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Geography - Senior Grade

( Originally Published 1915 )


PLAN to cover the Course in one year, the time usually required to complete the work of the Senior Grade of Form I. This can be readily done, provided (a) that general notions only are taught, and (b) that lesson topics are chosen exclusively from what can be observed in the home locality.

It is not required that the work should be taught in the order as outlined below. Lessons should be given when the time is most opportune. For example, a lesson on " Rain" may be taken on a rainy day ; on " Autumn", in the fall of the year; on the "Full Moon ", when the moon is full, etc.

Keep a record of all lessons taught.


Under this heading may be taken, as topics of class instruction, only those more or less permanent objects or landmarks that are likely to attract attention. As these lessons must be based upon actual observations made by the pupils themselves, only such topics should be selected as are connected with objects found in the locality. For example, if a mine, or a lighthouse, or a toll-gate, or a jail is in the neighbourhood, it becomes a legitimate object of class study. If, however such things are not found, obviously they can not be used for observation purposes, and hence must not, at this stage, be used as lesson topics.

In other words, what may be an appropriate lesson topic in one place may be quite inappropriate in another.


Such topics as the following may be used for lesson purposes:

Country, city, town, village, farm, lot, line fence, road, concession road, side road, town line, base-line, toll-gate, street, side-walk, lane, bridge, culvert, field, meadow, pasture, bush, park, clearing, orchard, garden, rocks, boulders, church, school, town-hall or township hall, fair grounds, house of refuge, public library, jail, court-house, cemetery, fort, monument, tower, wharf, break-water, pier, dam, lighthouse.

For hints on teaching the following topics, see " Suggestions for Lessons ", Chapter V : Country, town, village, roads, the school, house of refuge.


The pupils are already more or less familiar with the general terms denoting direction. Hence, all that is required is to give them an opportunity in class to use such terms definitely and consciously. In this way their meaning and application are likely to be so impressed upon the pupils that they should be able to use them intelligently and freely in ordinary conversation.


Up, down; above, below; upward, downward; skyward, earthward; forward, backward, sideways; front, side, back; beside, behind, over, under, beyond, between; outward, inward; right, left; east, west, north, south; north-west, north-east, south-east, south-west; windward, leeward.

For hints on teaching the following topics, see " Suggestions for Lessons ", Chapter V : Up, down ; front, side, back, etc.; right, left; east, west, north, south; windward, leeward.



Day, night, morning, evening; sunrise, sunset; day-break, twilight; noon, forenoon (a.m.), afternoon (p.m.) ; hour, minute, day (24 hours) ; week, days of week, mid-week, week end; fortnight; today, tomorrow, yesterday; month, names of months, number of days in each

Thirty days has September, ' April, June, and November.

February has twenty-eight alone, And all the rest have thirty-one, But leap year coming once in four February then has one day more.

For hints on teaching the following topics, see " Suggestions for Lessons ", Chapter V : Day, night, minute, hour.


(a) Weather:

Advantage should be taken of wet and dry days, of warm and cold days, of rain storms, etc., for conversational lessons. Only common phenomena with their general effects should be discussed here. The pupils of this Grade have not the maturity of mind required to understand the physical causes of such phenomena. Keep a simple daily weather record on the black-board or on a large card and, with the pupils' help, fill in daily.

Wet, dry, warm, hot, sunny, cloudy, cold, frosty, wintry, calm, windy, stormy, misty, foggy, etc.

Winds, clouds, fog, rain, thunder and lightning, rain-bow, white frost, ice, snow, hail, sleet, drought.

For hints on teaching the following topics, see " Suggestions for Lessons ", Chapter V : Wet, dry, cold, etc. ; winds; clouds, fogs; rain; thunder and lightning; dew; ice.

(b) The sun :

Observations of the sun as the source of light and heat, its progress from sunrise to sunset, its absence during the night, its shifting shadows, relative lengths of day and night.

(c) The moon:

Observations of its changing position and appearance, its source of light. The "Big Dipper" and the North Star.

For hints on the teaching of these topics, see " Suggestions for Lessons ", Chapter V : The Sun, The Moon.

(d) The seasons:

Names of the four seasons; the months comprised in each; a few of the chief characteristics of each season giving special attention to the varying length of day and night, to the character of weather, and to the chief out-door activities of play and work.

These general observations may be followed by separate lessons on each of the seasons, taken only in season.

For hints on teaching the following topic, see " Suggestions for Lessons ", Chapter V : Autumn.


(1) According to the Course of Study for this Grade, simple observations of the land and water forms in the neighbourhood are to be taught. In planning a series of lessons covering this prescribed outline of work, the teacher is recommended, at the beginning of the term, to make a list of the land and water forms that are actually found in the neighbourhood and to confine the lesson topics to the list thus made.

Many localities in eastern and northern Ontario are supplied with land and water forms in almost endless variety. In such places the teaching of these forms will present little difficulty, as the observational method may be freely used. In many other parts of the Province, how-ever, the teacher must be content with a much smaller variety. Informally, and to supplement the above Course, the wide-awake teacher may, however, find opportunities to give his pupils an elementary notion of many of these land and water forms, even when they are not actually found in the locality.

In the spring time and after a heavy rainfall, the school yard, the roadsides, and neighbouring fields are covered with innumerable miniature lakes, islands, capes, straits, etc., which will serve to illustrate most of the land and water forms of the wide world. Why should use not be made of these very concrete objects to inculcate correct geographical notions? All that is required is to teach that this is an island because it is surrounded by water; that that is a strait because it joins two larger bodies of water; etc., etc. Then set the pupil to discover for himself as many islands, straits, etc., as possible. This practical work will prove a source of great delight to him, and the knowledge thus gained will be accurate and lasting.

(2) No skilled teacher in this grade of work wastes his own time and that of his pupils by merely talking about things and requiring that the exact words of a book definition should be memorized. In acquiring his general knowledge of the land and water forms in the neighbour-hood, why should the child not be allowed to get it in the way in which he got his knowledge of a hat, or of a dog, or of a table, etc.? He learned to know these things by sensing them, by coming into contact with them. Why should he not get his knowledge of a hill, or of a plain, or of a brook, in the same way?

Take a brook for illustration. By one method the pupil may, by hearing the teacher talk, talk, talk, learn the stereotyped definition, " A brook is a small stream of fresh water flowing over the land ". By the other method he will study the brook itself and may discover for him-self the following: A brook is running water. The water is fresh. The brook runs downward. The brook winds about. Where the brook is swift, the slope of the land is steep. In some parts the bottom of the brook is rocky, or gravelly, or muddy. The water flows slowly over the muddy bottom. The brook grows larger as it flows down-ward. The land slopes to the brook on both sides, etc., etc.

Which pupil knows more about the brook, the one who learned the definition by hearing the teacher talk about it, or the one who learned the facts by seeing and discovering for himself? Which pupil has gained the greater power in the study? Which has the knowledge best suited to his later life? The pupil has a right to learn to describe objects in his own words, in order that he may gain in his power to see and to express. What right has the teacher to deprive him of growth merely that, for promotion examination or for other purposes, he may, appear to know what he really does not know?


Hill, valley, ravine, plain, island, stream, rapids, water-fall, pond, lake, canal, harbour, drain, ditch, swamp, etc., as found in the neighbourhood.

For hints on teaching the following topics, see " Suggestions for Lessons ", Chapter V : Hills ; a ditch.



Foods and their preparation, such as flour, meal, butter, cheese, meats.

Clothing material, such as wool, cotton, linen, silk, leather; their source, but not their manufacture unless carried on locally.


Activities, such as seeding, harvesting, thrashing, marketing, fruit-growing, poultry-keeping, clearing land, lumbering, drainage, etc., as carried on by local farmers.


The store, post-office, shop, factory, mill, railway, gravel-pit, brick-yard, quarry, mine, fishery, etc.

For hints on teaching the following topics, see " Suggestions for Lessons ", Chapter V : Bread ; the farm ; the store; the cheese factory; the railway.

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