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Geography - Local Lessons

( Originally Published 1915 )

THE COUNTRY, if not too rough or rocky, is made up of farms or homesteads. On the farm are the farmhouse in which the farmer lives, barns and stables for his live stock and produce, fields, orchard, bush, etc. Neighbours live farther apart than in towns and villages. Why?

The village is not far away. What is a village? Name the nearest village. What roads lead to it? In villages the lots are much smaller than farms, the houses are close together, there is a post-office, one or more stores, shops, churches, etc. Why is a near-by village a benefit to the surrounding farmers?

The town is much larger than a village. What is the nearest town? What road or roads lead to it? Why is it sometimes called a market-town? What is a market? In a town the lots are small, the buildings are close together, and there are many stores, shops, factories, churches, and other buildings. The public school has a number of rooms or departments with a teacher for each, and there is a high school. What is a high school? The roads are called streets, are lighted at night, and there are side-walks to walk on. Many people work in its stores, factories, and offices.

Roads are used for travel. They are called "public roads" because everybody has the right to use them. What is a lane? For what is it used? In the country, roads are known by different names, such as concession, side road, town-line or boundary. Concession roads usually run lengthways in the township; side roads are cross-roads used for getting from one concession to another. Town-lines or boundary roads separate townships. What is the name of your township? In towns what are roads called? Bridges and culverts are built on roads in order to cross streams and drains. What is the difference between a culvert and a bridge? Farmers living along the road are sometimes required to help to keep it in repair. Such work is called road-work, and the man who has the over-sight of it is known as the pathmaster. Why is he given this name? Roads are made better by grading up and by putting gravel on them. What is meant by " grading up " the road? Take imaginary drives to a near-by village, church, factory, etc., to show knowledge of roads. How did people travel in pioneer days before there were regular roads?


The township is divided into school sections and a school is built in each. In what part of your section is the school placed? Is this the best place for it? Why? What is the name or number of your section? It is placed in charge of trustees who are elected by the people. What is meant by "elected by the people"? Give the names of the trustees. The work of the school is to train the boys and girls to become good citizens. When are men and women good citizens? Schools in the country are known as rural schools.

When people become poor and friendless and too old or too feeble to make their own living, they are sometimes placed in a large home called a House of Refuge. Where is the House of Refuge for your district situated? Usually there is a farm in connection with it. Of what use would the farm be? The inmates get free board and lodging, are kept comfortable, and are kindly treated. Those who are able are given light work to do on the farm or in the house.


Stand up. Sit down. Look up. Look down. Hold hands up. Take hands down. Point up. Point down. Lift foot up. Let foot down. Step up (on platform). Jump down. Throw the ball up. Throw the ball down. Which way is up the river? Down the river?

Which of the following statements is true :

Up to the sky or down to the sky? Why?
Up to the earth or down to the earth? Why?

What did the little bird mean when it sang :
So I flew down, down, down, through the air.
Up in the air I go flying again, Up in the air and down.
Up in the maple tree, tree, tree, Look, and a tiny nest you'll see.

Where is this nest? Why is it safer up there than down on the ground?

In a similar manner teach above, below, etc.


Place a book and a box on the desk. Ask the pupils in turn to place the book in front of the box, at the side of the box, back of the box, beside the box, behind the box, over the box, under the box, beyond the box, between two boxes. Drill briskly.

Vary the exercise by asking Mary to stand in front of Jean, at the side of Jean, back of Jean, beside Jean, behind Jean, beyond Jean, between Jean and Helen, etc.

Locate A's farm with reference to other farms. It is beside B's, beyond C's, between B's and D's, etc.


IF the pupils do not know which is the right hand and which is the left hand, they must be told.

Raise the right hand. Raise the left hand. Which is the right-hand side of the body? The left-hand side? Shut the right eye. Shut the left eye. Touch the right ear. Touch the left ear. Put the right foot forward. Put the left foot forward. What is the boy's name who is standing on your right-hand side? On your left-hand side? When you are sitting in your seat, name the boys and girls who are sitting on your right. Who is standing on John's right? On Mary's left? Do you hold your pencil in the right or the left hand when writing? Do you know any one who writes with his left hand? When you are driving a team of horses, the horse on the right-hand side is called the " off" horse, and the one on the left-hand side the "nigh" horse.


The directions east and west are readily learned in connection with the movements of the sun. It is popularly stated that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Of course we know that this is not strictly true, but we do not need to consider, at this stage, the geographical accuracy of the statement. The pupil may be told that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and he may be drilled upon these directions.

In teaching the directions north and south, the pupil may be asked to stand at noon with his back to the sun, and told that he is facing the north and that the south is directly behind him. Ask him, while facing the north, to extend both arms sideways. In what direction is the right hand pointing? The left hand?

If possible, at this stage show the pupils a compass. From the knowledge already acquired, they will be able to tell that the compass needle is pointing to the north. Tell them that in this part of the world the needle of a good compass always points to the north. Give them practice in the use of the compass. They may now be told that the four directions, north, south, east, and west, are called the four chief, or cardinal, points of the compass.

Ask a pupil to walk northward, then eastward, then southward, then westward. At what end of the school-room is the teacher's desk? The door ? In what direction does the road run? The river flow? In what direction does the wind drive the smoke today, etc.? Vary the drill as much as possible.

Next, consider a place to the north-west. Draw from the pupils that we may reach it (a) by going north and then west, or (b) by going west and then north, or (c) by going in a straight line toward it. Tell them that a straight line to such a place would run in a north-west direction. Show them the appropriateness of the name. Deal with north-east, south-east, and southwest in a similar way, and follow with the usual drill.


Stand outside when the wind is blowing. Point your finger in the direction from which the wind blows. Point in the direction toward which the wind blows. The direction from which it blows is said to be windward; and the direction toward which it blows, leeward. Watch the smoke from a chimney. Which is windward? Which is leeward? Why? When a kite is flying, is the tail to windward or to leeward of it? Why? Can you run faster to windward or to leeward? Why? When a cold wind is blowing, which is warmer, the windward or the leeward side of the house? Why? When the wind is blowing from the west, what direction is leeward? Why? What is windward? If the wind is blowing to the south-east, what direction is windward? Why? Get your father to make a weather-vane shaped like an arrow. Set it up. Does the arrow point to windward or to leeward? Why?



Choose a sunny day for this lesson. What makes it so light today? Where is the sun now? Look. If you did not look at it, how could you tell that it is shining? (By the shadow it makes.) Where was the sun when you came to school? What time of day was it then? Where was your shadow? Where was the sun in the middle of the day? Where will it be when you are going home? Where will your shadow be then? Which is the shady side of the school-house before nine o'clock? Why? Which is the shady side at four o'clock? Why? Where does the sun go down? When does it go down? When the sun goes down we say that it sets, and the time is called sunset. What do we call the dim light before it gets quite dark? (Twilight) When do we say it is night? When is it midnight? Where does the sun rise? When? What do we call the time in the early morning when it is just beginning to get light? (Daybreak or dawn) What name do we give to the early part of the day? (Morning) When is it evening? When is it noon? What name is given to that part of the day between early morning and noon? (Forenoon) Between noon and evening? (Afternoon) A.M. is a short way of writing forenoon; and P.M. of writing afternoon. Do not teach the origin of these abbreviations at this stage.

At what time of the year does it get dark very early in the evening? (In winter) At what time does it keep light until late in the evening? When does the sun rise on summer mornings? (Early) When on winter mornings? Which is longer, a summer day or a winter day?

What is meant by the following stanza :

In winter I get up at night,
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.


Let the teacher, watch in hand, tell the pupil to hold up his hand at a given signal and keep it up until another signal is given at the end of a minute interval of time. Tell him that he had his hand up for one minute. Next ask him to try the experiment without the final signal. The teacher will time him and tell him whether his time interval is too long or too short. How many times can a pupil walk back and forth across the room during a minute of time? In such ways as these the pupil should get a general notion of the length of time in a minute interval. Practise counting one, two, three, etc., until you can count at the rate of thirty counts in a half minute.

When is school dismissed for dinner? (At twelve o'clock) When is it called in for the afternoon's work? (At one o'clock) How long a time did this allow for dinner and play? (One hour) How many minutes are there in one hour? (Sixty minutes) How long is the recess period? How many minutes are there in one half of an hour? In one quarter of an hour? What is meant by a twenty-four hour day?



These terms should be learned incidentally in connection with the daily weather observations recommended in Chapter IV.

Illustrations: What kind of day was Saturday? It was a wet day. Why was it a wet day? What kind of day is this? It is a dry day. What made the weather to-day dry? Was the rain on Saturday a benefit to us? Why? Why is it warmer to-day than it was on Saturday? The sun is shining today; on Saturday the sun could not be seen for rain-clouds.


What is it that we breathe? Does air move? How do you know? Open a window on the sill of which some light pieces of paper have been placed. What happens to the paper? What caused the paper to move? Moisten your hand and hold it near the opening? What do you feel? What objects outside are moved by the air? What name is given to air in motion? Wind is air in motion. In how many ways can you tell that wind is blowing? By sight, by hearing, and by feeling. Give examples of each.

Does the wind always blow from the same direction? What would you call a wind blowing from the north, etc.? A wind is named from the direction from which it comes. What is a west wind, etc.? From what direction is the wind blowing today? How can you tell? Toward what direction does a weather-vane point? Watch a flag flying and tell the direction of the wind. Watch moving clouds. What makes them move?

What is a cold wind? A warm wind? A gentle wind? A strong wind? A high wind? Why are north winds usually colder than south winds? How does the direction of the wind affect the weather? Why? What is a calm? A breeze? A gale? Do winds ever cause damage? Give instances of damage that you have known winds to do. Discuss the destructive power of wind in blowing down buildings, trees, crops, fruit, etc.


On frosty winter mornings, what do you see coming from your mouth when you breathe? This "breath" is really a little cloud. When the tea-kettle is boiling, what do you sometimes see coming from the spout? This "steam" is a little cloud. The steam that you see escaping from a steam-boiler is also a cloud. The steam, or vapour, seen rising sometimes from a river or lake or low ground is a cloud too. The clouds away up in the air are like these smaller ones only they are very, very much larger.

Why cannot we see the sun today? Is the sun shining now? If an air-man in his flying machine went up, up, up, what kind of day would he find on the other side of the clouds? Why do you think so?

How high up are the clouds? Sometimes they come right down and rest upon the earth. What do we call such a cloud? We call it a fog or mist. Did you ever walk through a cloud to school?. When air-men in their flying machines go through a cloud, it must be much like riding along the road on a foggy morning in an automobile.

Clouds move across the sky and are of many shapes and colours. Why are the clouds sometimes so very, very beautiful at sunset? What kind of clouds indicates that a rain storm is approaching? What sometimes fall from these thick, black clouds? Rain and hail. In very cold weather what may fall from them?


The rain is falling today. Where does it fall from? What are some of the signs of an approaching rain? From what direction did to-day's rain-clouds come? Yesterday was a warm, dry day. What change of weather has been caused by today's rain? From what direction is the wind blowing? What is the effect of the wind upon the falling rain? Why is the ground more tiresome to walk upon than it was yesterday? What becomes of the rain that falls upon the ground? Why is there more water in the wells after a very heavy rainfall? Of what benefit is rain to the grass and to the growing crops? Why? If all the rain-water does not soak into the ground, what becomes of the surplus? Why is the water in streams and ditches so muddy-looking after a rainfall? Taste rain-water. How does its taste differ from that of well-water? Mix a little soap in rain-water and in well-water. What difference do you see? Which will make the better water for washing purposes? Why do we say rain-water is "soft" water?

What is a rainbow? What different colours do you see in it? Try to make a drawing of it with coloured crayons. What causes the rainbow? (The sun shining through falling rain) In what part of the sky is it seen in the evening? In the morning?

What little creatures crawl out of the ground when it rains ? Watch a robin hunting for earthworms.

Why is it dangerous to get one's clothes or feet wet? What should you do in such a case, in order to make sure that your health does not suffer?


What do you sometimes hear when rain-clouds are passing? Thunder. What do you sometimes see? Lightning. Which of these two things is the more dangerous? Why will the thunder not harm us? It is nothing but sound. What are the two kinds of lightning? Chain- and sheet-lightning. How can you tell one from the other? Which is the kind that sometimes causes damage? What damage have you seen done by lightning? The "sheet lightning" is quite harmless. How can you tell when the lightning is not near? When it is near? The closer together the lightning flash and the thunder peal are, the nearer and the more dangerous the lightning is. `Why is it not safe to stand under a tree during a thunder-storm? We would be much safer out in the open. Lightning-rods are sometimes put on a building to prevent the lightning striking it.


What is dew? Moisture on grass, etc. When does it " fall"? During the evening and night. Watch for dew on cloudy nights. Do you find any? On what kind of night, calm or windy, does dew form? When there is little or no wind. Upon what does dew form? Upon grass, stones, etc., not usually upon boards or dusty roads. When does the dew disappear? What causes it to disappear? The sun. Of what benefit is dew? If the temperature is below the freezing-point, what happens to dew? What name is given to frozen dew? It is some-times called hard, or " black ", frost. White, or hoar-frost, is not frozen dew. In what seasons do we find white frost? In spring and autumn and sometimes in early and late summer. What damage is a hard frost likely to cause in late spring? In early autumn?


What is ice? How would you prove that ice is frozen water? Try these experiments: (a) Fill a glass bottle with water, cork it, and leave it out-of-doors on a frosty night. (b) Partly fill a tin vessel with water and let it freeze solid. What do you learn from these experiments? That water expands when changed into ice. What damage have you seen done by water freezing into ice? Water-pipes broken, etc. How does ice add to your winter's enjoyment? What games are played on ice? Of what use is ice in summer time? Explain how ice is kept through the hot weather. How can you make ice colder than it is? By breaking it up and mixing salt with it, How is ice-cream made? What is a refrigerator?


This lesson will give an opportunity to review previous lessons on associated topics, such as Day and Night, etc. As the class will return to this subject in Senior Form III, all that is here required is to emphasize a few general notions not yet referred to. Proceed as follows :

What two benefits do we get from the sun? Heat and light. Is the weather equally hot all day? At what time of day is the sun hottest? At noon. Why? Because it is more nearly overhead at noon. When does it give us least heat? Place a screen between yourself and the hot stove. Why does the screen make you feel the heat less? Apply this to explain why cloudy days are not so hot as sunny days.

When is the shortest day of the year? A few days before Christmas. When is the longest day? About a week before the schools close for the summer holidays. How long does the sun shine then? How much daylight is there after four o'clock in summer? In winter?

Look at the sun through a smoked glass. What shape is it? How large is it? More than a million times as large as the earth. Why then does it look so small? Be-cause it is so far away. How far away is it? It is so far away that, if you were to start now on a journey to it on a fast express train that never stops, you would die of old age before you would get half-way there; but you would reach the moon in about six months.


The pupils of Forms I and II should be required to observe the moon from night to night under the teacher's guidance, beginning with the new moon. This guidance may take the form of simple questions or suggestions given from day to day at school. Since the class will return to this subject in the Senior Form III, it is obvious that only such general introductory observations as are of special interest should be attempted at this stage.

At the end of a month the pupils should be able to answer intelligently such questions as are found below.

What is the shape of the moon when first seen? It is crescent-shaped. How many horns has it? Make a drawing of it on the black-board. What name is given to it? " New moon." Why is it called a "new moon "? Because it may be considered a "baby moon ". In what part of the sky is it first seen? In the western sky. When is it first seen? Soon after sunset. What becomes of it? It, too, soon sets in the west. Watch it for a few nights. What change is taking place in its appearance? It is gradually getting larger. What change is taking place in its location? It is seen more to the east each night. What shape has it in about six days? It is like a half circle. Make a drawing of it. It is now said to be in its "first quarter ". How big does the moon become? It becomes a full circle. What do we call it then? A "full moon ". Make a drawing of it. How long a time is it since it was a new moon? Nearly two weeks. What do you see on the face of the full moon? Dark markings. Many people say that this is "the man in the moon ". Nobody lives on the moon so, of course, it cannot be a man. Where does the full moon rise? In the east. When? Just after the sun has gone down. In what direction does the moon move across the sky? From east to west just like the sun. Watch the moon for some days after it has become full. What change in appearance do you notice? It is getting smaller. It becomes like a half circle once more, and we say it is then in its "third quarter ". When does the third-quarter moon rise? Quite late at night. Does the moon rise at the same time each night? No, it is nearly an hour later each night. How long are we without any moon? About a week, and then another new moon is seen. How long a time is there between two full moons? Nearly a month. Of what use is the moon to us?

Find the "Big Dipper" stars and the North Star, when the sky is clear. Of what use is the North Star to us? When we see it we know that we are looking straight north. When you are looking at this star, where is south? East? West? The North Star is larger than the sun, but it is so very much farther away that it looks very much smaller.



Name the autumn months. Why is this season called the " fall" of the year? What change is gradually taking place in the autumn days as to their length? As to their temperature? Note the beautifully coloured leaves and how they brighten up the whole countryside. Why do leaves fall? The tree has no further use for them. What trees keep their leaves during winter? What preparation do the animals of the neighbourhood make in the autumn for their winter home? For their winter's food? What change takes place in their fur coats? Why do many birds fly away to the south in the autumn? When do they return? Describe the autumn work of the farmer in the harvesting of his corn, potato, fruit, and root-crops; in preparing food and shelter for his live stock for the coming winter; and in preparing his fields for the next year's crops. What preparation must boys and girls make?

What is a fall fair? A school fair? Tell what you see at these fairs.



Look out over the countryside. What is its surface like? It is uneven or rolling. Point out the high places. What are these high places called? They are hills. What is the road between here and your home like? Why is it an up-and-down road? When is a road said to be level? Over what hills did you pass on your way to school? What do we call the sloping side of a hill? It is called its slope. What is meant by "up grade" and "down grade"? Over what part of the road do you find the walking easiest? Walking is easiest when the road is down grade. Why? Where do the horses find it hardest to haul a load? Why? What is the highest part of the hill called? It is the top, or summit. What is the land at the bottom of the hill called? It is its foot, or base. Draw a hill on the black-board. Mark its top, its slope, and its base. How is a hill road sometimes built in order to make it more easy to travel over? The earth is taken from the road at the top of the hill and is used for grading up at the bottom. How does this improve the road? It will not be so steep. Where is there a hill in the neighbourhood cut down in this way? On your sand-table make a hill and show how such a road may be made.

During a heavy rainfall or when snow melts on a hill-side, which way does the water flow? Why do rivers or brooks flow along between hills? Why is it pleasant to live upon the top of a hill in summer ? It is cooler. Why? What difference would there be in winter? Why? Which is warmer, the south slope of a hill or the north slope? Why? Which is easier to work, a hilly farm or a farm on level ground? Why?


(NOTE.—A ditch with running water is a river in miniature, and the class, by an observational study of it, may get much knowledge of rivers and their work.)

Which is better, a wet or a dry road? Why is the dry road better? What can road-makers do to make the road dry up quickly after a heavy rainfall? Are ditches usually made on one side only or on both sides of the road? Why on both sides? When a heavy rain falls upon a dusty road what becomes of the dust? What proof have you that some of it was carried into the ditch? Look carefully. Take a glass of mud-coloured water from the ditch and let it stand for a day or so. What is found in the bottom of the glass? Where did this mud come from? What does the ditch do with the mud that makes the water so dirty, when there is no current? When there is a current? How can you tell that there is a current? Throw some light bits of wood upon the water. In what direction does the water flow? Why does it flow in that direction? Running water shows which way the land slopes. Does the water flow uniformly at the same rate? Why not? Look for rapids and waterfalls. Is the bank wearing away in places? What is doing this? What becomes of the water that is flowing down the ditch? As soon as a ditch dries up, look for the mud that was in the water. Where do you find it? Will this mud fill up the ditch in time? Why do you think so? What repair will the ditch need then? Will the road need repair too? Why?

At the close of these observations, which will require considerable time, require the pupils, using the sand-table for illustration when possible, to tell orally the story of a ditch—how it was made, how it drains the road of both water and mud, how this improves the road for a time, how the ditch gradually fills up, and how both road and ditch will in time need repair, the road by being graded up, and the ditch by being cleaned out.



Of what is bread made? How is flour made into dough? What is put into the dough to make it "rise"? Tell how it is made into loaves and cooked.

Of what is flour made? Where is wheat made into flour? What else besides flour is obtained from the wheat? Take your knife and pick off the thin, skin-like coat of a grain of wheat. It is this outer part that be-comes the bran. Of what use is bran?. What part of the grain becomes the white flour? How is wheat made into flour at the mill? By crushing it between iron rollers.

From whom does the miller buy wheat? Where does the farmer obtain it? Name two kinds of wheat. Why is one kind called "spring" wheat and the other kind " fall" wheat? What kind is grown at your home? Tell how the farmer prepares the field before sowing the seed wheat. Tell how he sows the wheat. When is the wheat ready to be harvested? Tell briefly how he harvests and thrashes the wheat.

Review: Tell a "story" about each of the following : (a) How the farmer grows wheat, (b) how the miller makes flour, and (c) how the baker makes bread.


Workers on the farm are called farmers. The land that the farmer owns or works is his farm, and it is separated from adjoining farms by line fences. What are line fences? Farms are usually divided into fields of various sizes. What crops are grown in these fields? What is meant by a "grain crop"? A "hoe crop"? What grows in a meadow? For what is a pasture field used? Of what use is the bush? The products of the farm are grain, hay, roots, potatoes, fruit, live stock, butter, eggs, etc. To whom does the farmer sell these things?

In each of the following cases, which farm is likely to be worth more money :

(a) One near a market-town or one far away? Why?

(b) One near a railway station or one far away? Why?

(c) One near a school or one far away? Why?

(d) One infested with weeds or one that is clean? Why?

(e) One with good roads near by or one with bad roads? Why?


Locate the nearest store. The man who keeps the store is called a store-keeper or merchant, and his helper a clerk. Name different kinds of stores. What is a grocery store? A dry goods store? A drug store? A hardware store? A book store? A flour and feed store? A "general" store is one that sells nearly everything that is needed, such as groceries, dry goods, boots and shoes, etc. Why are most country and village stores usually general stores? Why do your parents buy groceries, dry goods, hardware, etc.? These things are not produced at home. What things do farmers sell or exchange at the store? Why do they do this? More of these things are produced at home than are needed. What is meant by buying "for cash "? By buying "on credit "? By taking goods "in trade"?


From what is cheese made? What is the place called in which cheese is made? From whom is the milk obtained? How is it carried from the farm to the factory? Why is it weighed at the factory? What two things 'are made from the milk? Whey and curd. What is done with the whey? It is fed to the pigs. What is done with the curd? It is pressed in moulds until it becomes cheese. How old should the cheese be before it is good to eat? It should be at least six weeks or two months old, but if it is older than this it will make still better food.


What is the name of the nearest railway? Through what near-by places does it run? The place where trains stop to take passengers or freight on or off is called the station. What is meant by freight? Name different kinds of freight. What is the name of the nearest station? What is a railway train? Describe a passenger coach, a freight car, the engine, and the use of each. What are the duties of the engineer, the fireman, the brakesman, the conductor? The man who has charge of the station is called the station agent. He sends messages to other stations by telegraph or by telephone. What is the meaning of the "ticking" heard in a telegraph office?

A railway operated by electricity is called a trolley line, and the cars, electric or trolley cars. In cities and towns they are usually called street-cars. What is the use of the overhead wire? The trolley pole? The man who runs the car is called the motorman.

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