Exploring Nature with Children: The Handbook of Nature Study

This arrived this morning:

It’s the handbook suggested to go alongside our Exploring Nature With Children Curriculum. It’s beautiful. The prose is so delightfully old fashioned that I can’t put it down. It was first published in 1939.

“Nature study cultivates in the child a love of the beautiful; it brings to him early perception of colour, form and music. He sees whatever there is in his environment, whether it be the thunder-head piled up in the western sky, or the gold flash of the oriole in the elm; whether it be the purple of the shadows on the snow, or the azure glint on the wing of the little butterfly. Also, what there is of sound, he hears; he reads the music score of the bird orchestra, separating each part and knowing which bird sings it. And the patter of the rain, the gurgle of the brook, the sighing of the wind in the pine, he notes and loves and becomes enriched thereby.”

How beautiful is that?

Or this:

“Let us not inflict permanent injury on the child by turning him away from nature instead of toward it. However, of the love of nature is in the teacher’s heart, there is no danger; such a teacher, no matter by what method, takes the child gently by the hand and walks with him paths that lead to the seeing and comprehending of what he may find beneath his feet or above his head. And these paths, whether they lead among the lowliest plants, or whether to the stars, finally converge and bring the wanderer to that serene peace and hopeful faith that is the sure inheritance of all those who realise fully that they are working units of this wonderful universe.”

I love it.

Spanning across 700 pages is Anna Botsford Comstock’s elegance prose, covering the teaching of nature, birds, insects, amphibians, trees, wildflowers and everything in between.

“The child studies the cabbage butterfly in all its stages, the exquisitely sculptured yellow egg, the velvety green caterpillar, the chrysalis with its protecting colours, the white-winged butterfly, and becomes interested in the life of the insect. Not under any consideration, when the attention of the child is focused on the insect, should we suggest a remedy for it when it becomes a pest. Let the life story of the butterfly stand as a fascinating page of nature’s book.”

The boys are in bed now, and I sit on my own bed as the day draws to a close around me, with this book resting on my lap. It’s perfect. It’s the nature book I never knew I wanted, and I can’t wait to share it with my boys.

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