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 15, 1904, pg. 387-390

[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), of some passage in one or other of their school books.--ED.]


Subject: Winter Sleep and Spring Awakening.
Group: Science. Classes Ia and Ib. Age: 6-8. Time: 20 minutes.

I. To increase the children's interest in tree life and plant life.
II. To show them what a beautiful provision is made for the trees in the winter.
III. To show them how much we depend on the sun as the agent by which vegetation is revived in the spring.

Step I.--Ask the children what they have noticed about the trees in their walks or in their own gardens (leafless, but with little buds), and how long the buds they see have been there.
Step II.--Tell them that winter is like night to the tree, that the tree takes its rest during winter, before going to rest it makes preparation for the morning (Spring). What does it do? It puts out buds, wrapped up in a thick covering which will burst and let them out when the right time comes.
Step III.--Show them specimens of the buds on different trees--chestnut, oak, ash, sycamore, beech, hazel, willow. Let them notice which show signs of awakening and which are still asleep.
Step IV.--Ask them why the tree needs such a long sleep. It has been working all through the spring and summer into the autumn, day and night; it does not sleep at night as we do. (How do we know this? We find buds have opened out during the night). After such a long day it needs a long night.
Step V.--Speak of the awakening of plants. Let the children say what flowers they have seen out. Snowdrops, crocuses, primroses, violets? Tell them the difference between these and trees. The flower and leaves die, the root only lives. The future plant sleeps in the root. Show them bulbs and springing flowers, and let them find out that "spring" is so named because of the springing up of life everywhere. Describe how the bulbs are taken care of through the winter, and when they begin to peep above the ground, the snow comes down to cover them and keep them warm.
Step VI.--Ask them the cause of this awakening. What is the power that calls them to life? The sun. He brings light and heat, and the buds respond to his genial influence. Compare the winter sun with the brighter summer sun. He rises earlier, stays a longer time, is brighter and hotter than in winter. We begin to feel the difference ourselves now; the plants and flowers feel it still more. They are very sensitive to light and heat.


Subject: Ruskin.
Group: English. Class IV. Time: 35 minutes.

I. To arouse the girls' interest in, and admiration for, Ruskin.
II. To make him live before them as a man, and not merely as a writer of books.
III. To reveal to them the ideals towards which Ruskin strove, and to show them to some extent how far these ideals were realised.
IV. To increase the girls' love of good literature.
V. To connect the lesson with the history they are doing.


Step I. Ruskin's parents.--Father, a wine merchant--very cultured, spent spare time in drawing, and studying art and literature; mother, a woman of high principles: both Scotch. John, their only child, born in London, 1819. Ask who else was born in this year. Queen Victoria: reign of George III.
Step II. Ruskin's childhood.--When John was very young, family moved to Herne Hill, in Dulwich: show place on map, also picture of Ruskin, aged three, and picture of Herne Hill. Describe situation of house and read Ruskin's own words out of Fors Clavigera about the garden. His books were Pope's translation of Homer, novels of Sir Walter Scott, Robinson Crusoe and Pilgrim's Progress. At the age of five he was a voracious reader, sending to the circulating library for his favourite books. Read from "Fors" his description of this Bible readings with his mother and their influence on him. Show his love of nature by reading what he says of his first impressions of Friar's Crag, showing photograph of Friar's Crag. Mention that a friend gave him a copy of Roger's Italy, illustrated by Turner, of which he was very fond. His father was his instructor in art; "I was never allowed to look at a bad picture." Read a poem written by him at the age of nine.
Step III.--Ask the girls if, from what has been said, they can trace the three great influences of his childhood, which helped so much to form his character: Literature, nature, art.
Step IV. Youth.--Ruskin went to Christ Church, Oxford, at seventeen. Travelled a great deal in England, and also in Switzerland, Italy and Germany.
Step V. Ruskin was a great admirer of Turner's art. Refer to his love of it in his childhood; show three famous pictures of Turner, and read extract about him from Helen Mather's Life of Ruskin.
Step VI. Ruskin's first literary period, 1843-1860.--Show three pictures of Ruskin at this period: aged 23, 38, 45. Ask the girls to connect the History of England with this period of Ruskin's life. Chief statesmen: Peel, Gladstone. Events: Repeal of Corn Laws, Great Exhibition, Chartist rising, Crimean war, Indian Mutiny.
Modern Painters.--Explain how it was begun as a defense of Turner's art, and gradually developed to a long and exhaustive treaty on art. Mention that the five volumes took Ruskin twenty years to write. Read two extracts from volume I. and ask the girls to say what they think his object in writing it must have been.
Seven Lamps of Architecture.--As time is limited merely mention this. Write all names of books on the board.
Step VII. Second literary period, 1860-1900.--Wrote chiefly on social reform and political economy. Explain that from architecture to social questions is not so great a step as one would think, as Ruskin holds that architecture expresses a people's passions and character, and therefore from studying the expression of a nation he turned to studying its life and true self.
Fors Clavigera, a series of letters written for working men, but well worth reading by men in every sphere of life. As the girls have been reading Sesame and Lilies and Ethics of the Dust, they will be able to mention these themselves.
Step VIII. Ruskin's Ideals.--Read three quotations from Ruskin, and ask the girls to say from them, and also from everything that has been said of Ruskin, what they think his ideals must have been. To help his fellow men to see and appreciate beauty in every form. To raise his fellow men from the drudgery of life and to inspire them with the knowledge that they have minds and souls. To go to the root of everything and proclaim the truth.
Step IX. Result of Work.--He has done more than anybody to bring art within the reach of everybody. He has enlarged people's ideas on the subject of art. He has raised the ideals of working men.
Step X. Latter days.--Life at Brantwood. Show picture of house and read from [W. G.] Collingwood's Life and Work of John Ruskin.
Step XI. Character.--Show pictures of him in his later days. "That spare stooping figure, the rough hewn kindly face with the mobile sensitive mouth, and the clear deep eyes, so sweet and honest in purpose, so keen and earnest and eloquent in debate." Ask the girls to tell me what they think his character must have been.
Step XII.--Died 1900. Buried at Coniston. Show picture of gravestone and explain the sculptures.
Step XIII.--Recapitulation.

Typed by LovieWie, August, 2023; Proofread by LNL, August, 2023