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ANY child is likely to see the building of a A house, bridge, fence, barn, shed, road, sidewalk, Aume, ship, or wharf, at times during its construction. He can scarcely have done so without learning something which he may tell. The name, position, use, shapes, dimension, relations to other parts, of the rafters, beams, studding, flooring, shingles, laths, sheeting, casings, sill, panels, etc., etc., of a house, the materials of any structure and their several uses, will interest most children, if any one who knows will take the trouble to show and explain them.
City children who liave most opportunity to see building are generally ignorant of the names of the most common timbers used. Inquiry in a city class studying “ Evangeline " found but two or three boys who had an idea of what was meant by gable and rafter. Experiment will show that this was not a case of uncommon ignorance. Example :
Come, now, let us build a house. What must we do first? Decide upon the place; city, country, village, suburb; then buy the ground, choosing what kind of frontage? What shall be our plan? A house large enough for how many ? We must find a builder and ask about the probable cost. Shall we “give him the contract," or see to everything ourselves? What other men besides the builder shall we need to consult and employ? What kind of roof, windows, porches, front door, stair, etc., etc.? What materials shall we buy, and where?
Having thus obtained a knowledge of how much the pupils know about these matters, add other accurate details, and ask them to be prepared to answer questions on these new facts. At the second lesson, continue the conversation, questioning in like manner, and then let them begin to write a composition about “How I would Build my House."
Other subjects of the same kind: “A Hothouse for my Flowers," "A New School-house,” a church, a plank sidewalk, a camping-cabin, a log-cabin, a barn, a bridge over a brook. Read : Sill's “ Field-Notes," chapter viii. Sill's “The House and the Heart," Lowell's “ The Dead House." William Black's “ A Princess of Thule.” Longfellow's “The Old House by the Lindens.”
Thoreau's “Walden.” (Chapter on “Economy.”)
Burns's “Cotter's Saturday Night.”
THE SCHOOL-HOUSE. THE approach and situation of the schoolI house, the surroundings, the outside, the inside, (1) as they are, and (2) as they should be, will form interesting topics.
What could we do ourselves to improve our school-house? For country schools this is often a very important question, especially if the lack of interest in education has decreed that an uninviting, bare, wooden structure, with nothing attractive in itself or in its situation, has been made the educating-place of the district.
The walls, inside and out, could be cleaned and kept clean of any marring; if they are not of bare, rough, unpainted wood and are clean, they can be adorned with pictures (good wood-cuts from Harper's weeklies, if nothing else can be had), vases of flowers (brown earthen fruit jars, or glasses), large pressed ferns tastefully arranged, or whatever else suitable the district affords. If they are of unpainted wood, they might be coated, above the blackboards, and out of the reach of rubbing, with whitewash (tinting it gray or buff improves the effect,) and then adorned in the same way, the children doing most of the work, under supervision.
The grounds can be improved, at least to the extent of clearing away and keeping away all rubbish and litter; mud-holes can be filled up or drained, so that there is some appearance of comfort in the surroundings.
However that may be, write about the schoolhouse and grounds; and perhaps send home the result of the work to be shown to parents. If there are any pupils in the school who have formerly been in better school-louses, let them add a comparison to their papers. A reform in the district notions of a proper school-house will soon build the school.house.
NOTE. With a dozen or so borrowed bed sheets and a wagon-load of Woodwardia, an enterprising teacher once transformed a dingy, bare barn of a school-house into a surprising fairy bower for a Christinas exhibition day.
SIMPLE exercises in comparing familiar ob
jects, as two leaves of different kinds and shapes, a beet and a carrot, a peach and a plum, an apple and a pear, a stone and a piece of wood, may be made valuable in cultivating the habit of close observation.
Consider, first, points of likeness; then, corresponding qualities; finally, qualities or characteristics not common to the two things, if such exist.
Suggestions : Materials used in many of the preceding exercises serve well for this. The following are good for beginning: an ear of corn and an ear of wheat; a plant of oats or of rye, barley, or corn. Choose such only as are somewhat familiar to the pupils and level with their capacity.
Let the first exercise of this kind illustrate the general method to be used in making comparisons; pass from simple natural objects to those requiring more thought and study; for example, an oak tree and an elm tree; a pine and a fir; a