Norman Allison Calkins.

Manual of object-teaching : with illustrative lessons in methods and the science of education online

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Online LibraryNorman Allison CalkinsManual of object-teaching : with illustrative lessons in methods and the science of education → online text (page 15 of 35)
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have been given, additional facts may be stated by the teacher,
such as that their food consists of grass, grain, vegetables, fruits,
and the bark of young trees; that they are very timid when
wild; that tame rabbits are white, black, and of other colors,
while wild ones are usually brown in summer, but of a grayish-
white in winter; that they lay back their ears, so as to hear
when an enemy approaches them from behind ; that their eyes
are so placed near the top of the head that they can readily
see anything that comes from either direction ; and that they
must depend upon flight for safety, as they have no means of

The wild rabbits are full of odd tricks which are amusing. They
come from their burrows about sunset, also in the morning just
before sunrise. When a person has once seen the comical move-
ments of these creatures in their native home, he will desire to
see them again and again in their gambols and laughable antics.

When one rabbit wishes to call another from his burrow, he
goes near the mouth of a hole, and with its hind feet gives a
tap-tapping on the ground. If a rabbit does not soon come out,
he goes to another hole, and repeats his tapping on the ground.
Sometimes an old rabbit rushes out, and begins to fight this dis-
turber of his peace. They leap over each other, and kick their
enemy with their hind feet ; each trying to jump the highest and
kick the hardest. They have great strength with their hind feet,
and often knock each other down.

Rabbits give a signal of danger by a sound like tap-pat. When
this sound is made, all the rabbits rush for their burrows. Some-
times rabbits fight by striking their heads together.

The rabbit is a gnawing animal. Its front teeth are like those


of a rat. It often does great injury to trees by gnawing the bark
near the ground. The flesh of the rabbit is used for food, and its
skin for clothing.


Teacher holding a picture of a robin before the class says, How
many of you have seen a bird like the one in this picture ? All of
you ? Then Willie may tell the name of it. Mary, where did you see
a robin ?

Do robins walk or hop when they move on the ground ? Do they
often stop when walking ? Do they walk fast ? Did you ever see
a robin's nest? James may tell us where he saw a nest, and what it
was made of.

James. I saw a robin's nest in an apple-tree. It was built in a fork
of the branches, of sticks and grass.

T. Robins often build nests in trees near a house. They make them
of small sticks, dry grass, and hair. Only two robins attend to one
nest. The female robin gathers the materials and builds the nest,
and the male robin acts as a sentinel to give alarm if any enemy
comes near; and he guards the nest so that other birds may not steal
it while the female is away gathering more materials. It takes three
or four days to finish a nest. The female shapes the inside of it by
turning round and round in it many times, with her tail hugging it
close on the outer rim.

Usually three or four eggs are laid. The robin sits eleven days to
hatch her young. In about eight days the young robins are covered
with pin-feathers, and their eyes are open ; in eleven or twelve days
more they leave their nests, and are taken care of by the male robin.
As soon as the young birds are out of their shells the male robin pro-
vides the food, keeps the nest clean, and sits on it to keep the young
birds warm when the mother-bird is absent in search of food.

In a few days after the first brood leaves the nest, the female gath-
ers new materials and builds another nest, usually not far from the
first, and prepares for a second family. The robin rears but two
broods in one season.

The chief food of the robin is worms and other insects. He is the
former's best friend. A multitude of insects are bred in the earth,
and the robin consumes a large number of them. If all of these
insects were left to feed on vegetables and fruits, the destruction of
them would be so great that both beast and man would suffer for
the want of food.

Robins eat but a few cherries, or other fruits, until after his destruc-


tion of insects has saved the farmer more than the value of his fruit.
During a single year a pair of robins will save ten times more fruit
and grain than all they consume. The robin deserves to be treated
kindly for all the good that he does ; but too often he is abused,
stoned, and shot by those who do not know his real character and
value to the farmer.

The male and female robins do not differ much in size ; but the
female is of a lighter color, and has no rosy color on the neck and
breast. The male bird is often called " robin-red-breast." Both of
these birds have large, bright eyes.

It is the male robin whose song is heard ringing out so clearly
early in the morning and late at night. The notes of the robin may
be heard at the first dawn of light, long before the sun is up, and
when evening twilight has faded almost into the darkness of night.
Do you know what the robin says when he sings ? Somebody told
me that he said,

"Jonathan Gillet scoured the skillet;
Scoured it neat, scoured it clean."

Listen to his song, and see if you think he says this.

I hope you will watch the robin, learn much about its habits, learn
to look at it as a friend, and to treat it with kindness.


I think all of you have seen a long, slender worm of a pinkish
color, without legs, crawl out of a hole in the ground after a shower
of rain. Did you ever watch the movements of this earth-worm, and
learn how it can crawl without legs ?

If you examine it carefully as it moves, you will observe that its
body contains a great many rings, placed at little distances from
each other. If you could count them, you would find more than
one hundred in all. When the worm crawls you can see these rings
separate, or stretch apart, as about half of the body stretches forward :
then these rings come near together again, as the back part of the
body is drawn forward.

This worm has four long muscles which extend the whole length
of its body ; and it can lengthen or shorten these muscles, and thus
separate the rings, or draw them together.

The earth-worm has a pointed head, which can be distinguished
from the tail by being more pointed than the tail. It has a mouth,
but no eyes nor teeth, and does not hear nor smell. It has the sense
of touch and of taste. The sense of touch is keen, as may be seen by
touching it lightly as it peers above its hole. It feeds upon the soil


it lives in, swallowing it and the half-decayed organic substances in
it, and passes them through the body, as may be seen by the casts
around their holes.

It is supposed that these worms breed once a year. Their young
are produced from eggs, which are laid in clusters at considerable
depth in the ground. The eggs are laid in the spring, and hatched
in June and July. The egg is about the size of a pea, with a hole
in one end, through which the young worm escapes.

If the worm be cut in two behind the belt of rings which is about
one-third of its length back of its mouth this part of the worm will
grow out again ; but if the body be cut in two at the belt, or between
the belt and the head, the worm will die.

You have probably seen the earth-worm used for bait when fish-
ing, and many think it good for nothing else. The real uses of this
worm appear to be to furnish food for moles, toads, frogs, snakes, the
robin and other birds, and also for fishes and some kinds of insects.
They do more harm than good to vegetation. They eat into roots
of plants. The earth-worm is found where man dwells, but not in
the forests until carried there by man.

Earth-worms can be destroyed when they become so numerous as
to injure plants. They are very thin-skinned, and any hot or caustic
liquid like lime-water or weak lye will kill them. If the earth be
shaken where these worms are abundant, they crawl out of their
holes, as if afraid. Some birds know this habit of these worms,
and they stamp with their feet on the ground about these holes;
and as the worm comes out the bird catches it with its long bill.


Before giving this lesson, several snail-shells should be procured ;
also two or three live snails.

Let pupils examine the shells and notice the spiral shape ; tell
them that each turn or twist of the shell is called a whorl; that
all the whorls together are called a spire; that the point of spire,
or cone, is called the apex ; the opening of the shell is called the
mouth, or aperture; that the line dividing the whorls is called a

The shell is a part of the snail, and sometimes is called its house ;
but the snail cannot leave its house and move' about without it. It
cannot live out of its house ; so, when it moves about, it must carry
its house on its back. When the snail wants to move from place to


place, it creeps part way out of its house, so as to get its long foot, or
the flat part on which it moves, on the ground. If you place a live
snail on a piece of glass, and watch its movements as it crawls, you
can see how it moves on its single foot ; for the snail has only one
foot. As the snail begins to move, you will see little horns, or feel-
ers, on the front part of its head, moving about as if feeling its way
along. These feelers have a hard name, and you need not try to re-
member it ; but if you should hear anybody say the tentacles of the
snail, you may know that they mean t\\Q feelers, or horns.

Land-snails have four horns, or feelers ; and on the tips of two of
them may be seen black dots about as large as pin-heads ; these are
the eyes of the snail. The eyes of the sea-snail are usually on small
elevations at the base of the feelers. The mouth is below and between
the horns.

Snails and slugs are soft-bodied animals; they have no bones, or
rings, or joints in their bodies. They have cold blood, and are cov-
ered with a skin, from which oozes a gummy fluid ; as the snail crawls
along, this fluid leaves a slimy trail behind it.

Lead the pupils to notice how quickly the ends of the feelers, con-
taining the eyes, are drawn back when they are touched. This shows
that the snail has the sense of feeling. Let the pupils also notice how
the snail eats, by placing it on a leaf of lettuce or cabbage. It breathes
by holes in the sides of its body.

In autumn land-snails bury themselves in the ground, retire within
their shells, and close the mouth of the shell with a film of gummy
mucus. In this condition the snails remain until the warm weather
of spring revives them again.

Snails are hatched from very small, jelly-like eggs about the size
of homoeopathic pellets. A single snail will lay from fifty to one hun-
dred eggs. These eggs possess great vitality, and may be dried so
as to crumble between the fingers, yet moisture and warmth will re-
store them in a single hour. The eggs hatch in two or three weeks ;
and at first the young snail has a very small shell, containing only
one whorl and a half; but the shell grows larger as the snail grows.

By placing several snails, early in spring, in a box with earth, rot-
ten wood, or damp leaves, their eggs may be seen in a few weeks.
If the eggs are kept on moist leaves in a warm place, they will hatch
out, and small snails grow during the summer. If the shell of the
snail becomes broken a little, the snail can repair it.

Slugs are snail-like animals ; but they have no shell or house.
They are found on plants in gardens, and on the under side of
boards lying on damp ground. Slugs are very destructive to plants.



Sometimes the gardener puts dry ashes around his plants to keep
the slugs away.

The slug can spin a thread of the slimy substance with which it
makes a path ip creep on, and lower itself from a table to the floor ;
but it cannot creep back again on this thread.

Some slugs lay five hundred eggs. Toads eat slugs.


Sometimes when you go in the garden or walk along a road-side,
after a shower, you will see a little animal hop out of your way ;
and I suppose some of you wonder where these toads came from,
and w r hat they are doing. Toads dig holes in soft earth, or hide un-
der leaves. When a rain is over, they hop out of their hiding-place,
and hunt for slugs, worms, and flies for food.

It is very interesting to watch a toad in the garden, as he sits
close to the ground under or near some plant, and waits for a fly or
a worm to come near him. If one appears, the toad does not seem
to notice it ; but as it conies near, the tongue of the toad darts out
suddenly, draws the insect quickly into his mouth, and swallow's it.
The toad does not seize the insect while it is motionless; but as soon
as it moves, as if to get away, the wonderful tongue pulls it into his
mouth. And the toad continues to sit quietly in his place, waiting
for more food to move within the reach of his tongue.

The toad is a much-abused creature. Some people say that he is
poisonous ; that if you touch him warts will come on your hands ;
and many other bad things are falsely said about the toad. Its skin
does contain an acrid fluid, which it can cause to flow over its body
for a defence against dogs and other animals. This is very offensive
to dogs, but it is not poisonous to the touch. The fact is, the toad
is a very useful animal, both in gardens and in fields. He moves
around at night, devouring many kinds of insects, as slugs, worms,
moths, caterpillars, crickets, flies, etc. Sometimes gardeners collect
a large number of toads, and place them among their plants, that
they may destroy the insects. Toads are sometimes tamed, and then
they will creep out of their hiding-place, on hearing a familiar call
or whistle, to eat the flies, spiders, beetles, slugs, or other insects that
are placed before them.

Do not abuse the homely toad ; he is much better than he looks.
When you have watched him while he catches flies, and remember
how useful he is, you will not think of his appearance.

Did you ever see polliwigs in a small pond of water, in- the spring-
time ? Tadpole is another name for this little animal. Do you know


what becomes of these tadpoles ? If you should take some of them
out of the pond, and keep them in a basin of water for a few days,
you would see some wonderful changes. First, two small feet and
legs would come out near the tail. Soon afterward two more legs
would appear near the head. In a few days after the tail becomes
shorter and shorter, until it all disappears, and the tadpole has be-
come a toad; it then creeps out of the water, and hops away to hunt
for food. Did you ever catch tadpoles, and watch them as they
change into toads ?

I will tell you one more interesting fact about the toad, which you
might not learn unless you should watch him for many months. The
skin of the toad is its dress. As the young toad grows, his dress be-
comes too small for him, and it splits open ; then he pulls it off, and
eats it up. How do you suppose he gets a new dress ? Before the
old skin splits open, a new skin grows under it; so, when the old
dress is pulled off, the new dress is already finished and on the toad.
In this way the toad changes his dress once a year; and he rolls the
old dress up in a ball and swallows it. Snakes change their dresses
once a year, but they do not eat up their old clothes; they crawl
out and leave them. Perhaps you have seen an old dress that some
snake had left on the ground.


Did you know that a grasshopper is a fiddler? You have heard
the music made by this insect, and many have supposed that he
made it with his mouth, as children do when they sing; but that is
not the way his music is made. I will tell you how he does make
his music; then, if you sometimes see him while he is fiddling, you
will know what he is doing.

If you will carefully examine a grasshopper, look at the veins run-
ning through the wings and in the wing-covers, and also examine
his hind legs, and you will see what he uses for his fiddles. The
edges of the wings and the wing-covers are the strings, and the hind legs
of this insect are the bows. When the grasshopper begins to play on
his fiddles, he bends the shank of one hind leg beneath the thigh,
and then draws the leg up and down against the edges of the wings
or wing-covers. He does not use one bow all the time, but changes,
and moves the shank of the other hind leg as before, playing awhile
with that. Some grasshoppers rub one wing-cover upon the veins
of the other; some rub together the front edge of the wings and the
under surface of the wing-covers.

Crickets make their chirping sounds by rubbing the base of one


wing - cover upon the veins running through the middle of the

I will tell you how to get very near a grasshopper, so that you can
see him fiddle. When you hear a grasshopper's music, walk very
quietly toward the sound until it stops, and then wait for it to begin
again. Now try to determine the location of the insect ; then step
quickly, but quietly, within five or six feet of the fiddler, and get on
your hands and knees; then rub the edge of a quill on a file, which
you have taken with you, to imitate the sounds of the grasshopper.
First make the sounds softly, separating them by considerable inter-
vals ; then make them louder, and in quicker succession. In a little
time the grasshopper will forget his fears at your approach, and be-
gin to fiddle so loudly that you can creep still nearer, so as to see all
the movements of your insect musician.

Grasshoppers shed their skins several times as they grow larger.
You may be able to find some of this young musician's old clothes
fiddle, strings, and bows hanging on a spire of grass, and then
you can examine them carefully.

Grasshoppers are hatched from eggs. The young grasshopper is
very small, and has no wings. As it grows, its first suit becomes
too small, splits open, and the insect crawls out in a new suit of
clothes. The insect continues to grow changing his old clothes
for new ones until he has attained his full size, and has all his mu-
sical instruments complete.

Sometimes little boys are cruel to these fiddlers, and steal their
lows. Then the poor insect cannot make any more music, nor hop
out of your path. Is it right to treat the grasshopper so ?


Some spiders are spinners and weavers; some are hunters; some fly
"kites; and some are ~balloonists. When would you call a spider a spin-
ner ? When a weaver ? When a hunter ? Can j r ou tell what they do
that resembles kite-flying? Did you ever hear of their making bal-
loons, and going up in the air with them ?

Weaving-spider. Probably the pupils will be able to tell some-
thing about the spider spinning and weaving its web ; possibly they
may have seen the woven webs prepared for catching flies. Having
obtained from the pupils what they know about this work of the
spider, proceed to give other facts ; among them, tell how the spider
hunts for food.

Hunting- spider. This spider does not build nests, but it wanders
about until it comes near a fly or other insect, then it suddenly springs


upon it like a cat. The hunting-spider is small, and its color black
and white.

The Spider's Kite. When a spider wants to stretch a web from
one high place to another as from a post to a fence she watches
and waits until the wind blows in the right direction to carry her
fine string where she wants to fasten it. Then she spins a little ball
or bunch of web, fastens the fine string to it, and as she spins lets the
wind carry her kite and string to the fence or other object. When
it reaches the desired point, and becomes fast, the spider fastens her
end of the thread, and then goes over the fine string and fastens
the other end more securely. Sometimes she adds one or two more
threads to this line, to make it stronger.

The Balloon-spider. The balloonists are young spiders. When
the air is favorable, they throw up long threads which float in the
air. These threads are folded together at the bottom, so as to form
a place for the young spider to lie. When all is ready for the start,
the little air-voyager gets upon her balloon, folds up her legs, and
the wind carries her a long distance over the fields. In the autumn
the long threads of the balloon-spider may be seen in the morning
on the grass, covered with dew.

Insects. Ants, flies, bees, and butterflies are insects. Their bodies
are divided into three parts the head, the middle body, or thorax,
and the hind body, or abdomen. The legs and wings of insects are
attached to the middle body.

If you examine the body of a spider, you will find it divided into
only two parts the head body and the hind body. Spiders have eight
eyes, like small black beads, and four pairs of legs. Flies, bees, and
ants have only three pairs of legs. The feet of the spider are adapt-
ed to walking on the web. Each foot is furnished with three claws ;
the middle one is bent over at the end, forming a long finger for
clinging to the web, or for guiding the thread in spinning. The
outer claws are curved, and toothed like a comb. Opposite the claws
are several stiff hairs, which are toothed like the claws, and serve as
a thumb for the claws to shut against.

At the hinder end of the spider there are little protuberances,
called spinnerets, arranged in pairs. These contain a fluid somewhat
resembling the white of an egg. The spinnerets are covered with
fine, jointed, hollow hairs, through which this fluid flows out, form-
ing the finest of fibres so fine that hundreds of them united to-
gether form the single thread of a spider's web, which is strong
enough to hold a fly when struggling to escape.


There are many kinds of spiders, and they have many interesting
habits, which, may be discovered by carefully watching them. The
female spider does the spinning and weaving, and she lives on the
web when finished. The male spider is seldom seen during the

The young spiders are hatched from eggs ; and they shed their
skins, as they grow up, as grasshoppers do. The eggs of the spider
are deposited in a ball-like sack ; and this sack may be found under
stones, boards, logs, etc. The sack of spiders' eggs may be kept in a
box or bottle, and in due time the young spiders will hatch out. A
hundred of them may hatch from a single sack, but usually not more
than one-tenth of them live to reach adult size.

Although so generally dreaded, spiders may be handled with safety.
They can bite only that which comes between their jaws, and these
are so small that it is very rarely that they attempt to bite anything
except an insect. Each little jaw of the spider has a minute hole
near the end ; and when an insect is bitten a small drop of a poison-
ous fluid is forced through these little holes into the wound inflicted,
and this kills the fly or other insect. This poison has about the same
effect on a person as the bite of a mosquito. Very large spiders
such as are found in hot countries are more poisonous. The com-
mon spider is very timid, and is more anxious to escape by running
away than to .defend itself.


Teacher. What are hats for?

Children. To wear on the head.

T. I thought so ; but I saw a boy spoiling his hat by trying to
catch a butterfly. I know you like to see butterflies, and like to
chase them, so I will tell you how to catch them without spoiling
your hat. Make a small hoop of rattan, or of willow, about the size
of your hat-rim. Fasten it to a handle about three feet long, and
get your sister to make a small bag of mosquito-netting, and fasten
it around the hoop. When you want to catch butterflies, take this
hoop, creep near them, and swing your net over them.

Butterflies are among the most beautifully clothed of the insect
tribes. They seem to spend a life of simple enjoyment. But where
do these beautiful creatures come from ? They are not the children
of big butterflies. I will tell you something about these fairy beings,
and then you must try to learn more by watching them, and observ-
ing their changes.

Eggs are laid by a butterfly; from these eggs caterpillars are


hatched. The caterpillar eats, grows, sheds its skin ; eats, grows,
and sheds its skin several times. During this stage the caterpillar
is called a larva, which means a mask. It is so called because the

Online LibraryNorman Allison CalkinsManual of object-teaching : with illustrative lessons in methods and the science of education → online text (page 15 of 35)