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Handbook of Nature Study

by Anna B. Comstock

An essential guide for the nature study teacher whose aim is to cultivate in children powers of accurate observation. A massive tome, weighing over three pounds in the hardback edition, The Handbook of Nature Study in this ebook edition is divided into thirteen sections to make topics easier to access on electronic devices. The introduction to the book sets the stage by elaborating on the purposes of nature study and how best to conduct the lessons so the children make the discoveries themselves. This opening chapter is well worth re-reading periodically to fix its principles in your mind. Each of the following twelve sections opens with an introduction to the study at hand, followed by a series of lessons. Many of the lessons have a story, meant to supply background material for the teacher rather than to be read to the students. Similarly, the “leading thought” in each lesson embodies some of the points which should be in the teacher's mind while giving the lesson but should not be read or shared with the pupils. Instead the teacher should make the lesson an investigation and make the pupils feel that they are investigators. A series of suggestions for observations, framed as questions, concludes each lesson. Use these questions as a springboard for investigations. With sections on birds, fish, frogs and toads, reptiles, mammals, insects, invertebrates, wildflowers, cultivated plants, flowerless plants, trees, and earth and sky, there is ample material for years of nature study.

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Titles Included

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Handbook of Nature Study: Introduction by Anna B. Comstock

This first section of the Handbook of Nature Study  explains what nature study is, what its benefits are, how to conduct the lessons, and how nature study is related to other subjects in the curriculum.  For Adults
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Handbook of Nature Study: Birds by Anna B. Comstock

The second section of Handbook of Nature Study introduces bird study by examining the features of a bird familiar to most children, the hen. The lessons encourage the reader to think how the body, wings, eyes, beak, feet, legs, and feathers of each bird are suited to protect it and to assist it in getting its living. Subsequent chapters feature familiar birds of field, forest, and stream, with questions that stimulate careful observation.  For Adults
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Handbook of Nature Study: Fish by Anna B. Comstock

A close study of the goldfish introduces the reader of the third section of Handbook of Nature Study to the parts of the fish, and its manner of locomotion, feeding, and breathing. The remaining chapters describe the appearance and habits of the fish a child is likely to encounter as he fishes in local streams or ponds: the bullhead, the common sucker, the shiner, the brook trout, the sunfish, the stickleback, and the johnny darter.  For Adults
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Handbook of Nature Study: Frogs and Toads by Anna B. Comstock

In section four of Handbook of Nature Study the life histories of frogs and toads are presented, along with the ways they are similar, and the points on which they differ. Much emphasis is placed on the life cycle from egg to tadpole to adult, and the reader is encouraged to set up a tadpole aquarium, following the instructions provided, so he can observe the development firsthand. A final chapter describes the salamander and his habits.  For Adults
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Handbook of Nature Study: Reptiles by Anna B. Comstock

Snakes and turtles form the subject of the fifth section of Handbook of Nature Study. After discussing the general habits of snakes and dispelling widely-held misconceptions, three common nonpoisonous snakes are examined in detail: the garter snake, the milk snake, and the water snake. A short discussion of turtles follows, along with recommendations on caring for turtles in aquariums and brief descriptions of seven common species.  For Adults
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Handbook of Nature Study: Mammals by Anna B. Comstock

Beginning with the small wild animals that children encounter around their homes, section six of Handbook of Nature Study describes the characteristics and habits of rabbits, mice, woodchucks, squirrels, raccoons, and chipmunks, among others. Then the narrative proceeds to domesticated animals, starting with the dog and cat, and continuing with the goat, sheep, horse, cow, and pig. Every chapter includes suggestions that guide observations.  For Adults
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Handbook of Nature Study: Insects by Anna B. Comstock

The seventh section of Handbook of Nature Study introduces a wide assortment of familiar insects including butterflies, moths, bees, and grasshoppers. The initial chapters orient the reader to insect development and basic insect anatomy, while subsequent chapters feature individual species. Instructions are provided for making insect aquariums and ant nests that afford opportunities for close observation.  For Adults
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Handbook of Nature Study: Invertebrates by Anna B. Comstock

A variety of the other invertebrates that children are likely to come in contact with are examined in section eight of Handbook of Nature Study. First come two that are intimately associated with the land: the garden snail and the earthworm. Next the crayfish, an inhabitant of still water in brooks and ponds, is considered. Lastly, creatures of the air, daddy long-legs and spiders, are treated in greater depth. The reader learns both how spiders care for their eggs and how they spin their webs. Three different webs are described in detail: funnel webs, orb webs, and filmy domes.  For Adults
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Handbook of Nature Study: Wildflowers by Anna B. Comstock

After an introduction to plant study, section nine of Handbook of Nature Study profiles the woodland wildflowers that bloom in early spring, including hepatica, trillium, bloodroot, jack-in-the-pulpit, and violets. Next the summer flowers of open fields are presented, with special lessons for study of a composite flower and the study of a weed. The close examination of familiar flowers, such as goldenrod, milkweed, daisies, asters, and dandelions, deepens the reader's understanding of his local flora.  For Adults
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Handbook of Nature Study: Cultivated Plants by Anna B. Comstock

The tenth section of Handbook of Nature Study opens with the flowers of spring, first those that grow from corms and bulbs, and then the others. Continuing on through the year, it describes the flowers in the order of blooming. The section concludes with a discussion of clovers and cotton as important field crops, and strawberries, corn, and pumpkins as food crops of particular interest to children.  For Adults
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Handbook of Nature Study: Flowerless Plants by Anna B. Comstock

The study of flowerless plants in the eleventh section of Handbook of Nature Study leads off with two species of ferns, followed by lessons on how the fern bud unfolds and the fruiting of the fern. Cursory treatment is given to horsetails and moss before mushrooms and other fungi are presented in greater depth. The reader learns about puffballs, bracket fungi, morels, and stinkhorns, with special focus on the conditions under which they thrive and the manner in which they propagate.  For Adults
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Handbook of Nature Study: Trees by Anna B. Comstock

The twelfth section of Handbook of Nature Study provides a thorough survey of the nature of trees, beginning with a general introduction to trees, outlining the parts of their structure and describing the ways that they grow. Readers learn how to make leaf prints and how to engage in tree study during all three seasons of the school year: autumn, winter, and spring. In the subsequent chapters, seventeen different trees or tree families are introduced with special focus on the apple tree.  For Adults
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Handbook of Nature Study: Earth and Sky by Anna B. Comstock

In the thirteenth section of Handbook of Nature Study the reader is introduced to the rocks and minerals that are common on the surface and the role that water plays in changing the landscape. An examination of the components of the soil follows, along with experiments that help the reader understand the characteristics of the different types of soil. Next comes a substantial segment on weather. Moving to the heavens, a guide to the constellations of summer and winter is presented, together with lessons on the sun and the moon.  For Adults

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