Horace Hall Cummings.

Nature study by grades; teachers' book for primary grades online

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Sending the sunlight and rain.



What article of food is most common? Mention the dif-
ferent forms in which bread is made. Discuss loaves, rolls,
biscuits, etc. From what is bread made ? Discuss bread made
from other than wheat flour, e.g. graham, corn, rye, etc.

Where is each kind used most commonly ? Why do they
eat so much corn bread in the Southern states? Where is
a great wheat region? In some countries of Europe they
raise much rye, and that kind of bread is eaten there.

Discuss bread making as done at home, describing each
step, and as far as possible giving reasons for it. Bring to
school a small glass of yeast, and show how the bubbles of
gas are formed and how they make the bread light.

Experiment. Drop a small portion of baking powder
into a glass of clear cold water. Watch the bubbles form
and rise until the powder all disappears. How does
water affect baking powder?

How do you think the moisture in the dough will affect
the powder in it ? Will the bubbles rise through the dough
as they do through the water ? What effect will they have
upon the dough ? Why should the baking powder be mixed
thoroughly with the flour ? What makes' the bread light ?

If convenient, make some small baking powder biscuits and
bake them on the stove in school. Note change in size while
baking. Why should baking powder be kept cool and dry?
Lead pupils to make a recipe for bread making, or write a
description of how it is done.

Visit a bakery, and note how uniform are all the propor-
tions of the ingredients used, the temperature of the oven,
the time required to bake the bread, the cleanliness of the
workmen and utensils used, the uniform weight and shape
of the loaves, etc., and how the public is served with



Experiment i. Add a few drops of tincture of iodine to
some starch stirred in water. Note the purple color. This
is a test for starch. Pulverize wheat and other seeds, scrape
a potato or turnip, etc., mix with water, and test these sub-
stances for starch.

Test a small piece of bread in the same way.

Explain that starch forms a large and necessary part of
our foods, and is very abundant in wheat and flour and bread,
as well as in many of our vegetables and in some of our

Experiment 2. Wash in water for a long time a piece of
dough made from wheat flour. Chewing for a long time
a mouthful of wheat will produce the same result. When
all the starch is washed out, a gummy substance is left. This
is mostly gluten, and is useful food. This is also what makes
the dough tough or tenacious and holds the gas made by the
yeast, making the bread light.

Experiment j. Explain how the gas bubbles in the yeast
are caught and retained throughout the loaf by the gluten in
the dough. Make some soap bubbles. Compare the action
of the gluten with the office of soap in making soap

Baking powder acts in a similar way. Bicarbonate of
soda mixed with an acid like cream of tartar, when moistened,
will emit the same gas.

' This gas, however, is mostly driven off in baking, but not
until it has made the dough light, and the heat has made the
loaf rigid.



From what is most of our flour made? Show samples of
flour, corn meal, etc., and discuss them. What part of the
kernel furnishes the white flour? the bran? the middlings,
or shorts ?

Explain what ''self-raising" flour is, and how this may
be prepared at home.

Experiment. Grind some wheat in a mortar or coffee
mill. Get the children to suggest how the resulting ingredi-
ents bran, shorts, and flour may be separated. Sift
through sieves of different degrees of fineness, or through
cloths, and show how the flour and other products may be sep-
arated from each other.

Visit a flour mill, and
show how the grists are
received and weighed,
passed through a smut
machine, and the grain
cleaned from other sub-


stances, and how it is

then passed into the grinding machine, the mill stones or
rollers, and crushed. The means of separating the different
ingredients, and of making the different grades of flour, may
be seen and explained to the children. Show them how the
flour is finally put into sacks and properly branded and
shipped to reach the consumer.

NOTE. For a few cents, small pieces of wire cloth having meshes of
different sizes may be purchased. ome of the older pupils can make
of them very useful sieves as shown in the illustration.





Mention all the useful animals seen on the farm. Make a
list of them. Which is the most useful ? Discuss the horse;

the many kinds of
work he does; the
food he eats; the
care he should re-
ceive ; his disposition
and intelligence.
Many stories and
anecdotes are told to
illustrate these
topics. Several
lessons may be given
on this subject.
Horses may be divided into four classes, according to the
work they do: (i) those valuable for speed; (2) draught

horses; (3) coach
horses; (4) ponies.
Notice 'how each
is built and adapted
for the uses made
of him. How fast
can a horse run?
Describe his walk;
trot ; pace ; gallop.
Is the horse useful
for other things than

DRAUGHT HORSE the work he does?



What use is made of horsehair ? Is his flesh ever eaten ?
The skin of the horse is often tanned into leather.

NOTE. A few suggestions concerning the care and treatment of
the horse should be given to pupils. Do not whip a frightened or balky
horse : kindness is generally more effectual than cruelty. Keep his feet
well shod. A good currying equals a feed of oats. In cold weather
blanket a horse when you tie him up; and never let him drink cold
water when he is very warm.


The cow is useful to man in so many ways that it will
require several lessons to teach this subject and to attend
to the appropriate activities connected with it.

If possible, visit the barns of a dairy and see how the cows
are sheltered, fed, and milked. Note the order and cleanli-
ness observed, and the care given to the milk.

It may even be possible to get the consent of the owner of
a cow to bring her to school, where she may be milked by one
of the pupils in the presence of the others. The milk may
then be taken into the school and allowed to stand in a cool
place until a thick cream is raised. Remove this and make
into butter by stirring it in a bowl. If some of the milk
"sours," make it into cottage cheese, by heating and drain-
ing. In connection with these activities the processes of
making butter and cheese may be explained, and to illus-
trate the work some small bottles of uniform size and shape
may be filled with the products as they are studied. Attach
these to a heavy cardboard, and they will make a most useful
chart. Thus a bottle of milk, one of butter, and a third con-




taining cheese may be attached to the card by the time the
work reaches this point. A drawing of a cow by one of the
pupils may head the chart.

The above-mentioned products are the chief products of
the living animal, but the cow furnishes us also with meat

and tallow. Visit
a meat market,
and note how a
beef is dressed and
cut up for sale.
Note the various
cuts and their rela-
tive prices. Men-
tion some of the
forms in which
meat is sold, e.g.
fresh, corned, dried, sausage, bologna, etc. Add to the chart
a small bottle of chipped beef. In like manner, study suet
and tallow and their uses. Tell about the old-fashioned
tallow candle, and how it was made. Make some by " dip-
ping," if there are no candle molds to be had. Attach in a
suitable place a candle to the chart.

Discuss the uses to the cow of her horns; also the uses to
which man has put them. Combs, buttons, handles of vari-
ous kinds, and other things are made of horn. Place one of
these articles, or a horn, upon the chart.

In like manner explain the many uses of the bones and
the things made from them, adding a bone button or similar
object to the chart. Neat's-foot oil, glue, rennet-tablets, and
gelatine may each in turn be discussed, and a sample in bottles
added to the many other useful things obtained from the
cow. If the teacher cannot obtain all the things mentioned,


surely a sufficient number of them can be had in almost any
school to make a series of very interesting lessons.

Which breed of cow is, perhaps, the best for milk ? Men-
tion some breeds valuable chiefly for beef.



In a similar manner lessons may be given on the sheep,
the pig, the chickens, the ducks, the turkeys, illustrating them
with suitable pictures or specimens, and developing the de-
sirable qualities of the different animals for the various pur-
poses that they serve, their care and the uses of each.

If a farm has been visited by a class, it will be an easy mat-
ter to make an interesting lesson on each of the useful ani-
mals seen there. With the use of good pictures and stories,
much valuable information may be given and a correct atti-
tude toward the animals be established in the minds of the



What animals does man use on the farm in other countries ?
Show pictures of the elephant, reindeer, llama, camel, etc.
Discuss their structure, size, food, movements, intelligence,
and usefulness, and bring out how each is adapted to the
climate and conditions in which it lives.

With the aid of pictures and stories, show the care given
them and their great usefulness. Compare them with our
own domestic animals in various particulars. .

This work will correlate with geography; the number of
lessons to be given to it must be determined by the teacher.




To teach some of the wonderful ways in which animals are
adapted to subsist under all kinds of conditions, a study of
our native birds in respect to their various food areas will
prove very interesting. For this purpose it will be conven-
ient to group the birds according to the geographical areas
that they occupy, since surface conditions influence so greatly
their food supply and methods of obtaining it.

These food zones, extending from the shores of the ocean
or of the Lakes to the crest of the Rocky Mountains, may
afford us the basis for making the following groupings of
birds, which should be worked out by the class :

1. Water Birds , as the seagull, pelican, duck, goose, etc.

2. Marsh Birds, as the heron, crane, snipe, killdeer, wood-
cock, etc.

3. Lowland Birds, as the meadow lark, blackbird, robin,
woodpecker, kingfisher, etc.

4. Highland Birds, as the sage hen, quail, bluebird,
grouse, owl, etc.

5. Mountain Birds, as the eagle, hawk, pine hen, magpie,
crossbill, etc.

While few, if any, of these birds are strictly confined to the
areas which may be assigned them, this method of grouping
them will prove convenient and instructive.

To illustrate the work, induce the pupils to bring from
their homes, or from the game market, samples of feathers,
eggs, nests, heads, and feet of birds studied. Both teachers


and pupils will be somewhat acquainted with birds of each of
these groups, and a further study of them in this light will add
much to their interest in them as well as to their fund of
information. The teacher will add such other birds mentioned
as are seen by her pupils, placing them in their proper groups.


Mention the birds which frequent the waters of the lake
region. Make a list of such as the pupils furnish. Let
them describe peculiar features of each bird mentioned.
Have pictures of as many of them as possible for use in the
class. Study in detail one or two species as types, selecting
the ones most familiar to the pupils, or such as can be studied
best by means of specimens or pictures at hand.

What is the general shape of all these birds? Why are
their bodies boat-shaped? What other provisions for swim-
ming are found in their structure? Discuss their webbed
feet and short legs, and their position near the rear of their
bodies; their waterproof feathers, and how they are kept
impervious to water, etc.

Do they need to fly far? Why? Discuss their powers
of flight ; the length of their wings ; the weight of their bodies ;
size and strength of the muscles which move the wings, etc.

Are they adapted to walk on land? Consider their short
legs, clumsy feet, unsteady gait, slow progress, etc., when
on land. What is their chief food? Do they find any con-
siderable amount of food when on land? Compare the
swiftness of flight to their slowness in walking, and discuss
the greater need of the former.

Study in detail the duck. What is the color of the duck?


Is its color any protection? Describe its beak and the uses
made of it. Show how it strains its food from the mud in
which it is obtained. Consider the feathers and how they
are kept oiled; the strength of the wings and the rapid
flight; the food-getting habit; the nesting and rearing of
the young; its noisy flight and annual migrations; its dis-
position and gregarious habits, and the ease with which it
may be domesticated.

Consider also the game law as related to the duck, and
account for the provisions it contains. Tell about hunting
ducks. How may they be reared in a profitable way?
Relate anecdotes about ducks.


What is a characteristic of most birds that get a living
in shallow waters? Why are they often called waders?
Make a list of all the waders that the pupils have seen or
can mention. Describe their feet. Their long and wide-
spread toes are adapted to what purpose? Compare the
length of their necks to those of water birds, or swimmers,
and harmonize each with the needs of their respective owners.
What do the long, sharp bills of most of them tell us about
the food that they subsist upon?

The blue heron is found in our marshes and river bottoms,
and is a typical " wader," as is also the crane. Most of
the pupils will have seen these birds either on wing or in
water. They migrate and travel in large numbers, especially
the cranes, which are remarkable for the precision of their
lines of flight and peculiar cry. Herons are found in all
parts of the world, and are usually of large size.


Among the smaller waders may be mentioned our com-
mon snipe and killdeer. Why is the latter so called ? Why
do we often hear its shrill cry several times before we are
able to locate it on the naked shores of a lake or marsh?
Describe the nest and eggs of the killdeer. Discuss its food
area. Some snipes have nerves in their long, slender beaks,
that they may feel the larvae, etc., buried in the soft mud
into which they thrust their bills in search of food.

Of what use are the wading birds to man? What insects
and other animals do they eat? If not destroyed, what
would be the increase of these animals ? A single toad will
often lay more than 10,000 eggs in a season. Many other
animals, also, are very prolific. A perpetual plague of frogs
would prevail in marshy lands were it not for the appetites
and ability of these wading birds.

Many stories are told of these wading birds, especially
of the stork, which belongs to this class. It has, however,
become almost thoroughly domesticated in some countries
of Europe.


Make a list of the birds found in our farming lands. They
will include many of the perchers and some of the climbers.
These birds live mostly in trees, and show considerable
skill in making their nests.

The robin is a very common example of these, and may
be studied in detail. Have the children describe him and
discuss the following points: the size, shape, and evident
use of the bill; his food supply; his feet and their adapta-
tion to arboreal life. Describe his flight. Does he walk


or hop when on the ground? Does he do man more good
than harm?

It is supposed that birds can both see and hear far better
than man, and are thus better able to get their food. The
small seeds and insect eggs appear much larger to them
than to us, or they would not be so clever in finding them.
A pair of robins may raise a dozen young ones in one season,
and, when young, they are so ravenous as to eat nearly their
own weight in food in a day. The immense number of
harmful insects thus destroyed can scarcely be calculated,
but surely the robins pay us well in this way for the few
cherries that they may eat later.

The woodpecker is almost as common as the robin, and
his peculiar food area demands a far more unique structure.
Describe and note the adaptation of his feet and tail feathers
for climbing and resting against the trunk of a tree; his
sharp, pick-like beak to penetrate the bark ; his . barbed
tongue to pierce and withdraw the larvae he loves so well;
his acute sense of hearing as he taps on the bark to frighten
his prey, and then listens to hear it move within so that he
can locate it exactly.


Upon bench lands, or uplands, are often seen the quail,
mourning dove, sage hen, grouse, bluebird, and one or two
species of the sparrow family. What do most of these birds
eat? How do they get their food? Why are some of them
called scratchers ? Many of them are related to our domestic
fowl, with whose habits of scratching all are familiar. Study
in detail the quail, or partridge.


Do all these birds migrate? Why not? Consider their
powers of long flight; their ability to endure cold; their
food supply, etc. Discuss their enemies and means of
protection. Their beaks indicate what as to their natural
food? How are their feet and toes adapted for the work of
uncovering their food? How do they build their nests?
What number of young may a pair rear in a single season?
Which birds are considered game birds ? Are they protected
by the game law? Can they be tamed easily? Discuss
their habits and disposition.


What birds are found in our mountains? Make a list
of them upon the blackboard. Procure pictures of as many
of them as possible. Stories, also, may be used in illustrat-
ing the habits and peculiarities of these birds. They include
eagles, hawks, owls, magpies, pine hens, crossbills, and many

Which of these are birds of prey? On what do they
prey ? Tell what you can of their food habits, and how their
bodies are adapted for their mode of life.

Which eat seeds or fruit ? Which go in flocks ? Are any
mountain birds songsters? Have any of them brilliant
plumage? Which are useful to man? Are any of them
injurious to man?

Discuss in detail one or more of these birds.

What forms the food of most of these birds, especially
of the larger ones ? Do they migrate ? To what extent does
the cold weather affect their food supply? How are they
adapted to endure the winter?


Discuss the carnivorous birds in relation to their pre-
hension of food. The long and lofty flights of eagles and
hawks; their wonderful powers of sight in searching for
prey; their methods of dropping on to it when found; the
shape and use of the bill and strong talons ; the good and
the harm done by these birds to man, are all interesting
points to bring out by description or story, and by proper

The structure and habits of the owl are of peculiar in-
terest, and the following facts may be brought out concern-
ing him: his feathers are soft, and his flight is silent, for
he is nocturnal in his habits ; his eyes are constructed to
see at night, and he feeds upon such animals as he can find
by swooping along the ground; his prey is swallowed
entire, the indigestible parts being thrown up later. Owls
mate for only a short period, and are essentially solitary in
their habits. Some burrow in the ground to make their


What plants live but one year? Make a list of some of
them. How do they manage to perpetuate themselves?
Discuss the dangers to their seeds and how they are pro-
tected. Get samples of both wild and cultivated seeds.
Why do plants produce so many more seeds than can pos-
sibly grow? Consider how man takes advantage of this
habit in plants to provide for himself food, etc.

Discuss the seed coverings used for protection, e.g. stone
fruits, the impervious varnish on some seeds, the pod, bur,
etc., on others.


What plants live two years and then die? Make a list
and collect samples of such. How large do they grow the
first year ? When do they bear their seeds ? What prepara-
tion do they make for bearing seed? How does man make
use of this habit? What change usually takes place in the
plant while the seeds are developing ? Account for it. Study
some common root crops of biennials, as the carrot, beet,
turnip, etc.

What plants live many years? Make a list. Describe the
elaborate preparations they make to withstand the winter.
Most of them do not bear seeds for several years while they
are developing large and strong woody roots and trunks and
branches, and protecting them by a thick bark coat. Con-
sider also thq preparations they make for each succeeding
winter, developing anew buds and leaves and blossoms each

How does man take advantage of the habits of perennials
to provide for his welfare ?



If the school is near a sugar-beet farm or a sugar factory,
a special study should be made of this industry. A visit to the
farm or factory, or both, would form the best foundation for
the work. Let the children describe the planting of the
seeds and the machines used in doing it. Call attention to
the care taken to secure good seed and to avoid wasting any
in planting.

The seeder places the seeds in the best position to grow, so
that as many as possible of those planted will develop. Con-
sider the slope and direction of the rows and how they may


be irrigated. When and why do they need thinning? Why
not plant fewer seeds and avoid the work of thinning? De-
scribe the care and harvesting of the crop; the care given to
those beets which are left to produce the seeds. How is the
best seed procured ?

An explanation of the different processes of making sugar
should follow, providing the children can visit a sugar fac-
tory, but a verbal description alone will do little good, and
if given at all, should be brief and general.


Dig a hole in the ground and collect from various depths
samples of soils, and place them in proper order in a glass
bottle. Why is the top soil of darker color than the sub-
soil? What influence does decaying vegetable matter usu-
ally have upon soil? The mass of roots of grass and other
plants usually penetrate only twelve or eighteen inches, and
in many places this determines the thickness of the loam.

Which absorbs more heat, a light or a dark color? Illus-
trate with many samples, and if possible with an experiment.

A piece of white and a piece of similar black cloth laid on
top of the snow will show this in the winter time. The snow
will melt much more rapidly under the black cloth.

Why are white hats and clothes worn in summer and dark
ones in winter? What influence, then, does dark soil have
upon the crops planted in it?

Discuss conditions of soil as to fineness, looseness, soft-
ness, etc., and the influence of each upon germination and
plant growth. How do we make ground loose and fine?


Discuss plowing and harrowing methods and the object of
the work.


Each year the pupils should plant and care for a school
garden. In beginning this work, use the suggestions in

This onion patch is a part of the Utah Normal Training School garden.

Lesson XLV, First Grade, as far as practicable. From year
to year the seeds may differ, and the purpose of keeping the
garden be changed somewhat.

Discuss with the pupils each spring the work to be under-
taken, the seeds to be planted and the problems to be studied.

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Online LibraryHorace Hall CummingsNature study by grades; teachers' book for primary grades → online text (page 10 of 12)