The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Notes of Lessons.

Volume 14, 1903, pgs. 57-62

[We have thought that it might be of use to our readers (in their own families) to publish from month to month during the current year, Notes of Lessons prepared by students of the House of Education for the pupils of the Practising School. We should like to say, however, that such a Lesson is never given as a tour de force, but is always an illustration or an expansion of some part of the children's regular studies (in the Parents' Review School), some passage in one or other of their school books.--ED.]

I. Subject: Astronomy.

Group; Science. Class IV. Age: 16 1/2 Time: 30 minutes.

By Agnes C. Drury.


I. To interest the pupils in studying the heavens for themselves.

II. To show where the planets may be looked for and how they may be recognized.

III. To help the pupils to apply their theoretical knowledge of the planets to explain the movements they can observe with the naked eye.

IV. To exercise the reasoning powers.


Step I.--Get the pupils to describe the changes to be seen in the sky at night, and, excluding the apparent motion caused by the earth's rotation, find out whether they have noticed and contrasted the constellations of fixed stars and the planets (wanderers).

Let the pupils tell which of the planets are visible to the naked eye, and ask whether they have noticed when and where are to be seen, at the present date, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, which are in Capricornus, Sagittarius and Leo, respectively.

Step II.--Draw from the pupils, if possible, the marks by which planets can be distinguished from stars;--
(a) Their steady light.
(b) Size (in the case of Venus and Jupiter).
(c) Colour (in the case of Mars).
(d) Position (relatively to known constellations).
(e) Motion (noticeable after successive observations).

Step III.--To enlarge on Point (d), let the pupils name the planets whose orbits are within that of the earth and those whose orbits are outside ours. By the help of a diagram of the solar system, get them to infer, from the nearness to the sun of Venus and Mercury, that these planets are never visible at midnight, but only just before sunrise and after sunset.

Step IV.--To appreciate Points (d) and (e), get the pupils to recognize the advantage of knowing the constellations by sight. Show Philip's Planisphere, and refer to the Zodiac, showing that, besides being the sun's apparent path, this is the region in which to seek the planets.

Let the pupils find the portion of the heavens visible at 6 p.m. to-day, and indicate, both in the heavens and with respect to our landscape, the positions of Jupiter and Saturn. Also show how Mars may be looked for in the south, too, about 6 o┬╣clock in the morning.

Step V.--To enlarge on Point (e), show a diagram of the path of Venus among the constellations in 1868 (Lockyer's Elementary Lessons in Astronomy, p. 183), and get the pupils to notice how large a distance she travelled in one month, in order to induce them to make personal observations. Prepare them to see the planets sometimes move backwards and sometimes remain stationary. Explain this by letting one of the girls move round the table while the other watches how, with respect to her background, she appears to move first from left to right, then to remain stationary, then to move from right to left, and again to remain stationary. The moving girl, observing the other with respect to her background, notices the same phenomena.

Then show the diagram in Lockyer, which illustrates these facts, p. 178, and also another in Reid's Elements of Astronomy, p. 137, which shows the apparent motion of one planet viewed from another in motion.

II. Subject: Some Historical Associations of the District. Group: History. Class III. Age: 13 and 14. Time: 20-30 minutes.

By Ida E. Fischer.


I. To give the children a picture of this district as it was about the beginning of the Christian era.

II. To give the children a new interest in their walks and expeditions, by showing them that history was made in this part of the country as much as in any other.

III. To show that there are reasons why roads are laid down in certain directions.

IV. To strengthen the imagination of the pupils.


Step I.--We set off together in spirit for Wansfell Terrace, where we examine the road and find that it is made very firmly of large stones, and although it is grass-covered it is pretty level and dry. It is not a high road, so how can this be? The reason is that it is a Roman road, and therefore we must find out why we have a Roman road here.

The children know the Latin word for a camp, and from that we find out that there must have been an important camp on the site of the modern town of Lancaster (the camp on the Lune).

Step I.--Tell how Julius Agricola, Governor of Britain, came to Lancaster in 78 A.D. and built a road from it to Kendal. Describe, drawing as much as possible from the children, the appearance of the country in those days; how it was covered with forests and bogs. Would it be easy to build roads through such a country? No. Therefore the easiest way to get north was to follow the coast line, and so a road was built from the other side of Morecambe Bay, past Ravensglass and on to Carlisle, where another camp was built. The other reason for following the coast line was that communication might be kept up with the fleet.

Step III.--But the Romans were not satisfied with going round the coast and tried to get north by a shorter route. Accordingly they found their way to the banks of Windermere, reaching it below where the town of Windermere now lies. They again take the easiest way north, and follow the shore of the lake to level ground at its head, where they build a camp called Dictis. Before they arrived at Dictis, though, they came to the Troutbeck Valley, and began to explore it. Now they begin to climb and build a road up the side of the mountain on the opposite side of the valley. They go over Ill Bell and Froswick, and make their main road north along the summit of High Street. This road is continued to Brougham, where there was an important camp.

Step IV.--Now we return to Dictis, and we see its advantages of position, etc. it was built of Dalton stone chiefly brought up the Lake by boat. By noticing the directions of valleys which radiate from the head of Windermere, the children can tell the direction of the six roads leading from Dictis.

1. The Windermere Road, already mentioned. 2. Wansfell Terrace, which is merely a short cut from Dictis to the High Street Road. 3. The Kirkstone Road, which led over to the west side of Ullswater. 4. The Keswick Road, leading by Rydal, Grasmere and Thirlmere, to a camp at Keswick. 5. The Ravensglass Road went through the Brathay Valley, and over the Wrynose and Harthnott Passes. 6. The last road ran between Coniston and Esthwaite to Dalton-in-Furness.

While the lesson is going on have a sketch map put on the board, and use maps of the district.

Step V.--Recapitulate.

III. Subject: From Plutarch's "Greek Lives."

Alexander the Great. (An Introductory Lesson.)

Group: History. Class II. Age: 8 and 9. Time: 30 minutes.

By E. A. Parish.


I. To establish relations with the past.

II. To introduce the boys to a fresh hero.

III. To stir them to admiration of the wisdom, valour and self-reliance of Alexander the Great.

IV. To increase the boys' power of narration.


Step I.--Begin by connecting Alexander the Great with the time of Demosthenes, of whom the boys have been learning recently.

Step II.--Draw from them some account of the times in which Alexander lived and of Philip of Macedonia.

Step III.--Arouse the boys' interest in Alexander by the story of the taming of Bucephalus, which must be read, discussed, and then narrated by the boys.

Step IV.--Ask the boys what they mean by a hero. The old meaning was demi-god, the Anglo-Saxon meaning, a man. Both really meant a man who was brave and true in every circumstance.

Ask them, "What are the qualities which go to make a hero?" Draw from them how far we can trace these qualities in Alexander. We notice:--

Wisdom.--"What a horse are they losing for want of skill to manage him!"

Perseverance.--He kept repeating the same expression.

Self-reliance.--"And I certainly could." This was justified by the fact that he could.

Observation.--He noticed that the horse was afraid of its shadow.

Courage.--Seeing his opportunity, he leaped upon its back.

Prudence.--He went very gently till he could feel that he had perfect control of the animal.

These are not all the qualities one looks for in a hero, but as the boys will be learning all about Alexander next term, they will be able to find out for themselves what others he had. They will see, for instance, how he never imagined a defeat, but went on conquering as he went. (Hope.)

The name of Alexander has never been forgotten, because he was such a hero. Owing to him, the language and civilization of Greece were carried over a great part of Asia.

Show map illustrating his campaigns. He tried to improve the land wherever he went. Owing to his travels, people began to know more than they had ever known of geography and natural history.

Himself a hero, Alexander reverenced heroes, keeping "the casket copy" of The Iliad.

Step V.--Recapitulate Step IV. by means of questions.

IV. Subject: English History. Westminster Abbey. Group: History. Class 1b. Age: 9. Time: 20 minutes.

By E. May Garnier.


I. To make history and literature more real to J. by interesting her in the great men who have been buried in the Abbey.

II. To enable J. to take an intelligent interest in the Abbey, so that she may better appreciate it, should she ever go there again.

III. To link Chaucer and Tennyson together in their love for flowers (mention especially the daisy), thus connecting history, literature and nature-lore together.


Step I.--Show J. pictures of Westminster Abbey, and ask a few questions to see if she knows where it is and who built it; also find out from her the two public functions that are held in the Abbey, viz., the Coronation of the Monarch and funerals of great men.

Step II.--Show J. the plan of Westminster Abbey, and get from her what tombs she has already learnt about, i.e., Lord Shaftesbury's and General Gordon's.

Step III.--Tell her that to-day we are going to talk about the tombs in one special part of the Abbey. Show her the place in the plan, refer her to the same position in Ambleside Church. Ask her if she knows what it is called, and why it is called the Poets' Corner.

Step IV.--Find out if she knows--having been twice to the Abbey--the names of any of the poets buried there. Tell her that to-day we are going to think about the tombs of the first and last poets that have been buried there, viz., Chaucer and Lord Tennyson.

Step V.--See if she knows anything about Chaucer, and then tell her shortly about him, mentioning his love for flowers. Read to her his description of the daisy, and suggest she should think of it as the "day's eye" when next she sees one.

Step VI.--Ask her what she knows about Tennyson. Show her his picture, and relate how when he was a little boy he lived in the country and was very fond of flowers and animals; how he came to write his first poem at the suggestion of his elder brother. Tell her a little about his poems, especially mentioning Idylls of the King and The Revenge. Show how when he was grown up he kept his love for flowers, and loved the country better than the town, like all poets. Tell her he was very short-sighted and had to look very closely at flowers. Ask her what flower Chaucer was fond of. Tell her that Tennyson wrote a poem about "The Daisy," and he said once that when you tread on daisies, they turn up under foot and get rosy.

Step VII.--Recapitulation. Ask J. what part of the Abbey we have been talking about; what men, getting her to say shortly what she knows about them.

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