Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/813

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MOTHERS AND NATURAL SCIENCE.

laces; and the fairy spirit has a body; the crystal exists. But if the water is confined and has not room enough, why, these frail things break the bond, break the jug, break the giant rocks. If this story is well taught, the child's soul will bow before it in reverence. He will learn, too, one old but great lesson which may be applied in human affairs—"In union there is strength." The single ice crystal seems powerless; the many do mighty work.

If a mother is fond of chemistry, she has no less a field of work from the combustion of fuel and the burning of the evening lamp to the whole process of cooking, digesting, and assimilating food. Here, too, comes the question of the purity of air, water, and foods. A child may be taught to detect some impurities in all these, and also to test the safety of the colors in wall papers and in the fabrics used for clothing and furniture. These are but a few of the many topics close at hand for every mother fond of chemistry. Through all of this work in chemistry the mother has admirable opportunity to impress on the mind of the child the great economy of Nature. As the child sees the wax of the evening candle gradually disappear, he may be made to understand, by a few simple experiments, that some portion of the air is uniting with the wax; that invisible watery vapor and gas are produced and pass into the air; and that soot is given off. She is then prepared to believe Nature's great law—change, but no loss. The child, once impressed by this law, will find abundant illustrations of it, and will seek to know and understand the changes which produce the seeming losses so constantly occurring.

Perhaps some mother has a preference for astronomy. In warm evenings the little ones may sit out awhile to listen to stories about the stars. No subject is more delightful to a child. The little of the great truths which he can grasp will awaken and broaden his young mind and fill his tiny heart with noble and poetic sentiments.

Botany, zoology, and physiology will suggest fields of work as boundless as they are interesting. It is not necessary to suggest special lines of work in each; but let me urge that the intimate relations of everything studied to the life of man should be kept before the child, so as to cultivate that sympathetic interest which tends to produce gentleness and humanity toward all things. The song-bird rids his garden of insects, and the pretty wayside flower furnishes him medicine. By invisible but real bonds the life of man is united to the lowest animal and the smallest plant.

While it does not greatly matter where a mother begins, it does matter that, as she goes on, the child see relations clearly. Hence arrange the work in logical sequence, and branch off soon into other fields, that the little mind may have a natural, broad base on which to arrange its treasures of knowledge. All this,