Free Nature Studies: Sheep and Their Shepherds

Free Nature Studies: Sheep and Their Shepherds
Free Nature Studies: Sheep and Their Shepherds

Man has been tending sheep for many centuries and continues to reap the benefits of the sheep’s wool today.

Read the current chapter online: “Sheep and Their Shepherds”

  • Copy and illustrate John 10:14.
  • Read Genesis 9:1-3 for the account of God giving the sheep to man as food, just as He had the herb.
  • Read Genesis 3 for the account of the first time man wore animal skin as clothing.  How was it acquired?
  • View a Rocky Mountain sheep.
  • You can read Enos. A. Mills’ description of the “Wild Mountain Sheep” in his book, The Rocky Mountain Wonderland.
  • Read the story of the “Wild Wool” in John Muir’s Steep Trails.
  • Read Genesis 4:2-4 for the first mention of a man keeping flocks.
  • Read Genesis 13:1-6 for an account of how those with flocks lived.
  • List some of the uses of wool.  (You’ll find helpful resources below.)
  • Read about why wool is warm (even when wet) and will wear longer than cotton at
  • Examine wool under a magnifying glass or microscope.  You’ll find resources below to help.
  • Examine cotton under a magnifying glass or microscope.  Note the differences between wool and cotton fibers at ThinkQuest.
  • View modern whorl spinners.
  • Memorize and recite Psalm 23.
  • Look up Bible verses that deal with sheep and lambs.
  • Something to do #1: Make your own spindle and whorl by following these instructions at
  • Something to do #2: Now use your new drop spindle to make a thread of wool. with instructions at
  • Something to do #3: You’ll find resources below for investigating weaving.  Meanwhile, make your own cardboard loom with instructions at
  • Something to do #4: You can use the storybook notebooking paper below for illustrating or pasting your sheep picture and copying your Bible verse.
  • Something to do #5: You’ll find notebooking pages below for listing sheep’s uses to man.
  • Something to do #6: Act out or narrate the parable of the little lost sheep.  You’ll find the story in Luke 15:4-7.
  • Copy and memorize John 10:12-15.
  • Read “The Lamb” by William Blake.
  • More about sheep from the Book of Knowledge:

Wool is really a living part of a sheep; it is produced by the epidermal cells. The difference between wool and hair is that the wool fibre has a covering of pointed scales, or plates, overlapping like fish scales and attached to the fibre at their bases. This scaly coat can be seen through a microscope. If a wool fibre is drawn through the fingers a certain roughness can be felt. The overlapping scales, when brought together at an angle, tend to mat together, or “felt.” That is why the wool of the sheep is different from all other fibres animal or vegetable.

Among other extremely valuable characteristics of wool fibre are its resilience and elasticity. These properties not only give a soft texture to cloth made of wool, but they also provide strength and resistance to wear. [The domesticated sheep in the world] are producing wool that is taken from them once a year and woven into cloth to keep us warm. This involves no cruelty to the sheep, for it is the same thing for the animal as hair-cutting is for us. The wool soon grows again, and as the shearing is done in spring, when the weather is warm, the animal does not suffer from the cold in any way, but is relieved of its burden….

The question is sometimes asked why a wool garment keeps us warm when a cotton or a linen one does not. There is always a great deal of air between the hairs, or wool-strands, on an animal’s back, and the fluffier the wool is, the more air is held by it. Heat finds it very difficult to get across a layer of air, because air is a bad conductor. So, whether the wool which holds a layer of air is on the animal’s back or on our back in the form of clothes, it keeps the body warm by the way it prevents the body heat from passing off into the atmosphere.

As a matter of fact, a wool garment will keep us cool in summer as well a warm in winter, for just as it prevents the heat of the body from passing out, it prevents the heat of the sun and air from passing in. That is why the iceman [used to!] send his ice through the streets covered with a thick blanket. He thus [saved] it from being melted by the sun.

“Wool and Its Story,” The Book of Knowledge
  • Sheep
    Ready to go outdoors? The Handbook of Nature Study covers sheep beginning on page 270, and continuing through page 274.

Further Investigation

Sheep Wool
The unique properties of wool, along with microscope illustrations of wool fiber at Geauga County, Ohio 4-H.

Characteristics of Wool
Why wool is warm and durable.

Fast Facts
Lots of informative downloads about sheep and wool at the American Sheep Industry Association.

Breeds of Livestock
A look at the different types of sheep breeds and their primary uses at Oklahoma State University.


Comparing and Contrasting Different Fibers
Experiment from that includes method and recording chart.  (Use arrows at the top to navigate.)

Activity: Fiber Detective
What type of fabrics go through your dryer? Find out with this activity.

Wool Experiment
Testing the properties of wool with a simple experiment at the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery.

Paper Weaving
Craft idea at

Create Your Own Frame Loom
If you want something more substantial and long-lasting than the cardboard loom, using these instructions for assembling your own at


BAA, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full:

One for the master,
One for the dame,
But none for the little boy
Who cries in the lane.

From The Little Mother Goose

MARY had a little lamb with fleece as white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go.
It followed her to school one day, that was against the rule.
It made the children laugh and play, to see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned it out, but still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about till Mary did appear.
“Why does the lamb love Mary so,” the eager children cry,
“Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know!” the teacher did reply.

From The Little Mother Goose

Milo Winter’s Aesop Fables
Free ebook that contains many fables about lambs and sheep.

“Smudge the Little Lost Lamb”
One of the stories in James Herriot’s Treasury for Children, a book frequently found on homeschool shelves and a family favorite!

Mountain Born by Elizabeth Yates
Warm read about a young boy who grows with his lamb, and the old shepherd who trains him.  Highly recommended as a family read-aloud!

Hand-Loom Weaving: A Manual for School and Home by Mattie Phipps Todd
A beginners’ manual in the public domain where you can learn about weaving for Something to do #3 above.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Wool and Sheep Activity Book
35-page download at the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture full of activities to help a student learn about wool.  Covers geography, history, economics, and language arts.

Sheep ‘N More
Information and activities from the Texas Farm Bureau.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep
To go with Something to do #6, one of the free lessons from the free 325-Lesson Bible Curriculum at Calvary Chapel Children’s Ministries with coloring page, memory verse and activities.

The Good Shepherd
You may also be interested in this free lesson to go with the memory work mentioned in the suggestions above.

Combining Read-Alouds With Economics in the Primary Grades
Fun lesson plan using sheep and wool production as the focus.  Includes read-alouds, sequencing activities, discussion questions, and ideas for extending the lesson (more book suggestions included).  Lesson plan from ReadWriteThink that helps students make connections.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Drawing & Writing Notebooking Paper {Free Download}
With space at the top for illustrating and room at the bottom for copying John 10:14 as suggested above.

Printable Microscope Lab Sheet
Notebooking page from Great Scope for observing wool fibers and comparing to cotton.

Sheep Anatomy
Diagram for notebook at

Animal Report Form
Record the fast facts on this free form at Highland Heritage.

Sheep & Their Shepherds Notebooking Pages
Simple pages that go with the lesson for copywork, narrations, or Something to Do #5.

Enjoy the complete series:
Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World