales to
each other of wonderful creatures which, from time to time, had
been known to come into the water. After swimming about in
a more or less clumsy manner, these creatures always disappeared
entirely; but back they would come, again and again, yes — the
very same beings! The splashing and shaking of the water
which most of them made was something astonishing, and the
fishes were usually too much frightened by it to get more than
hasty glimpses; but as each fish told the others whatever it had
seen, they knew that there were many difEerent kinds of crea-
tures among these visitors, and that it must be that they came
from the dry iipper world. I cannot tell you what the fishes
called them, but I know that wild ducks and frogs and dogs and
boys loved to plunge into the clear, cool water of the lake, and
dive and swim and float and be as much like fishes as they could.
" Poor things! " said the fishes. " What a pity that they cannot
stay always in the beautiful water world! Then they might
learn to swim properly."

The minnows knew very little of all these things, however,
thougli they, too, sometimes jumped out above the water; but
one of their number had a strange adventure not long ago, dur-
ing which he learned a great deal.

He was darting about in the sparkling water, chasing his play-
mutes and having a merry frolic with them, when he suddenly
found himself swimming round and round alone, and in a very
small place. It surely was not the lake, nor yet the little river
down which he had come some time ago. The minnow knew
only these two places — the river and the lake. He had never
been anywhere else, and had never heard of any world beside
the water world, or of any living creatures larger than the black
bass. You see he was very little and very young, scarcely
more than a baby fish.

As he swam round and round in the tin dipper — for it was a
tin dipper in which he had been caught — he wondered what part
of the lake this was, and why he could not swim farther, and
where his friends were.


While he was wondering, a black shadow covered the water
and the minnow thought that night was coming on; but it was
only the shadow of a little boy^'s head, as Philip, the owner of
the tin dipper, looked in to see what he had caught.

"Oh! it's a shiner!" said he. "I never thought I could
catch a shiner, they are so lively. I 've often tried before, but
they always got away. Is n't he pretty?"

"Oh! let me see, do, Philip!" said another eager voice, and
another little head bent over the dipper.

"Oh! oh! oh! What a darling little fish! And how fast he
goes! Wliat round eyes he has and what a big mouth!
Philip, let's take him home and have him for a pet!"

"All right," said Philip; "we can put him in the goldfish

The two children scrambled up the bank and ran into the
house. They carried the dipper to their mamma and showed
her the treasure they had in it.

"Where is the goldfish globe, mamma? May we have it?
Is n't he a dear little thing? See how he shines! "

Mamma was almost as much interested as the children. She
lifted the glass globe down from the high shelf where it stood,
and helped to fill it with fresh, cold water.

" Now, dearies," she said, " I think we can probably keep this
little fellow happy and well for a little while, and you can take
care of him and watch him. But we must soon let him go back
to his friends in the lake, for I am sure he will like that better
than to stay here, no matter what we may do for him."

Philip and his sister were less disappointed at this than you
might think; for they had often had j^ets in this way before, and
had learned to enjoy it.

" Let's make it as much like the lake as we can," said Philip.
"Don't you know it was all sandy there where I caught him?
We can put some sand in the bottom of the globe."

"There were stones there, too," said Nannie, eagerly. "I
will bring those two pretty stones I found yesterday."

In a little while the globe Avas ready and the water in the dip-
per was poured gently into it, the minnow scarcely knowing
when the change was made.

IN THE child's WORLD, 245

When ho first noticed the white sand at the bottom of the
water, he darted down and nestled in it, thinking for a moment
that he was back in the lake; but he soon found that he was still
in a small place and alone. When he tried to swim straight
ahead, he always came against the glass side of the globe; and
this puzzled him very much, for it was as clear as water and yet
so hard. He knew he had never seen anything like that in the
lake. I suppose an older fish would have thought it was ice.
When the minnow found that he could not swim a long way in
this place, and that it certainly was not the lake, he began to
explore very carefully, and soon decided that it was, at any rate,
a very pleasant place.

The sand and the pretty stones at the bottom seemed very
homelike, and the minnow soon found that he could play very
much as he used to in the lake, although, of course, he missed
his companions.

The stones had been placed a little way apart, and it was
great fun to swim between them and around them part of the
time. He could play "sink and rise,"' too, and that is one of
the favorite plays among fishes. He was so glad that the water
in the globe was deep enough for that game. Altogether the
minnow decided that he could be very comfortable in this new
home, although it was not to be compared with the lake, and
although he could never be quite happy without any companions.

While he was swimming about and his little fish brain (for fishes
have brains) was full of these thoughts, Philip and Nannie were
watching him with great delight. They enjoyed seeing his grace-
ful motions as he darted back and forth between the stones or
swam around near the side of the globe, sometimes stretching and
straightening himself out, but usually curving his wavy little
body one way and another.

The children wondered whether he was ever perfectly still; for
they saw that even when he floated, as he did occasionally near
the top of the water, he moved either his tail or his fins slightly
and lazily.

Mamma was kept busy answering their questions and they were
very much interested in all she told them. They could see the
minnow gulp in water with his big mouth, and open and shut his

246 IN THE child's WORLD.

gill covers as he seut the water out again, and their mamma
explained that he did not send the water out through his gills
until after he had used the air from it, and that this was the fish's
way of breathing.

"I think 'shiners^ is a good name for these minnows/' said

'' Yes/' said Nannie, ''but this one ought to have a special
name. What shall we call him. Mamma?"

Mamma suggested several names: Silversides, Flash, Speckle,
Twist-abont, Ripple and Dart; — and the children finally decided
on '* Ripple Silversides." " He ought to have two," said Nannie,
"just as we have."

All that day the children hovered about the globe, finding more
and more to admire in their active little pet, and wondering more
and more at his shining scales, his delicate, gauzy fins, his round,
staring eyes, and funny mouth.

The next morning, the children's first thought was for Ripple
Silversides. They found him as lively as ever, and flashing
brightly in the sunlight which streamed in at the window.

. Philip caught him at last by dipping a little cup into the globe,
but he had to try a great many times. Nannie had the dipper
ready filled with fresh water, and Ripple was soon transferred.

The next thing was to take him to the lake, and Philip and
Nannie ran down the bank with almost as much eagerness as when
they had scrambled up the day beforejforthey had been thinking
what fun Ripple would have in telling his friends where he had
been and what he had seen, so they were in a hurry to put him
back into his old home. They went to the very place where they
had found him, put the dipper down under the water and saw
him an instant as he swam over the dij^per's edge and out into
the lake.

" Now he is gone! " said Philip. " Oh, see! There is a whole
crowd of them! ^Now I cannot tell which one is Ripple! "

Nannie looked rather wistfully at the swift flashes gleaming
farther and farther away in the water. " I suppose Ripple is
delighted to be back there again," she said. "Of course it is
more fun than it would be for him to live alone in a glass globe
in the house."

ijsr THE child's would. 247

111 the meantime, Ivipple ISilversides was eujoyiug to the utmost
the freedom of swimming in a big place, and the fun of being
again one of a throng. The excitement of the other minnows at
his return and at what he told them was very great; and for a
long time Ripple Silverside's adventure was one of the favorite
stories of the water-world!

Emilie Poulsson.


A certain little fish was swimming about in the river one day,
wondering what he should do with himself. He was usually a
happy fellow, quite satisfied to pass his time as the other young
fishes did; but now he was getting older and began to feel as if he
wanted to do more than simply find his own food and amuse

True, there was plenty of fun to be had. Perhaps you think
that children are the only ones who enjoy playing "tag "and
'* hide-and-seek," and running races; but, if so, you must change
your mind about thr^t, for the fishes know all these games and
and many more, and have merry times down in the water.

But " Fun is not fun if you have too much of it," thought this
little fish; (oh, but he was a wise one!) " I wonder what else I
can find to do!" He swam idly toward the bank of the river, and
wandered among the plants that grew therie. Suddenly he caught
sight of something fastened to one of the plants.

" Oh, how beautiful! how convenient! " thought Mr. Stickle-
back as he swam nearer and looked more closely at the newly
discovered object.

"No dinner here for you, sir!" gasped an excited voice; and
our little friend found himself nose to nose with another fish very
much like himself, and who seemed all ready to be angry with

"Dinner! I've just had my dinner, and a good one, too; i
shan't be hungry for some time yet," said Mr. Stickleback. '• I
was merely admiring this pretty nest here. No harm in that, is
there, friend ? " he added peaceably.

The other fish grew quiet as Mr. Stickleback said this, and

248 IN THE child's world.

answered, a little apologetically: " I thought you might be after
eggs; and though I have no eggs as yet, I want to discourage all
prowlers. Of course, while I have a spine in my body I will de-
fend my nest and my eggs."

"Why, that is just the way I should feel, I know it is. 1 do
not blame you one bit," said Mr. Stickleback. " And, speaking
of spines, aren't mine somethinglike yours? and isn't your family
name Cottoida? "

" Yes, indeed," said the other pushing himself a little nearer
with his right fin; "but I am usually called Stickleback, — Purple
Stickleback, on account of my color, you see."

"And I am Stickleback, too, — Scarlet Stickleback, on account
of my color; and we are of the very same family. How delightful!
Let's have a race!" and off they started with one vigorous whisk
of their tails which sent them swiftly down the stream.

They never knew how pretty they looked; but as they flashed
along, one in deep beautiful purple, the other in "glowing scarlet
trimmed with white and green," their colors gleamed out with
wonderful brightness. They soon swam back to the group of
plants, for Purple Stickleback would not go far from his nest;
and Mr. Stickleback said: " JVoiv I know what to do. lam
going to make a nest like yours."

" Very well," said the other. " There's plenty of room here,
and .1 do not think there is a better ])lace along the whole bank."

Mr. Scarlet Stickleback: was already too much interested to care
to talk or play any more. He peered about among the plants
looking for strong stems to which to fasten his nest, and soon

" I can make it firm here," he said to himself, "even if the
river rushes as wildly as it did after the last storm." Then Mr.
Stickleback went to work indeed. He bit off pieces of leaf and
carried them to the plant stems which he had chosen, fastening
each bit with some glue which he found he had with him. Back
and forth he went, patiently biting, carrying, glueing the tiny
bits of leaf, until at last he had pieced together a leafy floor, large
enough for the bottom of his house.

Then he stopped to rejoice over his work and to consider what
to do next. " It seems to be rather thin and light," he saiil, as

IN THE child's WOULD. 24:9

he watched it swaying up and down in the water, although fast-
ened by its edges to the plant stems. " I know how I can make
it steady;" and quick as thought Mr. Stickleback folded his tins
close to his body and darted down through the water to the sandy
bottom of the river. His plan was to take sand up to his nest and
so make the floor of it heavy and steady. Perhaps you are won-
dering how he was going to carry the sand, he, a little fish, with
no hands, nor claws, nor feet; but he wasted no time in wondering.
He would not ask any better way than his way, which was to fill
his mouth with sand. Eising to the clump of plants, he very
carefully emptied the sand from his mouth on the green floor, and
then dived again. This he did several times, until he had sprin-
kled the whole floor with sand and made it so heavy that it no
longer bobbed up and down in the water, but kept its place un-
disturbed, even when he tested it as he did by lashing his tail
about furiously and making a great commotion in the water.

" So far, so good," he said to himself; " and now I must make
the walls. This is goin^ to be a beautiful nest! " Then followed
more biting of leaves, and carrying, and glueing the bits together.
Slow work it was, with no tools, remember! no hands, or feet or
claws. But little by little the green sides were built up higher
around the edge of the platform, and finally a roof was made in
the same way — of leaf bits glued together. As he built he con-
stantly rubbed against the inside walls of the house, and a sort of
sticky stuff which oozed out of his body was rubbed off; and, what
do you think? this hardened into a sort of varnish, so that the
inside of his house was as smooth and nice as could be!

Mr. Stickleback's nest was not like a bird's nest, all open on
the top. It was more in the shape of a barrel, and about as large
as a man's fist; and he made two round doorways in it. When
he had finished these, he swam through and through the nest with
great delight, rejoicing in the smooth walls, the strong floor, and
the doorwiijs just large enough for him to swim through easily.
When he was perfectly satisfied that there was nothing more he
could do to make the nest prettier or better, he swam swiftly

It was some time before he came back; but when he did come,
he was not alone. He brought Mrs. Stickleback with him: and

250 IN THE child's WORLD.

you can imagine how happy he was to show her the nest he had
built, and how pleased she must have been.

By and by when the nest was full of eggs, Mr. Stickleback was
so busy he scarcely knew what to do. He was so anxious about
those eggs! and with good reason, too, for some of the hungry
fishes would have been glad to eat them if they could have found
a chance. But Mr. Stickleback was too watchful for them. The
wiiy he swam about that nest — first to one door and then to the
other, to see that the eggs were safe — was something wonderful
to see.

He was very particular about leaving both doorways open,
although it made more for him to guard, of course; but the wise
little fellow knew that the eggs needed the fresh, cool water of the
river to flow over them in order to hatch them, so he was more
than willing to watch both doors. Besides protecting the eggs,
Mr. Stickleback had to turn them over sometimes, taking those
which were underneath and putting them at the top so that the
water should flow over them all.

This busy time lasted for several weeks* and then — then Mr.
Stickleback became busier than ever; for all the tiny eggs over
which he had been watching hatched into little fishes, hundreds
and hundreds of baby Sticklebacks, his own little ones!

Back door, frontdoor, back door, front door — more like a fierce
little soldier than ever was Mr. Stickleback as he went his rounds
now, defending his babies as he had defended his eggs from the
hungry fishes. And how they grew, those babies! It seemed to
Papa Stickleback as if they were scarcely hatched before they
began to get out of the nest. " In, in! stay in, my dears!" he
would say as he looked at them through tlie frontdoor; but in
the meaniime, one or two would slip out of the back door and
swim away. They were too little to know any better and Papa
Stickleback could only chase after them as fast as his fins could
carry him and take them back to the nest, one at a time. How
did he carry the children? Why, just as he had carried the sand
when building his nest. In his mouth! By the time he had
caught the little runaways, or swimaways, and had poked them
into the nest again, one or two others would have gone out of the
front door; and he would have to swim after them and catch them

* Some authorities say two, or three, some say six weeks.

IN" THE child's WORLD. 251

and carry them back in. his mouth. Yes, indeed, it was a time
of great anxiety.

When the poor father was very much worried, his gay coloi's
would grow dull and pale, hut they would brighten again when
all went well with his family; while if an enemy came near the
nest, the red and green of Mr. Stickleback's uniform became more
brilliant as he bravely fought to protect his little ones. So brave
was this tiny little father, in fact, that he would rush out and
drive away fishes a great deal bigger than himself if he thought
they were coming to trouble his family.

Fish babies grow fast, however, as I said before, and the happy
day soon came when Papa Stickleback had all his children out of
the nest and away from the plants, and was teaching them the
games which he used to play when he was young.

In the midst of tlie fun they were joined by Mr. Purple Stickle-
back and his children. "Hurrah for a race between us, — you
and your children on one side, and I and my children on the
other," said he. So the two companies started off, and it was a
sight to see! — their gauzy fins waving, their bodies shining, and
their colors — the deep, beautiful purple and the " glowing scarlet
trimmed with white and green" — -making the water glow with
splendor as they flashed through it. You would almost have
thought that a rainbow had fallen into the stream!

How the race ended I do not know; but I do know that by this
time some of those Stickleback children must have grown up and
made nests of their own, and they probably were just as busy and
as happy and as faithful in taking care of their children as their
little father liad been; for it is said that all the Stickleback fathers
are of just that kind!

Emilie Poulsson.

Mi;. iSxirM.Ki-.At K and his Njlst.



To THE Teachek: —

(Foi" ourselves, in
our study of trees, we
might take a first
word from Emerson,
who says in his essay
on Nature: "It seems
as if the day was not
wholly profane in
which we have given
heed to some natural

Have ready some
twigs with leaf-buds
on them. By keeping some in the house a few days in water and where
they get the sunshine, and having besides some freshly gathered on the
day of the talk, you can have leaf-buds in different stages of opening.
Have also pieces of wood, some with bark and some without, and a trans-
verse slice which will show the rings of growth.

Maple sugar — enough for each child to have a taste — and pieces of
India rubber should be provided also, but kept in reserve till the subject
of sap is reached.

Begin the talk by letting the children examine twigs, leaf-buds, bark,
etc., and tell that they come from the tree. )


How do trees look in winter? Is it winter now? No, it is
spring — early spring. In early spring how do the trees look?
What have we found on the tree twigs this morning? How will
the trees look in summer? How will they get all the pretty,
green leaves they have in summer? From the leaf-buds, of
course. The leaves — tiny, tiny ones, but a great many — are
packed tightly away in all the buds on all the twigs, and when

254 IN THE child's would.

the spring rains have watered them and the spring sunshine has
warmed them, the leaf-buds will open wider and wider each day,
and finally spread out these little new' leaves to the air and sun
and showers.

The tall, thick part of the tree is called the trunk. (Show
rings of growth and explain them; explain also that by counting
these rings the age of the tree can be approximately determined.)
Do you know any other parts of the tree? (Brandies, boughs,
roots, etc.)

Was the tree from which I broke this twig aliuays a big tree?
No, it has been growing for many years. Long ago it was a tiny
tree, and before that it was only a seed. The seed sent little
roots down into the ground and pushed a little stem up through
the ground, and so it became a tiny tree. It drank the water
which the rain brouglit, and it breathed the fresh air which the
winds brought, and rejoiced and grew green and strong in the
warm sunshine, and grew larger and larger every year; and so it
becaro.e a tall, thick tree, with many branches. (Speak of the
roots, reaching out on all sides in the ground, as the branches
do in the air, and of the firm support this gives the tree.) How
does the tree drink water? Through the little spongy mouths
at the tip ends of the roots. The water soaks through the roots
to the stem or trunk, up through the trunk into the branches,
and from the branches into the twigs and stems, and then into
every leaf. The water which the roots drink is not just the
same as when it fell from the clouds in rain, because it has
soaked through the ground and now has in it just what the trees
need. As it passes up into the tree it is called sap (crude sap).
After it has flowed out to the leaves the (elaborated) sap flows
back all through the tree again, and it helps the tree to grow;
just as what we eat and drink helps our bodies to grow.

A tree or plant cannot live and grow without sap. When vou
break a flower from a plant and find the stem wet and juicy, it
is because sap was flowing through the stem. At the time when
the bluebird and the robin first come back, the sap starts, and
flows up and down in the tree most busily, as if to hurry and

Online LibraryEmilie PoulssonIn the child's world; morning talks and stories for kindergartens, primary schools and homes → online text (page 16 of 29)