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officers? Has it any public buildings? What are its views on the “whisky question?” Has it many saloons and drunkards? What is the condition of its roads, bridges, water supply, drainage? Is it a healthy place to live in? A good place for boys and girls ? Etc., etc.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCES. THIS may include accounts of early life at 1 home and at school, travels, remarkable occurrences and sights, places of interest visited, and any recollections of early life that a child might like to relate.
In many schools in remote country districts the children have not been out of the neighborhood in which they were born. Their experiences have been confined to what is and what occurs in their own region. But no such child-life is in itself dull, even in the commonest places. The “ Sacred air-cities of Hope" are as likely to be built on such foundation as anywhere else. The eye of youth, a magic lens, indeed, turns even Childe Roland's “ bit of stubbed ground" into a garden ; an acorn-cup is a golden goblet; a yellow leaf will do for a flame to his little woodland fire, when real fire is forbidden; two chairs, a wooden box, and a piece of tape will make a coach and pair, which will change at a wish to an express wagon or a butcher's cart.
If, now, one can only get at all this visionary
life as the child is leaving it for that which we call real!
Dreams that have made definite impression, pets, dolls, holidays at a friend's house, playdays in a garret or barn, visits to the country or city, picnics (but beware of introducing this subject !), nutting parties, etc., etc., will, at least, be interesting to members of young classes.
Care must be taken, however, in such lessons, that unnecessary and uninteresting detail be avoided. Children of the unnoticing and more indolent sorts will write thus: “We started on a picnic one pleasant morning at half-past seven. We took the train to Long Wharf at 8:10. From there, we went to Angel Island, getting in at 10:30. We rested awhile under the trees, ate our lunch, which we enjoyed very much, and started back at 3, arriving at,” etc., etc. Copy such a piece of writing on the board (never fear but you will get such), and show that there is really nothing in such a paper, and that the author of it has missed telling—perhaps missed seeing-anything worth knowing. Such a day's pleasure should have added much to the knowledge of the pupil who wrote this; but if it did, no one knows it.
Get from the class, here, some expression of what might have been of interest. There, surely, were the views from the island, the shipping seen on the way, the touching at Alcatraz, the sight of the ocean, the view of San Francisco, the barracks on the island, the soldiers, the road around the island, the rim of oak and laurel trees, and the shrubs and vines.
After a series of lessons on such subjects, the teacher may try the profitable experiment of going with the class to some place of interest within easy distance; through the day she should make the time spent as interesting as possible, by whatever means are at her command; games new to the children ; a story told under a tree ; climbing a hill ; search for some rare flower, insect, or animal; or explanation of some curious thing found (case of caddis-fly, cocoon of spinning-moth, imperfect forms of water insects, etc.).
In a few days give as the subject for the day's lesson, “Our Excursion to --," asking the class to make as full an account as possible, omitting nothing they can remember. Select from these five or six of the best, and, without comment, ask the authors to read them before the class, requiring all the pupils to express (1) a written opinion of the six, stating which is best and why, and (2) written criticisms on the six.
Remind young pupils each time they criticise a paper thus that the paper, not the author, is to be considered.
Visits to factory, shop, mill, dairy, water-works, salt-works, oyster beds, brick-yards, fisheries, mines, canneries, cattle-ranches, fruit-farms, colleges, schools, iron-works, glass-works, observatories will be sufficiently suggestive as subjects of this kind.
Many of these can be made much more interesting by voluntary illustrations at the board, or on large sheets of coarse paper, of some object, machinery, or what not, given at the time of reading. Require such illustrations occasionally from all, giving subjects suited to the age and capacity of the class. Make this easier by example, illustrating at some convenient time, Friday afternoon, perhaps, both by some simple apparatus (made or brought for the occasion) and by outline drawing, a simple piece of machinery, as the common pump. (Necessary apparatus for this: a common large hand-basin, a clean glass fruit-jar, and two or three feet of one-third inch rubber pipe. Additional helps: an inch of candle and matches, a common tumbler, a saucer, and a leather“ sucker,” such as boys lift stones with.) Make a large outline drawing of the common pump (outside only), before beginning the lesson. Show, by experiments (all previously tried and made to work), with the apparatus mentioned, how water is forced up into the jar by pressure of outside air when inside air has been exhausted by the flame. Put in the drawings of the interior of the pump, at the end of the lesson.