If you have enjoyed our free nature study series based on the book Our Wonderful World, then you may enjoy An Introduction to Nature Study as a next step. This free eBook assumes no previous knowledge and takes an “observe and think” approach to nature study:
The aim of Nature-Study, as thus laid down, is not primarily the acquisition of the facts of natural history: it is rather a training in methods of open-eyed, close, and accurate observation, especially of familiar animals and plants, which shall teach the student to see what he looks at, and to think about what he sees.
It is in a spirit of entire agreement with these views that this book has been written. No previous knowledge of Biology on the part of the reader is assumed, and technical terms have as far as possible been dispensed with.An Introduction to Nature Study
The book is divided into two parts: plant life and animal life. Depending on the speed at which you prefer to travel, you may cover the book in two years or the entire book in one year.
Each chapter includes several sections. In each section, you’ll find a series of instructions. For example, in Chapter 2, “How a Green Plant Feeds,” you’ll find a section on how the green plant obtains food from the soil. Within this section there are several activities that demonstrate the point, such as:
Take a healthy plant, say a bean plant, and weigh it. Then dry it thoroughly in the oven and weigh it again. It will be found very much lighter; the difference in weight represents the water which has been driven off. Burn the dried plant. When the flame goes out notice the black charcoal which is obtained. Continue the heating and observe that at last nothing is left but a little grey ash. This experiment can be performed over an ordinary fire by using an old shovel or a tile, but if you can use a porcelain crucible (without lid) and a Bunsen burner (Fig. 18) you will get better results. If a chemical balance is available, weigh the ash and compare it with the weight of ash obtained from an ordinary bean seed, such as that which gave rise to the plant you have used.
The ash from the plant is much greater than that got from the seed. This extra ash must have been taken from the soil during the plant’s growth.
Obviously, you will want to plan ahead so that you have everything you need on hand to do the activities. Some of the necessary items will not be found around the house. Check out our favorite science suppliers for help.
At the end of each chapter are review exercises. These pull on all types of deeper thought processes such as describing, illustrating, comparing, experimenting, and predicting:
1. Make a collection of the seeds of various trees; try to find, in each seed, the cotyledons, radicle, and plumule. Which of the seeds contain stored starch?
2. Soak pine and larch seeds in water for several days and then sow them, with a covering of half an inch of soil. Make notes of the number, shape, size, and behaviour of the cotyledons. How large are the seedlings at the end of the first season?
3. Make similar observations on the growth of sycamore, ash, and beech. Cover the seeds with an inch of soil.
4. Plant seeds of oak and chestnut two inches deep, and make drawings and notes of the stages of growth.
5. Investigate the structure and method of germination of a barley seed, and find out whether barley is a dicotyledon or a monocotyledon.
6. Make experiments to discover the effects, upon the germination of various seeds, of differences of temperature, moisture, and light, and write full accounts of the results obtained.
7. Draw from memory a young seedling of maize, and notice its chief peculiarities. (1898)
8. Draw the seedling of the sycamore in two or more stages, and add short notes. (1898)
9. Draw the root of any seedling that you have studied, giving its name. Mark the exact position of the root-hairs. (1898)
10. Open the nut provided. Draw what is to be found in it in one or two positions. Name the parts and give short explanations. (1901)
11. Explain, with drawings, how certain seedlings withdraw their seed-leaves from the seed-coat. (1901)
12. Describe and explain as far as you can the principal changes to be observed during the germination of a bean or pea. (1901)
13. Describe the germination of a bean, and compare it with that of a grain of wheat. (1898)
14. Describe the structure of a grain of wheat, and contrast it with that of an acorn. (1896)
15. Plant seeds in wet, sticky soil (so that the air cannot easily get to them), and compare their growth with that of similar seeds in a light, open soil.
16. Two acorns are allowed to germinate, one in the neck of a bottle full of water, and the other in an ordinary flower pot. What differences will be noted in the two plants as they grow?
The book is heavily illustrated. These illustrations can be printed and pasted, or better yet, sketched into a nature notebook.
Plant topics covered include:
- Fruits (dispersal).
The animal section covers:
- Hoofed animals.
- Frogs and tadpoles.
- Crustaceans and worms.
The final chapter includes field work with a Monthly Nature Calendar included to aid observation.
If you are using our free nature studies, you will find the two books track nicely. Even if you decide not to use this treasure, you’ll find it very valuable for creating a well-rounded nature study of your own!