Ontario Teachers' Manuals: Literature
by Ontario Ministry of Education
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REPRINTED, 1916, 1917.




Introduction What is Literature? 5 The Qualities that Appeal to Children at Different Ages 7 In Junior Forms 7 In Senior Forms (Books III and IV) 10 Complete Wholes versus Extracts 11 Correlation of Literature with Nature Study, Geography, History, and Art 12 Aims in Teaching Literature 14 General Principles Applicable in the Teaching of Literature 16


Methods In Junior Forms 19 Memorization 20 In Senior Forms 22 Teacher's Preparation 22 Preparation of Pupils 23 Presentation 26 Value of Oral Reading in the Interpretation and Appreciation of Literature 27 Development of the Main Thought 29 Minute Analysis 31 Allusions 32 Imagery 33 Literature of Noble Thought 35 Recapitulation 36 Mistakes in Teaching Literature 37 Extensive Reading 39


Illustrative Lessons Pantomime Little Miss Muffet 42 Dramatization Little Boy Blue 43 The Story of Henny Penny 44 Wishes 46 Indian Lullaby 47


Illustrative Lessons The Wind and the Leaves 50 Piping Down the Valleys Wild 52 The Baby Swallow 54 The Brook 56


Illustrative Lessons My Shadow 59 One, Two, Three 62 Dandelions 64 The Blind Men and the Elephant 67 The Lord is my Shepherd 71


Illustrative Lessons Hide and Seek 74 An Apple Orchard in the Spring 76 Little Daffydowndilly 78 Moonlight Sonata 83 Lead, Kindly Light 87 Lead, Kindly Light 89


Illustrative Lessons Judah's Supplication to Joseph 93 Mercy 98 Morning on the Lievre 101 Dickens in the Camp 105 Dost Thou Look Back on What Hath Been 112 Waterloo 117 Three Scenes in the Tyrol 122


Supplementary Reading South-West Wind, Esq. 131 A Christmas Carol 135 The Lady of the Lake 139


Selections for Memorization 145






B. SUPPLEMENTARY READING AND MEMORIZATION: Selection may be made from the following:

I. To be Read to Pupils:

1. NURSERY RHYMES: Sing a Song of Sixpence; I Saw a Ship a-Sailing; Who Killed Cock Robin; Simple Simon; Mary's Lamb, etc.

Consult Verse and Prose for Beginners in Reading; Riverside Literature Series, No. 59, 15 cents.

2. FAIRY STORIES: Briar Rose, Snow-white and Rose-red—Grimm; The Ugly Duckling—Andersen; Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood—Perrault; Beauty and the Beast—Madame de Villeneuve; The Wonderful Lamp—Arabian Nights' Entertainments.

Consult Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know, by H. W. Mabie. Grosset & Dunlap, 50c.

3. FOLK STORIES: Whittington and His Cat; The Three Bears.

4. FABLES: Selections from AEsop and La Fontaine.

Consult Fables and Folk Stories, by Scudder, Parts I and II; Riverside Literature Series, Nos. 47, 48, 15 cents each.

II. To be Read by Pupils:

Fables and Folk Stories—Scudder; A Child's Garden of Verses (First Part)—Stevenson; Readers of a similar grade.

III. To be Memorized by Pupils:

1. MEMORY GEMS: Specimens of these may be found in the Public School Manuals on Primary Reading and Literature.

2. FROM THE READERS: Morning Hymn; Evening Prayer; The Swing; What I Should Do; Alice.



B. SUPPLEMENTARY READING AND MEMORIZATION: Selection may be made from the following:

I. To be Read to Pupils:

1. NARRATIVE POEMS: John Gilpin—Cowper; Lucy Gray—Wordsworth; Wreck of the Hesperus—Longfellow; Pied Piper of Hamelin—Browning; May Queen—Tennyson; etc.

Consult The Children's Garland, Patmore. The Macmillan Co., 35 cents.

2. NATURE STORIES: Wild Animals I Have Known, Lives of the Hunted—Thompson-Seton; The Watchers of the Trails—Roberts.

3. FAIRY STORIES: Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know—H. W. Mabie.

4. OTHER STORIES: Selections from the Wonder Book—Hawthorne; Jungle Book—Kipling; Gulliver's Travels—Swift; Alice in Wonderland—Carroll; Robinson Crusoe—Defoe; The Hall of Heroes—Royal Treasury of Story and Song, Part III, Nelson & Sons.

II. To be Read by Pupils:

A Child's Garden of Verses—Stevenson; The Seven Little Sisters—Jane Andrews; Fifty Famous Stories Retold—Baldwin.

III. To be memorized by Pupils: (A minimum of six lines a week)


A Wake-up Song; Love; The Land of Nod; One, Two, Three; March; Abide with Me; The New Moon; The Song for Little May; The Lord is my Shepherd; Lullaby—Tennyson; Indian Summer; proverbs, maxims, and short extracts found at the bottom of the page in the Readers.



B. SUPPLEMENTARY READING AND MEMORIZATION: Selection may be made from the following:

The King of the Golden River—Ruskin; Tanglewood Tales—Hawthorne; The Heroes—Kingsley; Adventures of Ulysses—Lamb; Squirrels and Other Fur-bearers—Burroughs; Ten Little Boys who Lived on the Road from Long Ago till Now—Jane Andrews; Hiawatha—Longfellow; Rip Van Winkle—Irving; Water Babies—Kingsley.

To be Memorized by Pupils: (A minimum of ten lines a week)


To-day—Carlyle; The Quest—Bumstead; Hearts of Oak—Garrick; A Farewell—Kingsley; An Apple Orchard in the Spring—Martin; The Charge of the Light Brigade—Tennyson; Lead, Kindly Light—Newman; The Bugle Song—Tennyson; Crossing the Bar—Tennyson; The Fighting Temeraire—Newbolt; Afterglow—Wilfred Campbell; proverbs, maxims, and short extracts.



B. SUPPLEMENTARY READING AND MEMORIZATION: Selections may be made from the list prepared annually by the Department of Education.




It is the purpose of this Manual to present the general principles on which the teaching of literature is based. It will distinguish between the intensive and the extensive study of literature; it will consider what material is suitable for children at different ages; it will discuss the reasons for various steps in lesson procedure; and it will illustrate methods by giving, for use in different Forms, lesson plans in literature that is diverse in its qualities. This Manual is not intended to provide a short and easy way of teaching literature nor to save the teacher from expending thought and labour on his work. The authors do not propose to cover all possible cases and leave nothing for the teacher's ingenuity and originality.


Good literature portrays and interprets human life, its activities, its ideas and emotions, and those things about which human interest and emotion cluster. It gives breadth of view, supplies high ideals of conduct, cultivates the imagination, trains the taste, and develops an appreciation of beauty of form, fitness of phrase, and music of language. The term Literature as used in this Manual is applied especially to those selections in the Ontario Readers which possess in some degree these characteristics. Such selections are unlike the lessons in the text-books in grammar, geography, arithmetic, etc. In these the aim is to determine the facts and the conclusions to which they lead. Even in the Readers, there are some lessons of which this is partly true. For instance, the lesson on Clouds, Rains, and Rivers, by Tyndall, is such as might be found in a text-book in geography or science. Here the information alone is viewed as valuable, and the pupil will probably supplement what he has learned from the book by the study of material objects and natural phenomena. When this lesson is to be studied, the pupil should be taught not only to understand thoroughly what the author is expressing by his language, but also to appreciate the clearness and force with which he has given his message to the world. The pupil should be called upon to examine the author's illustrations, his choice of words, and his paragraph and sentence structure.

Each literature lesson in the Reader has some particular force, or charm of thought and expression. There is found in these lessons, not only beauty of thought and feeling, but artistic form as well. In the highest forms of literature, the emotional element predominates, and it should be one to which all mankind, to a greater or less degree, are subject. It is the predominance of these emotional and artistic elements which makes literature a difficult subject to teach. The element of feeling is elusive and can best be taught by the influence of contagion. There is usually less difficulty about the intellectual element, that is, about the meaning of words and phrases, the general thought of the lesson, and the relation of the thoughts to one another and to the whole.


This is a psychological problem which can be solved only by a study of the interests and capacities of the children. These interests vary so greatly and make their appearance at such diverse periods in different individuals and in the two sexes, that it is a difficult matter to say with any definiteness just what qualities of literature appeal to children at any particular age. Moreover, the children's environment and previous experiences have a great deal to do in determining these interests and capacities. There are, however, certain characteristics of different periods of childhood which are fairly universal, and which may, therefore, be taken as guiding, determining factors in the selection of suitable literature.


1. One of the most striking characteristics of young children is the activity of their imagination. They endow their toys with life and personality; they construct the most fantastic and impossible tales; they accept without question the existence of supernatural beings. The problem for the teacher is to direct this activity of imagination into proper fields, and to present material which will give the child a large store of beautiful images—images that are not only delightful to dwell upon, but are also elevating and refining in their influence upon character. The fairy tale, the folk tale, and the fable, owe their popularity with young children to the predominance of the imaginative element. The traditionary fairy tales and folk stories are usually more suitable than those that appear in teachers' magazines and modern holiday books for children. The hardest thing for the educated mind to do is to write down to the level of children without coddling or becoming cynical. The old tales are sincere, simple, and full of faith. They are not written for children, but are the romance of the people with whom they came into existence, and they have stood the test of ages.

The myth is usually not suitable for young children, as it is a religious story having a symbolic meaning which is beyond their interpretation. If it is used at all, only the story in it should be given.

2. Stories of adventure, courage, and the defence of the helpless appeal very strongly to young children. Even the cruelties and crudities of Bluebeard, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp do not alarm or repel children very much, owing to their lack of experience in these matters. Stories based on the love of the sexes are unsuitable for children of this age, although it constitutes the chief element in stories for older people.

3. The child is also interested in stories of simple games, of animals and birds, and of the material world on which so much of his happiness depends. These stories are corrective of the desire which characterizes some children for too many fairy stories. The fairy story and the nature story should be alternated, so that the child's interests may be imaginative without becoming visionary, and practical without becoming prosaic.

4. Most children have a keen sense of the musical qualities of verse. The child of two years of age will give his attention to the rhythm of the nursery rhyme when the prose story will not interest him. The consideration and analysis of these musical qualities should be deferred for years; but it is probable that the foundation for a future appreciation of poetry is often laid by an acquaintance with the rhymes of childhood.

5. The element of repetition appeals strongly to children. In this lies the attractiveness of the "cumulative story", in which the same incident, or feature, or form of expression is repeated again and again with some slight modification; for example, the story of Henny Penny, The Gingerbread Boy, and The Little Red Hen. The choruses and the refrains of songs are pleasant for this reason.

Silverlocks and the Three Bears is an example of a story that has many attractive features. Silverlocks is an interesting girl, because she is mischievous and adventurous. The pupils know a good deal about bears and wild animals from picture books, stories, and perhaps the travelling menageries. The bears have all proper names—Rough Bruin, Mammy Muff, and Tiny; this gives an air of reality to the story. The bears speak in short, characteristic sentences.

Silverlocks runs away from home, goes into the woods, and finds a lonely house which is the home of the bears. They are not at home, so she enters. These actions suggest mystery and adventure.

The construction of the story shows two chief divisions, with three subdivisions. The second division begins with the return of the bears. They find the soup has been tasted, the chairs disturbed, and the beds rumpled; their conversation is interesting, and their tones characteristic. Tiny, the little bear, suffers most; he enlists the sympathy of the children, as he has lost his dinner and his chair is broken. He discovers Silverlocks, but she escapes and "never runs away from home any more".


1. In these Forms, the pupil's imagination is still strong, though less fantastic and under better control, and hence stories involving a large element of imagination retain their charm at this stage. The myth, and longer and more involved fairy tales, such as Ruskin's King of the Golden River, Hawthorne's Wonder Book, and Kingsley's Greek Heroes, are read with avidity.

2. Stories involving a number of incidents are wonderfully attractive. This is due to the pupil's instinctive interest in action and personality. Children are more deeply interested in persons who do things than in those who become something else than they were. A description of some evolution of character very soon palls, but a stirring tale of heroic deeds exerts a powerful fascination. This explains the attractiveness of the hero tale, the story of adventure, and the stirring historical narrative. The action should have the merit of artistic moderation. Stories in which there is a carnival of action, for example, the "dime thriller", under whose spell so many boys fall, must be avoided. Literature that leaves the mind so feverish that the pupil loses interest in other subjects is worse than no literature. The easiest way to prevent a taste for this injurious kind, is to give the pupil an acquaintance with works descriptive of noble deeds and virile character. An interest in epic poetry or the historical novel may be developed from the child's instinctive interest in action. Tennyson's Passing of Arthur, Arnold's Sohrab and Rustum, Longfellow's Evangeline and King Robert of Sicily, and Scott's Ivanhoe will be read with keen enjoyment. The force and beauty of the language, the faithfulness of the descriptions to life, the historical setting, the lofty imagery, and the logical development will arouse a healthy mental appetite that will find no pleasure in the worthless story of sensation and vulgar incident, or even in some badly constructed compositions of historical adventure.

3. The pupils of the Senior Forms show even more striking interest in animals, pets, and wild creatures than do the pupils of the Junior Forms. To this natural interest is due the engrossing character of nature study. To it is also due the satisfaction arising from the reading of some of the many nature stories that have appeared in recent years.

Thompson-Seton's Wild Animals I have Known and Lives of the Hunted, and Roberts' The Watchers of the Trails are excellent examples of this class.


Scattered throughout the Ontario Readers are to be found extracts from larger works. These extracts are placed there primarily because they have some special literary value. They have fairly complete unity in themselves and can be treated in detail in a way that would be impossible with a whole story. The extract has an advantage over the whole, in that it repays intensive study, while, in many cases, such study of the whole work would not be worth while. It is considered better to give the pupil many of these passages where the author has shown his greatest art, rather than to allow one long work to absorb the very limited time which the pupil can devote to this subject. The study of the extract will have accomplished its mission if it induces the pupil to read the larger work for himself in later years. If the treatment by the teacher is made as interesting as it should be, it is hoped that the pupil will obtain such delight from, and be inspired to such enthusiasm by, these glimpses of literary treasures, that he will not be satisfied until he has enjoyed in their entirety such works as The Lady of the Lake, Pickwick Papers, Lorna Doone, The Mill on the Floss, Julius Caesar, and It is Never Too Late to Mend. An extract may serve as an introduction to the choicest work of an author, may arouse an interest in his writings, and give the pupils a taste of his quality, but, unless it whets their appetites for the work as a whole, its chief purpose will not have been accomplished. These extracts cannot give a panoramic view of a great historical epoch. They do not require that sustained attention that relates to-day's readings with that of yesterday, and that takes a wider survey of many parts in their relation to a central theme. The larger work gives a culture and a liberal education, when it is treated in the proper manner, that is very different from the fragmentary knowledge of an author that would be gained by even the intensive study of many short extracts. The treatment of the extract, as we have said, must be minute; while the whole work should be subsequently read in a method that will be outlined later on under the head of Supplementary Reading.


Many of the lessons in the Ontario Readers should be preceded by preparatory work in geography, history, or nature study. Poems such as Jacques Cartier, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Burial of Sir John Moore, and The Armada cannot be fully appreciated unless the historical setting is known. There are famous pictures that will increase the pupil's interest in these poems. In the lessons on art, there are studies of pictures that suggest feelings and thoughts characterized by universality, permanency, and nobility—pictures that stir men to nobler thought and higher aspiration. Often, such pictures are the painter's method of expressing in colours, thoughts that the poet has expressed in words. Lessons such as Dandelions, Bob White, and The Sandpiper require a preliminary acquaintance with certain facts of nature, and therefore should be taken, if possible, when these can be obtained through personal observation by the pupils. Wolfe and Montcalm and Drake's Voyage Around the World demand, in addition to historical facts, certain geographical data. These facts and data should be communicated at some time before the lessons in literature are taken, in order that the latter may not descend into lessons in history, geography, or natural science. The extracts mentioned above are not placed in the Readers to teach certain historical, geographical, or scientific facts. They are placed there, as has been said, primarily because they have some value as literature. Hence the literature lesson should require few digressions, the necessary preparatory work having been done in previous periods.

But while history, geography, nature study, and art frequently assist in the interpretation of a poem or prose selection, these subjects, on the other hand, may be reinforced and strengthened by selections drawn from the fields of literature. The facts of the history lesson will be given an additional attractiveness if the pupil is directed to some well-written biography or drama embodying the same facts, or if the teacher reads or recites to the class some spirited ballad, such as Bonnie Dundee, bearing upon the lesson. The interest in the observations made in nature study will be intensified by reading some nature story written in good literary form.

While these studies may go hand in hand with literature, it is not necessary that they should be always taken on the same day or even in the same week. The literature lesson may be an effective agent in the recall of ideas that have had time to be assimilated from previous nature study, history, or geography lessons. In our enthusiasm for literature we must not make these subjects the mere soil and fertilizers out of which the flowers of poetry will spring. Each of these subjects has its proper sphere, but that teacher misses many golden opportunities who does not frequently take a comprehensive survey of his material in all these studies in order to find the element that will give a unity to all our knowledge and experience. The lessons in the Reader may be taken according to the conditions existing in the class or the inclination of the teacher. By no means is it necessary to follow the order in the book.


The teacher should always have a clear and definite aim in view in teaching a selection in literature, but different teachers may have different aims in teaching the same selection. There should, of course, always be the general aim to create a taste for good literature by leading the pupils to appreciate the beauty and power of clear and artistic expression of thought and feeling; but this aim must be specific according to the nature of the selection to be taught. Some specific aims may be given as suggestive:

1. To appeal suitably to such instinctive tastes and interests of childhood as are already awake and active; for example, Second Reader, p. 3, My Shadow; p. 185, A Visit from St. Nicholas; p. 125, Little Gustava; p. 215, The Children's Hour.

2. To awaken and develop interests and tastes that are as yet dormant; for example, Second Reader, p. 42, A Song for Little May; p. 88, The Brown Thrush.

3. To develop and direct the imagination; for example, Second Reader, p. 72, The New Moon; p. 117, Little Sorrow; p. 45, The Little Land; p. 172, The Wind.

4. To arouse and quicken the sense of beauty; for example, Second Reader, p. 92, Mother's World; p. 155, Lullaby.

5. To exercise and cultivate the emotions; for example, Second Reader, p. 94, Androclus and the Lion; p. 135, Ulysses; p. 107, A Night with a Wolf.

6. To develop manners and morals through examples of character and conduct in action; for example, Second Reader, p. 114, Joseph II and the Grenadier.

7. To develop appreciation for the well-told story; for example, Second Reader, p. 5, The Pail of Gold; p. 12, How I Turned the Grindstone; p. 56, The Blind Men and the Elephant; p. 211, How the Greeks Took Troy.

8. To develop a true sense of humour; for example, Second Reader, p. 50, Change About.

9. To develop a sense of reverence; for example, Second Reader, p. 203, The Lord is my Shepherd; p. 218, Abide With Me.


There are four outstanding principles of general method that apply particularly in the teaching of Literature.

I. The pupil must, at the outset, be placed in a receptive attitude toward the lesson if the best results are to be secured. He must have some purpose in view if he is to be induced to concentrate his attention upon it. His purposes determine his interests, and hence the lesson must, in some way, be related to interests that already exist in his mind. Frequently his instinctive interest in action, in personality, or in excitement is sufficient incentive to secure his attention. A suspicion that a lesson contains a good story is often sufficient to ensure a careful reading of it, and a curiosity as to the writer's devices to make the story interesting will lead to a closer examination of it. But more frequently some special interest resulting from the time of year, the surroundings, or the work taken in some other subject, may be effectively utilized by the teacher. These interests of children are so numerous and so varied that there are few lessons in the Readers for which a receptive attitude of mind cannot be secured. It will be observed that the principle here enunciated corresponds to the "statement of the aim" in the Herbartian "Formal Steps".

II. The pupil's mind must be suitably prepared for the assimilation of the ideas contained in the lesson, by recalling old ideas and feelings that are related to those to be presented in the selection to be studied. He must be placed in a proper intellectual attitude to interpret the ideas and in a proper emotional attitude to appreciate the feelings. Neglect of the former may make the selection wholly meaningless to the pupil; neglect of the latter may result in entire indifference toward it. A proper intellectual attitude is necessary in any lesson, but in a lesson in grammar or arithmetic the emotional attitude may be almost completely absent. In literature, however, this emotional attitude is often of the greatest importance, and the neglect of it may mean an utter lack of appreciation of some literary masterpiece. This preparatory work may take the form of a recall of some of the common experiences of the pupil's life or a review of some facts taken, for instance, in a previous geography, history, or nature study lesson. The apperceptive power of the pupil's mind takes the new material of thought and feeling contained in the selection and weaves it into the web of his previous ideas and emotions.

III. The mind always proceeds from a vague and indistinct idea of a new presentation to a clear and defined idea of it. The process is always analytic-synthetic. In a literature lesson the order of procedure must be: (1) Let the pupil get that somewhat indistinct grasp of the thought and feeling which comes from a preliminary reading of it; (2) make this more definite by a process of analysis, by concentrating attention on the details; (3) make the idea completely definite by a clear grasp of the relations existing among the various details, that is, by a process of synthesis.

IV. No impression is complete without some form of expression. An idea or emotion is a very incomplete and useless thing until it is worked out in practice and conduct. The thoughts and feelings gained from the literature lesson must be given some kind of expression if they are to be fully realized. This expression may take many different forms. The pupils may merely read the selection, showing to the listeners their understanding and appreciation of it. If it is a story, they may reproduce it in their own words orally or in writing. They may sketch a scene or a situation with pencil, or with brush and colours. They may dramatize it, or act it in pantomime. They may create a story with a similar theme, or imitate a poem by a creation of their own. The expression may not be immediate but may be delayed for days or even years, and come in some modification of future conduct.




To introduce children to the world of literature, it is not necessary to wait until they have mastered the art of reading. The introduction should come long before they have learned to read, through listening to good stories told or read to them by others, through hearing suitable poems read or recited with spirit and feeling, and by memorizing nursery rhymes and gems of poetry.

The material to be used in primary grades has already been described. Early work in literature should be correlated with oral composition.

As to the comparative merits of reading and telling, much may be said on each side. In the early stages, telling must, of course, be the predominant if not the exclusive means of communicating the story. The matter and language can thus be better adjusted to the capacity of the individual pupil. The teacher who is familiar with the pupil's home life and surroundings has within his power a means of adapting the story to the attainments of the pupil that even the best writer of children's stories can hardly command. A situation in a story can frequently be made intelligible by reference to the pupil's own experience. Moreover, in telling the story, the teacher's gestures, facial expression, and tone of voice are likely to be more spontaneous and natural than would be the case in reading, and this gives immense assistance in interpreting aright the meaning and spirit of the selection.

Some teachers say that the incident, as in the case of Hawthorne's Tales, is so meagre and the language so exquisite, that the telling seems to be quite inadequate and inferior to the reading of the story. In such cases, variety may be afforded by reading, but generally speaking, it is more effective to tell the story.

The teacher should strive to become a good story-teller. This requires a good voice, animated gesture and facial expression, a good command of English words, power of graphic description and narration, restraint from digression and superfluous detail, and concentration of aim upon some definite point.

In teaching poetry to primary classes, the main object is to lead the pupils to feel the music and realize the imagery. To attain this end, the best beginning is made by a sympathetic and expressive rendering of the passage by the teacher. It can be recited many times incidentally, while he is asking the pupils to look at the pretty pictures suggested by the text. It is not necessary to enter at any length into an analysis of the poem, unless the pictures are arranged in an easy order, such as spring, summer, autumn, winter.


One of the most valuable means of securing an appreciation of literature is the memorization of fine passages of prose and poetry. Pupils from the primary grades upward should be required to memorize systematically several lines of prose and poetry every week of the school year. During childhood the mind is at its most impressionable stage, and what is committed to memory is then retained longer and more accurately than what is memorized at any later period. The passages should be carefully selected and should be suited to the capacity and interests of the pupils. Nothing should be memorized that has not some meaning for them, but it would be impossible to require that every selection should be fully understood. The selections which children commit to memory in the most plastic period of their lives will often reveal a new and unexpected meaning and beauty in later years and will be a source of keen delight and satisfaction. The passages memorized will form a standard, unconscious it may be, by which to test the excellence of other selections.

It is of the greatest importance that the passages chosen should have artistic excellence in thought, feeling, music, imagery, and language. Moreover, these qualities must be present in such a form that they will, when properly presented by the teacher's reading or reciting, appeal, in some considerable measure, to the pupils' capacities and interests. Since there are so many noble passages in English literature, nothing of doubtful value should be memorized.

It is also very important that the teacher himself should have committed to memory and be able to recite freely and expressively every selection he requires his pupils to memorize. It is clear that, if he has memorized it himself, the pupils will be more likely to feel it worth while to do the same.

In conducting a lesson in memorization, it is well for the teacher to arouse the interest of the pupils in the selection as a whole by reciting it himself with expression. Next, he should see that the pupils understand as clearly as possible the meaning, and realize and appreciate, as far as they are able, the feeling of the passage. It should be treated first as an ordinary literature lesson, after the manner already described. It should then be read aloud several times by individual pupils, all trying meanwhile to commit it to memory by concentration of attention on the ideas and their relations, the words and their meanings. The principles of all habit formation apply here—attention to the thing to be learned, so as to get a clear understanding of it, and then repetition with attention. When it has been read several times, individual pupils should be asked to recite it without any aid. It will be found more satisfactory to memorize a complete stanza at a time, or at least a part that expresses a complete thought, rather than to commit to memory a line at a time. With young pupils, however, it is well to take small units and let the children repeat one or two lines at a time till they can give the whole stanza with ease and accuracy.

It is important that all repetition should be individual, not simultaneous. Where the latter method is in use, it is noticeable that pupils adopt a uniform tone and measured rhythm, both of which are undesirable. Moreover, especially with young pupils, there is a danger that absurd blunders made by individuals may pass unnoticed, because the teacher has not the opportunity of detecting them. When the passage has been memorized, it should be repeated daily for a time and then repeated at longer intervals, until there is little probability of its being forgotten.



The teacher must make himself thoroughly acquainted with the lesson that he has to teach. When it is an extract, he should be familiar with the longer work from which it is taken. He cannot teach the lesson "Maggie Tulliver" with the highest appreciation if he has not read The Mill on the Floss. But there is more than mere information required for successful teaching. In poetry the teacher should feel delight in the music, the expression, the emotion, till he is eager to communicate his feelings to the pupils. This enthusiasm, however, should not have in it any insincerity, or extravagant commendation of the poem or the author. The teacher who has wide information and genuine interest in his work will seldom fail to arouse a real pleasure in the literature lesson.

The relationship between the teacher and the pupils must be cordial if the lesson is to be successful. This is true in any subject, but the sympathetic bond must be especially strong in the literature lesson.


It has already been pointed out that it is frequently necessary to give preliminary lessons in nature study, science, history, or geography before the lesson in literature is presented. The pupil must have the right information before the literature lesson can arouse the emotion that the author wishes him to feel.

Not only is the possession of the right information necessary, but the pupil should be in the right mood for the lesson. A class that has just returned to the room after the games at recess is not in the proper state of mind to appreciate, at once, the recitation by the teacher of,

Break, break, break, On thy cold gray stones, O sea!

Even the enthusiasm and scholarship of the teacher will fail to be effective under these circumstances. He should arouse in the pupils the proper mental and emotional state by a very short talk on friendship. He can refer to the well-known stories of David and Jonathan, or Damon and Pythias, and tell them of the friendship existing between Arthur Hallam and Alfred Tennyson.

Before studying Lead, Kindly Light (p. 315, Third Reader) the teacher might ask the pupils to picture a solitary traveller in the desert far from home. Night is approaching; the darkness gathers, and the air grows chill. What would be the nature of his feelings? Away in the distance he discovers a faint light glimmering as from a lantern. Now, how would he feel? Continue till the pupils can see each part of the picture, the spiritual significance of which they are to learn through the poem.

To give an extended account of the author's life is a poor introduction, unless there is something of unusual interest about his personality or achievements. The pupils usually do not know anything about him, and the teacher's aim, in this preparatory work, is to relate the thought and feeling of the poem to the properly assimilated knowledge and experience of the pupils. In some cases, they may have made a favourable acquaintance with the author in another poem, and this may give the necessary stimulus to their interest in his life. The best time, however, to give a biography of an author, when that is helpful, is after the lesson has been studied, for then the pupils will appreciate what the teacher has to say about him personally.

In some poems, the circumstances under which they are written will be the only introduction necessary, as in the case of Break, break, break or The Recessional.

There is often an appropriate time for the teaching of a literature lesson. Sometimes it is the season of the year. The lesson on An Apple Orchard in the Spring should come when the blossoms are stimulating every bird and child with their loveliness, fragrance, and promise. The First Ploughing and the various poems on birds and flowers should come at this season. They can be followed, in turn, by A Midsummer Song and The Maple. There are poems in the Readers for September, November, Indian Summer, and Winter; and a wealth of material for the Christmas season. Yet the season may not always determine the time for such lessons. The pupil who has observed again and again an apple orchard in the spring, and who knows birds and trees, has a store of memories that will enable him to picture vividly what he reads about these at any time.

It may be objected that these methods of introduction make the pupil depend too much on the teacher, and do not throw him sufficiently on his own resources. It is to be remembered, however, that the great object of teaching literature is to cultivate a taste for it. When the pupil approaches a selection with ideas and feelings which are already, in his consciousness, related to those presented in the poem, he is in the best possible mental attitude to appreciate it, and the probability of his liking it is much greater than if it were presented without any such introduction. The pupil's first impressions of a poem are all-important, and it is essential that his first introduction to it should be made under the most favourable circumstances. If his first acquaintance with poetry is made under pleasant conditions, he will inevitably develop a taste for poetical literature, and that is the object which the teacher has in view. When this taste has been formed, it will not be necessary that the teacher should be at hand in order to recall the proper experiences for the interpretation of a passage. The pupil will read appreciatively on his own account, without any such assistance.

In all cases, the preparation of the pupils for the lesson must be short. Nothing more should be given than will suffice to bring them into a suitable mood; usually some simple experience of their lives is ample. The time for the lesson is always limited, and the proportion between the introduction and the main theme must always be maintained.


The next step in the development of the lesson is the presentation. How shall this be done? There are three ways: The teacher may ask the pupils to read the lesson silently at their seats or at home and come prepared to participate in the discussion; or he may ask some of them to read the lesson aloud; or he, himself, may read it to the pupils. The merits of each of these methods will be considered.

In prose, it is advisable to let the pupils read the selection before the lesson is taken up by the teacher. The pupils must have practice in getting the thought from the symbols on the printed page and in grasping the general trend of the story, the description, or the argument. The work will be mainly intellectual, but the pupils may also, at this stage, have practice in discovering the emotional elements in some of the prose extracts.

In the higher Forms, the teacher may occasionally allow some of his best readers to read a poem aloud, where the emotion is evident or the narrative plain. The Barefoot Boy, p. 118, Fourth Reader; The Homes of England, p. 375; and Bernardo del Carpio, p. 131, are examples of this kind.

It is usually a better plan for the teacher to read the poem to the pupils. With many poems of exquisite music and imagery, such as The Bugle Song, p. 337, Third Reader, the reading by a pupil who has not yet caught the meaning and spirit will be a failure, and the teacher will see that the mood that he has prepared with care at the opening is so certain to be dissipated that he must intervene in order to prevent the spoiling of the lesson. But the teacher who has studied the poem and whose feelings have been deeply stirred by its music and pictures can, through his reading, communicate to his pupils his own appreciation; and it will be a dull pupil who does not feel the contagion. It is, however, not well to insist on too great uniformity in method; the spirit rather than the form is vital.


1. To the reader himself. Poetical literature is akin to music. Poetry was originally sung by the minstrel, and the thought and feeling were communicated to the audience solely by the ear. The study of poetry by the eye is artificial, modern, and contrary to our hereditary instincts. We should not argue that the best way to appreciate music is found in following the symbols on the music sheet. It is only the highly educated musician who can imagine the delights of music by an examination of the written text. To some degree, it is the same with poetry. The music of the words and the appropriateness of the rhythm cannot be fully perceived by merely silent reading. The eye alone would never detect the exquisite music of such a poem as Hide and Seek, Third Reader, p. 50, or Break, break, break, p. 201. Nor could it perceive the suitability of the rhythm to the theme, as exhibited in How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix, Fourth Reader, p. 351. In this poem, we can hear in the rhythm the hoof beats of the horses as they gallop along. How often have we felt a new meaning and appropriateness that our voice alone has suggested!

2. To the listeners. The contagious nature of emotion has already been pointed out. The good reader, by his sympathetic and expressive rendering of the poem, may reveal to his listeners depths of feeling, the existence of which they had not before suspected. We have often been thrilled by a new emotion, upon hearing a familiar passage read by another.

Every teacher should be a good reader. His tone of voice, his movement, his gestures are the signs by which the pupils interpret his emotional attitude. If he is not already a good reader, he should bend all his energies to become one. Persevering practice, attention to mechanical features, such as distinct articulation, pausing, flexibility of voice, and, above all, a sympathetic appreciation of the author's thought and feeling, will soon convert a poor reader into a good one. He will soon find that his voice will accommodate itself insensibly in pitch, tone, and movement to the changing emotions of the poem. The delight of the lesson will be greatly enhanced where the reader lends to the rhyme of the poet the music of his voice.

The reading reveals the general thought of the poem. In simpler poems, the pupils will recognize in the reading the relationship and the intent of many of the subordinate parts. But the intellectual side is only secondary. Literature, in its finer forms, is not primarily an intellectual subject, such as grammar or mathematics. The emotional tone, the spiritual meaning, and the artistic form—these are the main elements, and these can be best developed by good reading. The teacher should acquire the habit of reading poetry aloud in his home, and should induce his pupils to follow his example. Further, as two senses will give a more vivid realization of thought than one, the pupil, in the class, should follow with his eye the reading of the teacher; and it is helpful for a church congregation to follow with the eye the reading of the scripture lesson by the minister.


The teacher should next assist the pupils to discover the main thought of the lesson. In many cases the meaning will be very vague, and the pupils will have difficulty in formulating a terse and comprehensive statement of the subject of the poem. If the question is asked in a stereotyped form, such as "What is the main thought of the poem?" the enthusiasm of the pupils is often chilled. The teacher may, if it is a narrative poem, ask for the main points in the story, and may assist the pupils by calling attention to some pertinent passage, or by removing difficulties by means of questions or explanations. In all cases, it is well to accept a partially correct answer by the pupils, and to try to improve its imperfection by questioning, until a fairly complete and substantial statement has been given. Every answer which contains even a fragment of sound thought should receive due recognition. In some cases it is sufficient, at the outset, to take an imperfect statement of the main thought, since the study of the poem will reveal its defects. The teacher must keep before his pupils this statement, so that at the conclusion of the lesson they will be quite ready to replace it by a more accurate one. The teacher should be careful that the emotions aroused by the poem are not unduly weakened or dissipated by the analysis of its intellectual content. Many lessons by young teachers fail just at this point, by reason of questioning unskilfully or by rejecting answers that do not correspond to their own cut-and-dried preconceptions.

The teacher should follow a similar method in discovering the leading thought of the subdivisions of the poem. These often correspond to the stanza forms, but the lesson may become very wearisome by insisting on too great detail. The poem often falls into two or three main divisions, into which the various stanzas may be grouped. With Senior Forms it is a good exercise to ask the pupils to make this grouping, but, with those not so advanced, the teacher himself may make it and ask the pupils for the central thought in each group. In the teacher's anxiety to have these subjects clearly stated, he runs the risk of wasting time and, worse than that, of killing whatever interest the pupils may have had up to this point. If the pupils could give these subjects with perfect clearness now, there would be little else to do. The greatest care must be exercised to prevent the work becoming mechanical, thus destroying the interest and making the selection distasteful.

With some pupils, the logical sense is quite strong, and they find their greatest delight in seeing the purpose of each part in a complex mechanism. With others, this work does not afford much pleasure. These are children who, later, can take delight in the flimsy plot of a musical comedy. Such pupils should be encouraged to do their best to discover some points of beauty or skill in the arrangement of the selection. In different lessons there is a difference in construction. In some, the logical connection and development is so important that this quality must be stressed, but the works of some authors have merits which throw the arrangement into a very subordinate position; for example, "Ring out, Wild Bells", from In Memoriam.


The next stage in the analysis is the examination of the passage minutely. There is always a place in the lesson for the study of words and phrases. The teacher should ask questions on these, in order to ascertain if the pupils have felt their force and vitality. They are to be taken up only to illuminate and impress the main thoughts and emotions of the poem.

In some cases, as in prose lessons, the pupils may acquire the dictionary habit. This develops and cultivates a studious disposition and accuracy of statement. But in poetry there are many subtle meanings that the dictionary will not give, but which the pupil has learned through contact with educated people and acquaintance with books. Most of the words that people use have not been learned from the dictionary, but from their context in reading or conversation.

On the other hand, many lessons are spoiled by too constant inquiry into meanings. There is much mere learning of meanings without reference to the thought or emotion that they are intended to explain. Many words are explained that are already understood. The fault may be due to the teacher's experience with annotated text-books of literature. The teacher, who has been prepared for his examination by this method, is disposed to carry it into Elementary School work, till even The Recessional becomes merely a theme for learning verbal meanings.


There are many references in the text-books to geographical, scientific, and historical matters. If these allusions. In poems such as The Armada there must be a preliminary lesson such as has been indicated. Very often the enthusiast in these subjects will make literature a mere peg on which to hang much information. Teachers often make long digressions in connection with these allusions, till the mood of the poem is completely lost in the mist of the disquisitions. The same method should be adopted in teaching allusions as in teaching the meanings of words. Only such explanation is necessary as will show the purpose of the author in introducing the allusions. In poems such as The Armada there must be considerable explanation given, before the pupils will feel the emotion that the author hopes to kindle by the mention of the names that are used in it. With Canadian children, the effect in the case of this poem cannot be so great as with English children, who are more familiar with the special geographical and historical associations.

The teacher of young people cannot hope, by explanation of the allusions, to arouse all the pleasure and the vitality of emotion that will be induced in the reader who has the culture that comes of wide reading; nor can the teacher communicate this emotion when the information is new. The pleasure comes, later on, from the recall of information that was assimilated in earlier years.


The language of poetry is generally concrete. The artist may wish to give expression to a general truth, or philosophical principle, or ethereal fancy. These appear very abstract, but the artist embodies in material forms the idea he wishes to convey. The poet expresses his thought by the suggestion of material imagery, and emotion is most readily aroused by these images.

Antony, in his funeral oration after Caesar's death, knew how to arouse his audience to fury by showing them Caesar's wounds and holding before them Caesar's mantle with its rents. Not always can the real object be produced for these emotional effects, but the teacher can sometimes bring into the class-room, for the benefit of young pupils, concrete material such as pictures and work in manual training. He can also call attention, at times, to the falling snow or the colour of the leaves or the sky, by asking the pupils to look out of the class-room windows. But in most cases, he has to be content with trying to recall the memory of these natural things. This shows how valuable has been the excursion of the boy into the country, and his experience on holidays by the river and in the harvest field. The nature study lesson furnishes the material for future enjoyment of poetry.

The pupils in our schools are very capable in realizing visual imagery. They can see the visual image very readily with its colour, form, and movement. They can arrange the objects in the picture with foreground, background, light, and shade.

But it is quite a different matter when they try to realize auditory imagery. In the poem Waterloo, Fourth Reader, p. 311, they can see the picture in "bright the lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men". They see the large ball-room with its glass chandeliers, the costumes of handsome ladies, the scarlet uniforms and the decorations of the officers and the nobility. But can they realize the next imagery, that of sound, "and when music arose with its voluptuous swell"? Do they hear the squeaking of one or two fiddles or do they hear the voluminous sound of regimental bands? Do they notice the varying metre from the stately iambic to the sudden "voluptuous swell" of the foot of three syllables in waltz time?

These images of sight and sound picture the gaiety and magnificence of this festive scene, in order to make more marked the contrast with the fear and pathos of the farewells. This contrast is enforced by the two auditory images:

And all went merry as a marriage bell; But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!

Can your pupils image the wedding-bells chiming from the cathedral some afternoon in June, when suddenly the ear catches the sound of a death-bell tolling from another church? Any reader who cannot realize the sounds of those two bells with their discordant effects will miss the intention of Byron.

The pupils, through the stimulation of their senses, must have experienced the luxurious effects of orchards, flower gardens, and clover fields; the odours of apple blossoms and the smell and taste of the "full-juiced apple waxing over-mellow"; the perfumes and temperatures of spring, midsummer, and winter if they are to read nature literature intelligently and feel its charm. The words must have meaning if they are to awaken the feeling that was part of the original experience.


In literature, as in other arts, there is a great deal that is merely decorative. It is not the purpose here to disparage this form of art. "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever. Its loveliness increases." Some of the most famous portraits and landscapes in the picture galleries afford infinite pleasure to the student of art by the technique in colour, drawing, and arrangement. They are greater than photography. "The light that never was on sea or land, the consecration and the poet's dream" have given them a beauty that is greater than the realism of the actual person or natural scene. It is the same in literature. The author's feelings, his language, the rhythm of his words, and his delicate fancy afford the reader greater delight than he has ever known when he has met similar persons, scenes, or actions in real life. This is genuine aesthetic pleasure, similar to the pleasure that people derive from china, music, or landscape gardening.

There is, however, a higher form of art in both pictures and literature. There are pictures that suggest some noble aspiration, some great universal truth, some great conflict between duty and interest. We feel instinctively that these are greater than pictures possessing mere masterly technique. It is the same in literature. There are poems in which we feel that the thoughts and feelings are sublime. Perhaps the technique of these is not equal to that of the poetry described in the preceding paragraph, but the experienced teacher has felt his pupils lifted above mundane affairs, when they begin to grasp the true significance of such poems. The youngest pupils show their appreciation by wide open eyes, when these are read. They instinctively feel that this work is better than the merely pretty and dainty things in poetry.

In the Ontario Readers we have numerous poems of this nature. In the First Reader, the pupils instinctively feel that Piping Down the Valleys Wild is of different calibre from Three Little Kittens. The Lord is my Shepherd, Lead, Kindly Light, and To a Waterfowl, are examples of this class.

In teaching these lessons, the spiritual meaning should be constantly emphasized.

The mere statement of the thought is not impressive. It is the presentation of it in poetical form that makes its effect impressive and lasting. The pupils may be led to discover how the author has accomplished this by means of the concrete embodiment of imagery, language, metaphor, and music.


The lesson is often dropped just at this time, leaving an impression somewhat like that of a science room, with the petals and leaves on the desks and the floor, after the class in botany has been dismissed. No act of analysis is complete without a final synthesis. The examination of the various phases of the whole must be followed by a reconstruction in which are perceived the relations of the various phases to each other and to the unity of the whole. These various parts must be closely related to one another if the final conception of the poem is to be definite. When the analysis is in progress, the teacher should not, of course, take each part by itself and examine it as if it were an isolated thing, but its relation to what has gone before should be more or less clearly perceived. When the analysis is complete, there should be a final synthesis in which the relations of the various parts stand out definitely. This can be done by means of a statement of the main thought in concise but comprehensive terms. If the teacher has accepted an imperfect statement at the beginning, the pupils will now be in a position to discover its inadequacy and supply the part that is lacking. Then the subjects of the various subdivisions or stanzas can be restated in suitable terms that will show the proper relationships. This reconstruction may also take the form of oral or written reproduction of the selection. This is especially valuable after the prose lessons. There should follow an oral reading of the passage by the pupils, which will serve to show the teacher how much of the feeling of the poem has been absorbed, how clearly the pupils have understood the meaning, and what misconceptions have arisen in their minds.


There are some mistakes in teaching literature that are noted here, in order that they may be avoided:

1. Teaching pupils about literature, instead of teaching literature itself; for example, teaching biography, etymology, history, geography, or science in the literature lesson, because some feature of one or more of these may be suggested by the language of the lesson. A knowledge of such subjects is merely preparatory to the study of literature itself.

2. Teaching merely the meanings of words and phrases, and omitting the greater things of imagery, thought, beauty of language, and the spirit of the writer.

3. Trying to force appreciation by telling the pupils they must learn to like such and such works because educated people like them. It is useless, at this time, to try to develop the critical spirit, as the pupil has not a sufficiently wide acquaintance with literary works on which to form a judgment.

4. Doing for the pupil what he should be led to do for himself. A literature lesson, in which the teacher has been doing all the talking, or both asking and answering questions, will be barren of good results.

5. Paraphrasing. Short passages may be paraphrased, in order to show whether the pupil has understood the force and vitality of the metaphor or the condensed expression. But paraphrasing must be used with great discretion. The teacher will not make the pupils appreciate the beauty of a fine literary selection by converting refined gold into low grade ore.

6. Attempting to draw some moral from every lesson. Not all lessons are didactic. If the pupils have sympathized with what is noble and just in the story, the statement of a moral at the conclusion is unnecessary. Yet in poems that are plainly didactic, for example, To a Waterfowl, Fourth Reader, p. 377, the moral lesson must occupy the first place. There the teacher should show how the author has enforced the lesson of confidence in God's guidance by the incident of the migrating waterfowl, the imagery, the music, the arrangement of parts, and the similarity of his own position to that of the bird.

7. Dwelling unnecessarily on the intellectual side of a poem that is mainly emotional and musical; for example, The Bugle Song, Third Reader, p. 337, and The Solitary Reaper, Fourth Reader, p. 261. In the former case, the pupils should be led to realize the visual imagery, should hear, in imagination, the bugle calls and fading echoes, and enjoy the rare and appropriate music. In the second case, the teacher should call attention to the artistic suggestions of loneliness, distance, antiquity, sadness, and vagueness that are suggested by "old, unhappy, far-off things, and battles long ago", and by such possible situations of English travellers in remote parts of the world, and should show that these elements are suitable for the circumstances under which the poet sees the girl. He who questions merely to find out the meaning of the poem, the relation to that of its subordinate parts, and the meaning of the words and phrases, is using a very heavy tool on a very delicate mechanism. Such works must be treated deftly and lightly.


The class of literature that we have described in the preceding methods is condensed literature, where thought is large in proportion to the number of the words. It must be read by a process of close thinking, in an analytic, exhaustive manner. There must be a clear comprehension of the central ideas, and a strong grasp of minor thoughts or details, and the relation of these to the central ideas. While this power to grasp thought intensively is very valuable, we should also have the power to grasp the thought rapidly and comprehensively.

In some works, the thought is not so condensed and confined. Here, the main effort of the reader is to grasp the thoughts successively in a rapid, clear, and comprehensive manner. He must be able to read a book chapter by chapter and grasp the central ideas, to hold paragraph after paragraph, chapter after chapter, in his consciousness, so that each gives added illumination to the main thought and, at the end, the whole of the work stands out in its entirety. He must learn to grasp the central thought in each section as he proceeds—to sift the wheat from the chaff. The minor details have been of value in giving him the main thought, but the real ability of the good reader consists in dropping these minor details from the mind and holding steadily on to the more important facts.

This method gives a greater power of sustained attention and a wider acquaintance with good literature. Most of our reading is done in this way. It would be impossible otherwise to get a wide range, as time does not permit of minute analysis, and many of our longer works are so diffuse that they would not repay such careful study.

The supplementary, or extensive, reading may be given as seat work or home work. As seat work, it can come as a grateful relief from the arduous tasks in the ungraded school and will keep many an active mind from getting into mischief. By questioning about the main facts the teacher can assure himself that the work has actually been done. This questioning should not be used only to catch the negligent; it should give pleasure to the pupils as a conversation with them about their pleasant occupation. It should be done very informally, often as two intelligent people would discuss a book. The questions should be broad in their scope and should not dwell on matters of detail. If it is a story that is to be considered, it should be examined as follows: Discover what are the difficulties set up; how they are brought about; how they are overcome; how many threads of interest there are; why certain characters are introduced; what would be the effect if certain parts were omitted; to what extent the final solution is logical.

When the examination is finished, a series of compositions might be written on topics connected with the story. For instance, if Rip Van Winkle has been studied, a series of three compositions might be assigned: (1) Rip's domestic life; (2) his adventure in the mountain; (3) his return to the village. Three compositions would be better than a single one on the whole story, because too great condensation usually detracts from the value, and because the excellence of a school composition is usually in inverse proportion to its length.

It is exceedingly important that the teacher should see that these written exercises are not made distasteful to the pupil. They are very valuable if they are not considered irksome. The object is not so much to give skill in composition as to create a taste for wide and excellent reading. It would be better to allow this written reproduction to drop rather than to associate the pleasures of literature with something disagreeable.



In the lessons that follow, the answers given to questions are those which pupils may be expected to give after corrections and additions have been made by themselves and the teacher.

Professor Alexander has said:

It is impossible to exemplify on paper actual teaching. Actual teaching, as all other practical matters, is in large measure determined by circumstances and conditions which are never twice the same. A large part of a teacher's skill lies in the sympathetic perception of these conditions and in the power of adapting himself to them on the spur of the moment. The teacher should have a definite aim in view, and a general conception of the proper method to be followed; but these will be modified by the character of the pupils before him, of the answers given, of the manifestation of interest, and the comprehension of the various points brought forward. A question quite proper in one case will be quite out of place in another. What knowledge should be imparted by the instructor, what elicited from the pupils themselves, what matters dwelt upon, what lightly passed over—these things can only be determined by the actual circumstances.



(Primer, page 75)

Little Miss Muffet sits on a low chair eating from an imaginary dish. The spider comes creeping softly behind her. When he reaches her side, he sits quietly down. Then she sees him and, in a great fright, jumps up and runs away.



(Primer, page 68)

The senior division of the primary class had read the story of Little Boy Blue. Norman asked: "May we play it? May I be Little Boy Blue?"

Allan said: "I'd like to be the farmer".

Dorothy wished to be the farmer's wife.

Clara asked if the pupils of the highest class might be the cows and the sheep.

As Norman was enthusiastic and eager to express himself, he was permitted to direct the movements of the different characters.

The farmer selected a horse and prepared to take him to market, while Little Boy Blue could be seen tramping along the road (the front part of the room). The cows and sheep were grazing quietly near by.

As Little Boy Blue approached the farmer, he removed his cap and said: "Good morning, sir, do you want a boy?"

Farmer: "Yes, I want one to watch the cows and the sheep."

Little Boy Blue: "I can do that, sir."

Farmer (handing Little Boy Blue a toy horn that had been brought to school for use during a drawing lesson): "Here is a horn, then. If they try to go away, blow this, and they will come back."

Little Boy Blue: "I will, sir."

The farmer drove away, and Little Boy Blue watched the cows and the sheep. Once they were about to wander away (among the aisles), but Little Boy Blue blew the horn, and they immediately returned. He soon grew tired of watching them; they seemed to be content to graze quietly where they were. He leaned against a haystack (a chair) and fell asleep. The cows were soon in the corn and the sheep in the meadow, where the farmer saw them as he was driving home. But he could not see Little Boy Blue. He called:

Little Boy Blue, Come blow your horn, The sheep are in the meadow, The cows are in the corn.

Farmer: "Wife, where is Little Boy Blue?"

Wife: "He is under the haystack, fast asleep."

Farmer (going to haystack):

Little Boy Blue, Come blow your horn.

The boy jumped up, blew a blast on the horn, and the sheep and cows immediately came back.

Little Boy Blue: "It was my fault and I'm sorry."

Farmer: "All right, you'll take better care of them next time."


(Primer, page 48)

When the teacher suggests that a game be played, many pupils fairly project themselves backward in an effort to look so well that they may be chosen to take part in it.

The teacher wrote "Dorothy" on the black-board. Dorothy whispered that she would like to play the story of Henny Penny. (The adventures of Henny Penny had been recounted the day before.) The teacher wrote the story of Henny Penny. As Dorothy had sufficient self-confidence and a good memory, she was allowed to choose her part, which was certain to be that of the principal character. Had she not possessed these qualities, she would have been assigned a minor part during the first attempt at dramatizing this story. The teacher wrote "Rooster Pooster" on the black-board. "I should like to be Rooster Pooster", said Albert. "Turkey Lurkey", wrote the teacher. "I'd like to be Turkey Lurkey", said another. In this or some similar way, the parts were assigned.

As the play began, Henny Penny was discovered pecking at imaginary worms in the garden; suddenly she jumped up in a great fright. "Oh, the sky is falling!" she said, "I must run and tell the king". She ran down the road (an aisle) till she met Rooster Pooster.

When he saw her coming, he stopped crowing and asked, "Where are you going, Henny Penny?" "Oh", she said, "the sky is falling, and I am going to tell the king". "I will go too", said Rooster Pooster. They ran down the road till they met Turkey Lurkey gobbling contentedly. The usual formula was repeated, and Turkey Lurkey ran on with them.

But the fox (villain) was waiting around the corner. "Where are you going, Henny Penny, Rooster Pooster, and Turkey Lurkey?" said he. "Oh, Fox Lox", they said, "the sky is falling and we are going to tell the king". "I will show you the way." "Oh, no, Fox Lox, we know you. We will not go with you."

So they ran and ran, but had to return home because they did not find the king's house.


(Primer, page 52)

The pupils knew by the pictures on page 52 that the lesson would be a delightful one, but when they attempted to read it, they found difficulties that lessened their pleasure somewhat.

They enjoyed reading "I wish I could find a little fat fly", but "sad little sigh" and "an odd little shrug" were very difficult to say and were meaningless until the children imitated the teacher's "sad little sighs" and "odd little shrugs".

The pupils were then asked which little chicken they would like to be. The first pupil to respond was chosen. He went to the front of the room, which was then a garden, and with a much bigger sigh than was necessary, complained: "I wish I could find a little fat fly".

The other pupils then eagerly studied the page, that they might learn what the next little chicken said and did. The teacher was always ready to tell them any words they could not discover for themselves. One pupil could make a shrug but could not remember the second little chicken's words, so another was found who could say what the second little chicken said in just the way he would say it if he could talk. The other little chickens and the mother hen were chosen in a similar manner.

The mother hen could be seen busily scratching at one end of the garden, while her little chickens were walking aimlessly about.

First Chicken (after sighing):

"I wish I could find a little fat fly."

Second Chicken (with a shrug):

"I wish I could find a fat little bug."

Third Chicken (with a squeaky voice):

"I wish I could feel some corn in my beak."

Fourth Chicken (sighing):

"I wish I could find a fat worm on a leaf."

Mother Hen (impatiently):

"See here, if you want things to eat, just come here and scratch."


Rock-a-bye, my little owlet, In the mossy, swaying nest, With thy little woodland brothers, Close thine eyes and take thy rest.

Hush-a-bye, my little owlet, Many voices sing to thee; "Hush-a-bye," the water whispers, "Hush!" replies the tall pine tree. —LONGFELLOW

There had been language lessons on the habits of the Indians; their way of living had been worked out, as far as possible, on the sand-table, and pictures representing Indian life had been shown. The pupils had eagerly constructed an Indian home—"Dark behind it rose the forest" (twigs from the pine and other evergreen trees), "Bright before it beat the water".

The lessons in drawing, painting, end modelling had been connected with this work. From their boxes of coloured crayons, the pupils had selected the colours used in making the pine trees, the grass, the bark of the trees, the owl in the tree, the wigwams, etc.

From the many beautiful Indian lullabies that would have been suitable, the teacher selected the Indian Lullaby by Longfellow. During the periods set apart for music, the pupils had been taught the desired melody with the syllable "loo".

Teacher. "How does your mother put baby to sleep?"

Pupils. "My mother rocks the baby in her arms." "Mine puts him on the bed and he falls asleep." "We rock our baby in a cradle," etc.

Teacher. "The picture I give you will show you what the Indian mother does with her baby."

Each pupil was given a small picture showing an Indian baby in his cradle suspended from a tree. These pictures had been cut from a supplement to Primary Education.

Teacher. "What has the mother done?"

Pupils. "She has put her baby in a basket and hung it on a tree."

Teacher. "Is the baby in the picture awake or asleep?"

Pupils. "He is asleep."

Teacher. "What could the baby see before he went to sleep?"

Here a picture—fourteen by twenty inches—was shown. It was a good representation of an Indian home and its surroundings. The pupils had made use of this picture when working at the sand-table.

Pupils. "He could see the pine trees, the water, the wigwams, the canoes, the Indians," etc.

Teacher. "What could the baby hear while swinging in his cradle?"

Pupils. "He could hear the Indians talking. He could hear the wind among the trees; the water; the birds singing in the woods; the cry of an owl; perhaps wolves, bears," etc.

Teacher. "What other babies lived in the woods?"

Pupils. "Birds, squirrels, owls, wolves," etc.

Teacher. "A man once wrote what he thought an Indian mother might have sung to her baby. This is what he thought she would sing." (The teacher recited the Indian Lullaby.)

Individual pupils then repeated one stanza at a time with the assistance of the teacher.

The pupils sang softly the melody they had learned to "loo"; then all tried to sing the words with the teacher. The purpose was to emphasize the rhythm and interpret the spirit of the poem. The lesson occupied twelve to fifteen minutes. At another time, hectographed copies of the poem were given to the pupils, and as they had already partly memorized it, they soon learned to read it.




(First Reader, page 49)

It is the aim of this lesson to help the pupils to appreciate imaginative descriptions of some natural phenomena. This lesson will be best appreciated if taken some day in autumn when the leaves are falling. If the pupils have recently noticed the wind rushing through the trees, scattering the many-coloured leaves and driving them before it along the ground, they will be in the best mood to enter into the spirit of the poem.

What is the time of the year that the poem speaks about? The autumn.

Select all the things that tell you this. The leaves have "dresses of red and gold"; "summer is gone"; "the days grow cold"; the leaves come "fluttering" down; the "fields" are "brown".

What did the wind mean by "Come o'er the meadows with me, and play"? It meant that they should come down from the trees and be blown away by the wind across the fields.

What does it mean by "Put on your dresses of red and gold"? Before they fall, the leaves have many beautiful colours.

What was the colour of their dresses in summer? When do they begin to change colour very quickly?

What leaves show the most beautiful colours? What different colours have you noticed that leaves have?

When does the wind call? When it blows loudly or whistles.

Do you know what the wind says when it calls? Why not? We do not understand the language that it speaks.

How did the leaves show that they understood? They obeyed at once and came down from the trees.

What is meant by "fluttering" down? They came down slowly, moving from side to side, and turning over and over as they fell. (This could be shown in the class-room quite easily.)

Which line in the first stanza corresponds in meaning with the third line of the second? The second line.

What makes the fields "brown"? It is the end of the summer, and the grass and the plants have dried up.

What colours have the fields at other seasons of the year? Green in the spring, golden in the summer, white in the winter.

What are "the soft little songs" of the leaves? The rustling sounds they make as they are blown about by the wind.

Why do we not understand their songs? For the same reason that we do not understand the call of the wind—their language is not ours.

"Winter had called them." What is the voice of winter? The cold winds that roar and whistle.

What is meant by "content"? The leaves were quite glad to answer the call.

Why were they content? The work that they had been doing all summer long was done; they were tired and sleepy and glad to go to bed.

When may it be said that the leaves are "fast asleep"? When they lie quietly on the ground, no longer blown about by the wind.

How were they kept warm during their long sleep? The snow came and covered them up warmly, like a "blanket".

What does the whole lesson describe? The falling of the leaves.

What does the first stanza speak of? The call of the wind.

The second? The answer of the leaves.

The third? The leaves asleep.

Tell the story of the poem in your own words.


(First Reader, page 52)


To enable the pupils to appreciate the pretty pictures and the music, and to learn how their pretty songs were written.


In far-away countries there are many sheep, and they require shepherds. These shepherds, as they can rest while their sheep feed, sometimes amuse themselves by cutting oat straws and making them into little flutes. They cut holes in the straws, just as you see holes in flutes or in tin whistles. They learn to play very pretty tunes. David, king of Israel, was, in his youth, a shepherd boy, and he learned to play beautiful music while he watched his sheep. The Psalms that you find in the Bible were composed by him.


Now let us read about a shepherd who was playing music. (The teacher reads the poem.) While he was playing, what did he see? He saw a little child sitting on a cloud.

What was the child doing? He was laughing.

Why? He liked the music.

What kind of music was it? It was pleasant, full of joy.

Where was the shepherd? In a valley.

Tell what the valley was like. It was wild. It had big rocks and hills on each side, and a cloud was over the valley.

What did the child ask him to do? To play "a song about a Lamb".

Why did he do that? Because the sheep were pretty and he thought he should like to hear pretty music about them.

How did the child like it? He asked the shepherd to play the tune again, and it was such beautiful music that the keen enjoyment of it made the tears come to his eyes.

What did the child next ask? He wished to have the music put into words, so he asked the shepherd to "sing" it.

How did the child enjoy it? It was so lovely that he "wept with joy".

What did he ask the shepherd to do? To "write" it down.

Why? The child thought it was so lovely that he wanted other children to hear it, too.

Yes, that is the way that we come to have all these pretty poems in our books. If they were only played or sung, not so many children could have the opportunity of enjoying them.

What do you need when you write? We need pens, and paper, and ink.

The shepherd had not steel pens, and white paper, and black ink. He may have used the bark of trees to write on.

How did he get a pen? He "plucked a hollow reed", and he "made a rural pen".

What does that mean? He took a hollow stalk, such as an oat straw or a weed, and cut it in the form of a pen.

What is a "rural pen"? "Rural" means belonging to the country. The pen was not made as ours are. The shepherd wrote about sheep and other things belonging to country life.

How did he get any ink? He took "water" from the stream and "stained" it so that it would leave a mark something like our ink.

Yes, the paper, the pen, and the ink would not be so good as at present, but they would serve as a beginning.


1. Where was the musician?

2. What kind of instrument was he playing?

3. Where was the child?

4. What was the child's second request?

5. What was his third request?

6. How was the shepherd able to write?

7. Why did the child wish him to write?

(The pupils may not understand "rural", "valley", "pipes", so the teacher should give such further explanation as the different cases demand.)


(First Reader, page 103)

The aim of this lesson is to teach, by means of a story, the moral of trusting in God and trying to do one's best.

The teacher should introduce the lesson by inquiring of the pupils if they have ever watched a young bird learning to fly. Its timidity and the anxiety of the mother-bird should be especially emphasized. A brief reference to the swallow might also be in place, though this is not essential, as the poet has selected it merely as a type of birds in general, and almost any other bird would answer his purpose as well. The rapidity and grace of the swallow's flight, and its habit of constructing its nest of mud under the eaves and in other sheltered places about buildings, are the main points to be noted.

What is the lesson about? About a baby swallow learning to fly.

What do the first four stanzas tell us? His fears.

And the last three? The success of his effort.

What do you see in the picture? A tower with a bell in it.

What name is given here for tower? Turret ("Turret" means a little tower.)

From its sound, what do you think "belfry" means? The place where the bell is.

What, then, is a "belfry turret"? A tower where a bell is hung.

On what part of the tower had the bird its nest? The front.

What word does the poet use to express that? "Breast".

What has been beating against the tower for years? The wind, sun, rain, snow.

What one word would stand for all these? Weather.

Explain "weather-beaten".

In perching on its nest, what does the baby swallow seem ready to do? To fly.

What other words might the Mother-Bird use instead of "courage"? "Don't be afraid."

How many wings are meant by "either wing"?

In this stanza, what is the "Mother-Bird" doing? Giving the little bird instructions in the way to begin flying.

Describe how he is to begin.

How does the baby feel about it? He feels afraid.

What word tells you this? "Pauses."

What does he think is deep? The distance between the tower and the ground.

Why is the bird afraid to attempt to fly? It is so far to the ground and his "wings" seem very "small".

Why is the "Mother" not afraid to let her baby try? She knows that God will carry him safely.

How does she know this? Because "He" had "carried" her.

When? When she was as small as the baby swallow is now.

Why does the "Mother" tell him this? To encourage him to make the attempt.

How does the baby swallow make his start? He "spreads out his wings" as far as he can and "springs" out.

Which stanza has almost the same form as this? The second.

What is he surprised to find? That he is able to fly.

How does he feel after that about flying? He is no longer afraid.


What is he able to do well? To steer.

What does this mean? To fly in any direction he wishes.

How does the "Mother" feel over her baby's success? She feels glad.

To whom does she give thanks? To God.

How does she do so? By singing a song of thankfulness.

What can we learn from this story? That, if we really try to do a difficult thing, we can usually succeed; that sometimes a thing that looks hard is really very easy when we try to do it.

Tell this story in your own words. Tell any similar story you know.


(First Reader, page 110)


You stood on the bridge and looked at the stream. What did you see? I saw some little fishes. I saw my image. I saw some bright stones.

It is no wonder you looked at the stream when it shows you so many things. What were the fishes doing? They were swimming. They would dart after some crumbs that we dropped into the water.

Why were the fishes there? That is their home.

Yes, they like to live in the clear water. Mary says she saw her image. What have you at home that shows you your image? The mirror.

Yes, the brook is somewhat like the mirror. Did you see images of any other things? Yes, I saw images of the trees, and some stones, and I saw the images of the ducks that were swimming.

Willie says that he saw some pretty pebbles. Does the brook make any noise? Yes, it seems to sing when it runs over the pebbles, but in the deep places it does not make a noise.


Now I shall read you a little poem about a brook. (Read with emphasis, even with slight exaggeration.) Now, where did this brook begin? In "a fountain".

What is that? A spring of water.

Where was the fountain? "In a mountain".

What is that? A high hill.

Was it very large where it started? No, the lesson says it was only "Drops of water" and it trickled "through the grasses".

What does it mean by "Trickling through the grasses"? It means that there was so little of it that the blades of grass seemed almost to check its source.

Did it run very fast at first? No, the lesson says that it "started" "Slow".

Did it run any faster after that? Yes, "Soon it darted", and it was "Hurrying".

What caused it to dart and hurry? The ground was steeper, and it had to run more quickly.

Where was it running? Down "to the sea", where it would be lost in the other water.

Did it grow any larger before it came to the sea? Yes, it grew "Swift and strong", and it widened "very fast".

What caused it to widen? Other little brooks ran into it and made it wider.

Now, the brook is said to be like a person. Can you point out any words that make you think it was like a person? Yes, it hurries just as children hurry.

In the next stanza, the lesson says it was "Glad". Why was it glad? It was glad that the "Children" came to play on its banks.

Yes, it felt just as you feel when your friends come over to your house to play. Do you see any other words that make you think it is like a person? Yes, it is "Swift and strong and happy". It rushes and it sings.

What is it like now? It is like a big, strong, happy boy.

Why did the children come to play on its banks? They came to pick the flowers.

What line shows you that? "Blossoms floating." The children picked the flowers and threw some on the stream to watch the current carry them away.

What else were the children doing? They were sailing toy boats in the water.

What words show you that? "Mimic boating."

What else did the children enjoy? They liked to see the "Fishes darting past" them. The fishes were timid.

The brook makes some very pleasant sounds. What words show you that? "Rippling", "Bubbling", "singing", "ringing".

When does the water make these sounds? When it is running "over pebbles" or down the steep places.

You must fancy you hear the brook make its gentle music when it is running over the pebbles. What does the water look like when it ripples? It is not smooth; it has tiny waves upon it.

You have heard the water bubble and gurgle, and then, when the stream grows large and runs faster, you can hear it "singing" and "ringing" in the distance. The poet tells us some pretty things about the brook. Tell me some of them. It was "Cool and clear and free".

Why was it "Cool"? It had flowed among the grasses and had come from a spring in a mountain.

Why was it "clear"? It was such pure water that you could see the stones at the bottom of the brook.

Why does the poet say it was "free"? There were no logs nor big stones to stop its course. It ran freely on its way.

Do you see any other words that describe its appearance? It is "Flecked with shade and sun".

Now "Flecked" is a hard word. It means spotted or striped. Can you tell me what that means? Sometimes the brook is bright and shining and, in some places, it is shaded by the trees or by the clouds. You can see bright patches on the water.

Now you have told me many wonderful things about this brook; where it began and where it ended, how it grew, how it sang, how glad it was to see the children, and how the children played with it, and how it looked. What does it tell us at first? It tells us where it began.

In the next stanza? It runs a little faster.

In the next? It was glad to see the children.

In the next? The children were playing with it.

In the next? It ran bubbling and singing into the sea.


Now we shall learn the words of this pretty lesson, taking the first stanza to-day. Let us take the first three lines. Now all the lines. Let each one be ready to repeat it. See whether you can say the first stanza to-morrow, and then we shall learn some more.




(Second Reader, page 3)


The aim of the lesson is to make the poem so lifelike that it will seem to each pupil as though the shadow and the words were his own.


After the poem has been read to give a general idea of the story, the teacher should proceed with it in detail, much in the same spirit as he would carry on a bright conversation with the pupils about something in which they were all equally interested.

Stanza I

How do I know my shadow is very fond of me? He "goes in and out with me".

What does that mean? It means he goes wherever I go.

What is "the use of him"? That "is more than I can see".

What is he like? He is just "like me from the heels up to the head".

What does he do when I go to bed? He jumps into bed "before me".


Now, children, four of you may each recite one line. What have you, Susie? "I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me."

What is the use of your shadow, John? "And what can be the use of him is more than I can see."

What is he like, Mary? "He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head."

When do you see him jump ahead of you? "And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed."

NOTE.—Each pupil's expression should reveal an active imagination and hearty response to the spirit of the selection. The whole should be very lifelike and real. Some pupil should be asked to recite or read the whole stanza.

Stanza II

What is there funny about the shadow? "The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow."

How is that? "He sometimes shoots up" very tall all at once, and then he dwindles down to nothing.

How would you expect him "to grow"? I would expect him "to grow" as I do.

How is that? Oh, that is "very slow".

The author says "like proper children". What does that mean? That means like real children.

What shows that he sometimes grows up very, very quickly? The poet says he "shoots up".

What other words tell the same thing? "Like an india-rubber ball."

How is that? The ball goes up quickly with a bounce, and the shadow seems to spring up in the same way.


Let two or three children read the stanza. In the first line, the voice should show how funny it all is; in the second, the demureness of the "proper" child and the slowness of the growth should be revealed in the reading; in the third and fourth lines, there should be an imitative response to the sudden up-growth of the shadow and to the childish surprise at his dwindling into nothing.

Memorization should be conducted as shown in Stanza I, above. There should be no evidence of task or effort in the recitation; it is very necessary that it be spontaneous and full of enjoyment for the pupils.

Stanza III

The shadow knows very little about one thing. What is that? He has no "notion of how children ought to play".

How does he "make a fool of me"? "In every sort of way."

Well, give one way. He mimics me.

Where does he stay? He stays right "close beside me".

Why does he do that? He does that because "he's a coward".

How would you feel about doing the same thing? I would feel ashamed of myself.

Reading and recitation of this stanza should now be conducted as indicated in Stanzas I and II, above.

Stanza IV

Did you ever manage to get away from your shadow? Yes, I did.

Tell us about how you did it. Well, "One morning, very early", I got up "before the sun" did, and went out in the flower garden. I looked around for my shadow, and I found he "had stayed at home behind me" in bed.

What is he called for doing that? He is called "an arrant sleepy-head".

Give another word in place of "arrant" that will mean the same thing. He was a thorough and shameless "sleepy-head".

What was the real cause of his staying behind? There was "none of him at all", because the sun was not up.

What will happen when the sun does come up? Then my shadow will suddenly show himself again.

Now, if you would like to have another stanza, telling about what happened when the sun came up, just try your best to write one.

Here is another that was written once at the end of the lesson:

But when the dear old sun came up above the trees, My frisky little shadow came out into the breeze; I didn't see him coming, but, when I turned around, His head was at the window, and he lay along the ground.


(Second Reader, page 21)


To enable the pupils to understand the beauty and pathos of the selection.

To arouse in them a sympathy for those who are weak.


How many of you like to play games? Everybody.

Name some of the games you play. Ball, tag, hide-and-seek, etc.

With whom do you like to play? With boys and girls of our own age.


Here is a story that tells about two people playing a game. (The selection is read aloud by the teacher.)

What is the story about? An "old lady" and a little boy playing "Hide-and-Go-Seek".

What relation were they? The old lady was the boy's "Grandma".

Let us look at the story again, and see if they enjoyed their game as much as you do yours. Is there anything in the first stanza that tells us they were having a good time? "The way that they played together was beautiful to see."

What was beautiful about it? They were so kind to each other. It was pleasant to see an old lady and a little boy having such a happy time playing together, and understanding each other so well.

How do you feel, as you read the second stanza? I feel sorry for the boy because he is lame.

Any other reason for feeling sorry for him? He is "thin", as though he had been sick a long time.

In what way are he and his Grandma alike? Neither of them can run or jump.

Do you feel more sorry for the Grandma or for the little boy? I feel more sorry for the boy, because he may never be able to run around, and his Grandma could when she was young.

Describe the picture you see in the third stanza. I see an old lady and a little boy sitting "under the maple tree". The little boy has a pair of crutches beside him. The "sunlight" is shining through the leaves, and it is a warm summer's day, or they would not be sitting out. There is a house near them.

What game were they playing? "Hide-and-Go-Seek."

Would you know it from looking at them? No, because they are sitting still, and when we play the game, we run around and hide.

How did they play it? They thought in turn of some place to hide and imagined they were hiding in it; they had three guesses to find out the place.

Whose turn was it to hide? The old lady's, because the boy is guessing where she is.

Where did he find her at last? In "Papa's big bed-room", in "the clothes-press".

Is there anything else spoken about that was in the bed-room? There was a "little cupboard".

Why does he mention the cupboard? He often thinks of it. He likes it.

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