Reviews by the Andreolas

A review by Karen Andreola:

Handbook of Nature Study
By Anna Botsford Comstock

Ah, how I love spring and summer! I love to open the windows and breathe in the fresh air that flutters the curtains with puffs of warm breezes. It's the perfect time of the school year to satisfy any urges to stretch out legs that been bent under desks, to let strained eyes gaze beyond our books, and to be outdoors again. Nature suddenly becomes very busy, giving us lots to observe and study. A drawing of a daffodil makes an impressive entry in a Nature Notebook. If you sit near a clump of daffodils long enough, you will notice who does the pollinating. How about copying a few verses by the poet Wordsworth on daffodils into the Nature Notebook, while you're at it?

Handbook of Nature Study gives many such suggestions. It provides observation questions, poems, and general information to better acquaint the teacher and student with nature.  If you wish to study farm animals, birds, insects, garden vegetables and flowers, or roadside weeds and wild flowers, trees, the pond or forest, you'll be supported in your endeavors. When one of my children attempted to follow the suggestion for placing a few drops of sugar water in a container with her capture, Mr. Daddy Longlegs, she almost drowned him. But we did get to see him groom himself, nibbling each leg to his hair-like end. He stayed long enough to be drawn in her Notebook.

This thick, 850-page book written in 1911 is a teacher's guide. The author, founder and head of the Department of Nature study at Cornell University, feels apologetic that the book is so large. However, it does not contain more than any intelligent country child of 12 should know of his environment. I am so glad it has been updated without losing the author's personal touch. Most teachers' guides are not nearly so interesting. Anna's writing is filled with wonder and firsthand knowledge, allowing us to pick up her enthusiasm for God's creation. This makes the text a hundred times more valuable than its faded black & white photographs.  If you plan to make outdoor nature study part of your curriculum (or educational lifestyle) for grades K to 8 and beyond, I recommend Handbook of Nature Study, 850 pages, softcover from Comell University Press.



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