Handbook of Nature Study years ago, before my first child was officially school age. The big book seemed homeschooly and solid - I really like owning it. I browsed through the book myself and loved what I read, and then I set it on the bookshelf.
A couple of years later, my kids found a salamander in the park and we brought it home for a couple of days to study. Something inspired me to pull out the Handbook of Nature Study, and I found a section about salamanders. I read the section with the kids and we were charmed by the writing, and then I set the book back on the bookshelf.
It sat there for years. Seven years, maybe? Could it be that long? I told people I loved the book, but yet I never bothered using it myself.
When I rearranged my bookshelf recently, I dusted off the book and was about to set it back on the shelf to sit for another seven years when I decided to browse through it while taking a coffee break. Once again, I read sections of the book and loved the readings, and this time I didn't put the book back on the shelf. I set it on the kitchen table.
In the past couple of weeks we've read through the chapter on weather and learned to read a weather map. We got a thermometer and barometer and have been making notes on the weather. We combined the old-fashioned Handbook of Nature Studies with the internet and pulled up weather maps every morning to track the highs and lows and to try our hands at forecasting. The kids have illustrated their written narrations about the weather in their science notebooks. (See the weather chapter free online.)
In the lingering winter weather that is turning into spring, we've been noticing the crocus coming up in gardens in our neighborhood. During lunch today, we read about crocus in the Handbook of Nature Study. (See the crocus section free online.)
Taking the book off the book shelf put me into the habit of actually using it. I liked how homeschooly the big book looked on my shelf, I admit, but now that it's getting dog-eared and coffee-stained on my kitchen table, I like it much better.
Photo: A dance performance on a boat on a pier on the Hudson River. The weather that day, several years ago, was windy.