« AnteriorContinuar »
as they did at their social period every day. Games brought the celebration to a close.
These two parties were typical. Christmas, Lee's Birthday, Valentine's Day, Washington's Birthday, and Easter were appropriately celebrated. In May we held a picnic.
THE GARDEN. The garden was, indeed, the center of the school activity. All the children were farmers, girls as well as boys. Eventually they studied the soil as to formation, varieties of soil-gravel, sand, clay, humus the moisture in the soil, the amount of moisture, and the action of water gravitation and capillarity. They studied the weather, and learned the effect that wind, rain, snow, and frost have on a farm. In an elementary way they learned something of fertilizers. They learned why a cover crop is used on the uncultivated portions of a farm and of the necessity for a rotation of crops.
They learned how far apart rows must be and how far apart the seed in the row. They estimated the amount of seed necessary for their garden, and were encouraged to consult seed catalogues, Government bulletins, and various books on agriculture.
They germinated some of the various kinds of seed, and discovered the conditions necessary for germination. They compared the different seeds, as to their manner of germination. They learned the names of the parts of the seed, e. g., of the bean: Seed coats, hilum, microphyle, cotyledons, radicle, plumule, etc. They studied the methods of cultivation. They watched the unfolding of each plant and learned the names of all the parts—root, stem, leaf, bud, blossom, fruit, seed. They learned the kinds of roots, the kinds of stems, and the kinds of leaves. They learned the parts of the blossom and that there were two essential parts. They learned that these two parts are often borne on different parts of the plant and even on separate plants.
They learned something of the plant families. It was easy to see that the potato and horse nettle belonged to the same family by the similarity of the leaf and bloom and by the Colorado potato beetle infesting both plants. It was harder to find that the tomato belonged to this family also.
They studied the weeds and grasses in the garden, first, to know how they injured the plants and, second, to find the best way in which to get rid of them.
Animals, birds, insects, toads, and worms were studied in their relation to the garden. The animals found in the garden were the mole and the rabbit. The birds that visited it were the English sparrow and some of the other sparrows, the mockingbird, bluebird,
brown thrush, woodpecker, flicker, cardinal, orchard oriole, and blue jay. The children called the English sparrow “town bird.” They found him altogether unlovely. The others we decided were our friends. Of insects there were a host, and of all these only one, the little ladybird beetle, was a friend. Some of the foes were aphides, potato beetles, cut worms, corn worms, larva of cabbage butterfly, and squash bug. The children found that the homely toad and the earth worm were friends. Each child kept a record of the observations made in a book which he called “A Book of Bugs."
The following was written in one of these books about the cabbage butterfly:
McIver caught a cabbage butterfly. It is greenish, yellowish, whitish. The wings have dark markings on them. It has four wings. It has six legs. It has two antennæ. They have knobs on them.
Estelle found a larva of the cabbage butterfly on a cabbage leaf. It looks like a green worm.
Jessie found some eggs of the cabbage butterfly on a cabbage leaf. The eggs are small. They are just the color of the cabbage leaf. May 28. We have not found a chrysalis. [A chrysalis was found later.)
Each child kept a Garden Book in which he recorded the various things of interest about his plants from the time they were planted until they were harvested. Below is a copy of what was written in a garden book about peas.
May 21--Picked one peck of peas.
of the money.
A STUDY OF CORN.
The extent to which the work in reading, number, and writing is combined with other activities in our school has already been noted. To indicate the development of this plan it is desirable to take one plant from our garden and show in detail how we combined nature study and the more formal subjects. Corn is the plant taken for this illustration.
Our study of corn began in the winter with a study of soil. We asked ourselves what soil was. The children brought some soil in where we could all examine it. The children felt the soil. Since it was moist, it must contain water. How much water? How could we find out ? After some time one child thought of weighing the soil, drying it out, and weighing it again. We took three pounds (a little over a quart) weighed it, let it dry in the sun and weighed it again. The loss in weight was only about one-eighth of a pound. We then dried it out in the oven of the stove and weighed it again. The loss this time was a little less than one-eighth of a pound, making the total loss one-eighth pound plus one-eighth pound, or onefourth pound. What became of the water? The teacher then taught the word “evaporated” for dried out.
The teacher said that she knew how to get rid of something else that was in the soil. She weighed the soil that had had all the water evaporated from it and recorded the weight. She put the soil in an iron vessel on the stove and allowed it to get red hot. When it was cold again it was weighed and the result was a slight loss in weight. What was it that burned in the soil? The teacher showed the children the humus. She let them see the tiny pieces of leaves, sticks, etc., and asked them to guess now what was burned out of the soil. The teacher explained the expression “ organic matter” and showed that “organic matter” was in the garden soil, although it could not be seen. In this way we discovered two things in our soil-water and organic matter.
The children examined the soil again and discovered a third element-sand. The teacher called the children's attention to the resemblance of the sand grains to little rocks, and said, “ How do you think these little rocks were made? Suppose we rub two stones together over this piece of white paper.” The children did this and saw the tiny particles of rock. “ Do you think this could have happened naturally? What would rub stones together? Cultivating soil rubs them together. Stones rolling down a hill rub together. Don't you think the wind might help? Water sometimes carries stones along and rubs them together.” The teacher took a widemouthed pickle bottle and put stones into it. Then clear water was poured in. “ Look at the water and stones. The water is almost
clear. Shake it vigorously for a long time. Let it settle.
Let it settle. What do you see at the bottom of the bottle? Do you think the streams of water wear away rocks? What do they do with the particles of rock that they wear away? Where did these particles fall in our bottle? Where would they fall in the stream? Which would fall first, the large or small particles?“ Next we took a fruit jar and placed in it common soil, sand, and gravel, and poured some water in. After shaking it vigorously until it was thoroughly mixed, we set it aside to settle. “Where are the gravel, sand, and silt? Let us go to a stream the next time it rains and see if this is really true.” We did so, and found silt at the mouth of the stream, then sand, then gravel, and last of all the stones.
We found some disintegrating granite. One boy found some other rock that was disintegrating. " Why is it going to pieces? What made our jar break when we left water in it that cold night? Do you think something of the kind could have happened here? Tell me how. Tiny particles of water in the rock freeze; this causes the rock to break into pieces." The teacher then told in a simple way of the chemical action of air and water in the weathering of rocks.
We made a collection of stones from the neighborhood. When we went to the field for the minerals the children noticed the different kinds of soils and gathered specimens of each kind. We collected gravel, sand, clay, and humus. The teacher wished to show the children the difference in water gravitation and capillarity of the four kinds of soil collected. To do this we had to have a soil tester. We made a small wooden bench with long legs, and bored auger holes in the top large enough to allow a small round lamp chimney to be run through it up to the enlarged part that fits over the burner. Four lamp chimneys were used. They were placed in an inverted position. Netting was then tied over the lower end of the chimneys.
To show the difference in water gravitation of the various soils, an equal amount of each kind of soil was placed in each chimney and an equal quantity of water poured over the soil. The pupils observed: (1) Which was wet through first; (2) into which the water sank most rapidly; (3) through which the water began to pass first; (4) the appearance of the water as it came through; (5) through which soil most water passed; (6) the difference between clay and humus.
The soil was then allowed to dry in tubes. The children now noticed: (1) Which soil dried first; (2) appearance of the different soils when dry. The children were asked: “Do you think gravel good for our garden? Why not?” We next tested the capillarity of the four kinds of soils. Clean tubes were taken, and an equal amount of soil was placed in each tube as before. Instead of pour
ing the water into the tubes, however, we now put the tube into water and observed how the water rose in the soils. Equal quantities of water were put into four glass cups and one was placed under each tube. The pupils watched to see in which tube the water rose most evenly. They were asked: “Which soil do you think is best for our garden? Why?” We allowed the soil to dry in the tubes. We then took out the soil and put in thoroughly pulverized soil to test for gravitation and capillarity. “Through which soil does water soak most readily? What kind of soil do you think it is best for us to have in our garden, soil that is packed and hard, or loose, pulverized soil ? How deep do you think soil should be loose? Why?” The teacher then told of the benefit of deep plowing and of the necessity for having a thoroughly pulverized seed bed. She then asked these questions: “What kind of a road does clay make? How could you help a muddy clay road? What kind of a road does sand make? How could you help a sandy road?”
Having completed our study of the soil, we next had to find what our plants needed to make them grow. We ma le four experiments, as follows:
I. Place grains of corn between sheets of damp blotting paper. Leare some in warm schoolroom and take other into a cold room.
II. Put some corn into damp sawdust and keep it damp. Put some in dry suwdust and keep it dry. Place side by side in sunny window'. (The children took this as a huge joke. They knew that seed must have water if it is to come up.)
III. Put some corn into a tin can of soil that has a hole in the bottom and is supplied with drainage. Put some corn into can of soil with no hole in the bottom. Place both in sunny window side by side and water at stated periods with equal quantities of water.
IV. Put some corn on damp blotting paper and allow it to get air. Put some corn on damp blotting paper and close box tightly, thus excluding the air.
From experiment I they learned that seed must have warmth to germinate. From experiment II they learned that seed must have moisture to germinate. From experiment III they learned that there can be too much water and also that the seed will rot if allowed to lie in water. From experiment IV they learned that seed must have air to germinate.
“ Are all seed equally good ? ” was the next question. “Suppose we test some seed.” Ears of corn were brought from home, and a few were selected for testing. They were numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. We made a shallow box and filled it with garden soil. We divided this with tape into 6 sections, and numbered the sections from 1 to 6. Five grains from each ear of corn were then planted in the section with the corresponding number. They were watered thoroughly and placed in a sunny window. The same treatment was given to each section of the box.