Chambers's Elementary Science Readers - Book I
Author: Various
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Write and learn:

Bricks are— Made of clay. Shaped in moulds. Baked in a kiln.

Bricks are— Not so heavy as stone. Hard. Oblong.

Bricks are used— For building. For ornament.

THE DONKEY. [Page 53.

1. The donkey is a useful animal when well treated. It is cheaper to buy and to keep than a pony.

2. The donkey has hoofs like the horse, and wears shoes. It is very patient and gentle, and can do with coarse food.

3. The donkey's coat is rough, and its mane short. It has a black stripe down its back and across its shoulders. Its head and ears are very long.

4. The donkey can climb high rugged paths better than the horse. It can also carry heavy loads up hill, because it is strong and sure-footed.

Write and learn:

The donkey has— Hoofed feet. Long ears. A shaggy coat. A short mane.

The donkey is— Strong. Sure-footed. Gentle. Patient.

The donkey likes— Hay. Grass. Thistles. Carrots.

SHEEP. [Page 55.

1. Sheep live mostly in the fields. They often climb very high hills. Their feet are not like the donkey's; they are cloven, like the cow's.

2. Their legs are so slender that their bodies seem almost too large for them. The thick wool which grows upon them makes them look large.

3. Sheep eat grass. They tear it off, as the cow does. They cannot bite, since they have no front teeth in the upper jaw.

4. They are very timid, gentle creatures. They do not like to be alone. They live in flocks. They make a great noise when bleating.

5. Sheep are very useful. Their flesh gives us mutton; their wool makes clothing; their skin makes leather.

Write and Learn:

Sheep have— Cloven hoofs. Slender legs. Thick wool.

Sheep are— Gentle. Timid. Climbers.

Sheep give us— Food. Clothing. Leather.

TURNIPS. [Page 59.

1. Turnips are grown both in fields and gardens. The tops are green. The turnip is almost round; but it tapers towards the bottom. Most of the turnip grows under ground; but we can see part of it above ground when nearly ripe.

2. Turnips are good for food. Sheep and cattle are fond of them. Animals eat them raw. We boil them. Raw turnips are not good for us. Pigs will eat the rinds which we peel off.

3. Turnips are white or yellow, sweet, juicy, wholesome.

Write and learn:

Turnips are— White or yellow. Sweet. Wholesome.

Turnips have— Roots. Green tops. Thick rinds.

Turnips are eaten— By man. By animals. Mostly in winter.

GREEN PEAS. [Page 62.

1. The pea is a climbing plant. We put tall sticks in the garden for the peas to climb. They grow from seeds which are dried peas.

2. As they grow, tendrils shoot out and take hold of the sticks. Pretty green leaves grow too. Then come the dainty white flowers.

3. When the flowers wither, they leave little green pods. Inside the pods are little green peas. Peas and pods grow larger each day until ripe.

4. Peas are very good for food. Pigs like the husks.

Write and learn:

Peas have— Roots. Tendrils. Flowers.

Peas— Climb. Grow from seed. Hold by tendrils.

Peas grow— In gardens. In fields. In summer.


1. Metals are made from ores which are dug out of the earth. These ores are found in many parts of the world. Iron is the most common, as well as the most useful metal.

2. Many things we use are made of it. The steel of which our knives, tools, and other things are made, is made from iron. Iron is largely used for making bridges, railings, fire-grates, hammers.

3. Lead, copper, tin, and zinc are metals also. So are silver and gold.

4. Men must dig deep down into the earth to find them. The holes and passages which they make are called mines.

5. All metals are heavy. All will melt in great heat, and all can be hammered out into thin sheets or drawn out into wire.

Write and learn:

Metals are— Heavy. Useful. Plentiful.

Metals can be— Melted. Hammered out. Polished.

The common metals are— Iron. Lead. Tin and copper.

NEEDLES. [Page 71.

1. Needles are made of steel wire. In a needle-factory there are hundreds of coils of wire. Some of the wire is thick enough for darning-needles; some very thin for making sewing-needles.

2. The wire is cut by a machine. The needles are pointed on a grindstone. The eyes are punched by another machine. Then the needles are filed to make them smooth.

3. To make them hard, the needles are made white-hot, and put into cold water until quite cool. They are then cleaned and polished.

4. They must be very dry before put into packets, or they will rust.

5. Many boys and girls, as well as men and women, work in needle-factories.

Write and learn:

Needles are— Smooth. Bright. Pointed.

Needles have— Eyes. Shanks. Points.

Needles are used— For sewing. For darning. For other work.

THE KNIFE. [Page 80.

1. A knife is most useful for cutting. The blade is made of steel; the handle of ivory, bone, or wood.

2. The blade and handle are fastened together by a long, thin piece of iron which goes into the handle. The blades have to be heated as needles are, to make them hard.

3. A knife is blunt on one edge; sharp on the other. The grinder sharpens it on a huge stone which goes round and round. The blades are polished before being put into the handles, as well as after.

4. There are many kinds of knives. Pocket-knives have a spring to make them shut tightly. A table-knife is rounded at the end; the carving-knife has a sharp pointed blade.

Write and learn:

Knives are— Sharp. Bright. Useful.

Knives have— Blades. Handles. Springs.

Knives are made— In Sheffield.

THE HEN. [Page 83.

1. The hen is a domestic bird. Some are white; some black; others many colours. The hen finds much of its own food in the fields. It is fed with barley, bread, potatoes, and other things from the house.

2. The hen has a small head with eyes at the sides. Its bill is strong and sharp.

3. The hen sleeps on a perch on one leg. It never falls off; its foot is made for grasping.

4. Hens are useful for the eggs they give us; and they are also good for food. Their feathers, too, are useful.

Write and learn:

The hen has— A small head. A strong bill. A grasping foot.

The hen is— A domestic bird. A percher. Useful.

The hen gives us— Eggs. Food. Feathers.

THE SPARROW. [Page 86.

1. The sparrow is a small bird with brown and gray feathers. It builds its nest on our houses, and sometimes in the pipes which carry the rain off the roof. A sparrow's nest is seldom found in a tree. It lays five or six eggs which are spotted with brown.

2. Farmers often kill sparrows because they steal the corn and fruit. But they are really good friends to the farmer. They eat the worms and grubs, which would destroy all the fruit.

3. The sparrow is a very bold little bird, and is to be found in the streets of the largest towns as well as in the country.

Write and learn:

The sparrow has— Brown and gray feathers. Sharp claws. A long tail.

The sparrow is— Small. Bold. Useful.

The sparrow eats— Grain. Worms. Fruit.

HERBS. [Page 90.

1. Herbs are plants or vegetables with soft stalks or stems. Some grow wild, others we grow in our gardens.

2. We use some for eating, such as mustard and cress. Others, such as parsley, mint, sage, and thyme, we use to flavour our food. Many are used as medicine.

3. Most herbs have a nice scent. They are very plentiful, and very useful.

Write and learn:

Herbs have— Soft stems. Nice scent. Strong flavour.

Herbs are— Plentiful. Useful. Grown from seeds.

Herbs are used— For eating. For flavouring. For medicine.

COFFEE [Page 93.

1. We get coffee from the coffee-tree. It is an evergreen, something like our bay-tree. It bears a pretty white flower.

2. When the flower falls it leaves a red berry, something like a cherry. The two hard, oval seeds inside it are what we call coffee beans. They are of a pale colour in the berry, but are roasted to make them brown.

3. Coffee is good to drink, but it is not so cheap as tea. It grows in warm countries far away—in Arabia and the West Indies chiefly.

Write and learn:

The Coffee-tree— Is an evergreen. Has white flowers. Has a red berry.

Coffee is— Good to drink. Warming. Not so cheap as tea.

Coffee grows— In Arabia. In the West Indies. In Brazil.

PAPER. [Page 96.

1. Paper is one of the most useful things we have. It is made of old rags which are torn to pieces by a machine. Lime is put in to make them white.

2. The pulp, as it is called, is then formed into sheets and pressed. It is then covered with size, and pressed again to make it smooth and glossy.

3. Blotting-paper and other kinds not used for writing upon, are not sized. Brown paper is made of old canvas and sacking.

4. Before paper was made, people used to write upon the inner bark of trees, and the thin skins of animals made sweet and dry, and called parchment.

Write and learn:

Writing-paper is— Smooth. Glossy. Fine.

Blotting-paper is— Soft. Unglazed. Porous.

Brown paper is— Coarse. Strong. Used for parcels.

THE FLY. [Page 99.

1. The fly is a wonderful little insect. It has six legs, with such curious feet that it can walk on the window-panes or the ceiling.

2. It has a funny little round head. Its eyes stand out so that it can see round about it. It cannot move its eyes as we do. Neither can it bite its food—it sucks it.

3. The fly teases us in summer. It gets into our sugar, milk, treacle, and honey. Then it makes marks upon our windows and other things.

4. Its wings are very pretty. When they get wet it cannot fly. The noise flies make is called buzzing.

Write and learn:

Flies have— Six legs. Curious feet. Fixed eyes.

Flies— Buzz. Lay tiny eggs. Suck their food.

Flies like— Sugar. Honey. Milk.

THE WASP. [Page 102.

1. A wasp is a very pretty insect, black and yellow in colour. There are several kinds. Some burrow in the ground and make their nests there. Others build their nests in trees.

2. Wasps live together in large numbers. They are very busy. Some lay eggs; some are masons, and build the nest; others are soldiers, and guard the home; whilst others carry away all the rubbish, and keep everything clean and tidy.

3. The wasp's sting has poison in it. This is why it gives us such pain if we get stung.

4. The wasp is something like the fly in shape, only much larger. It preys upon other insects.

Write and learn:

The Wasp has— Six legs. Four wings. A sharp sting.

The Wasp— Makes a nest. Works hard. Sleeps all winter.

The Wasp likes— Insects. Meat. Sweet things.


1. This flower is called sun-flower because it always turns its face to the sun. It turns as the sun goes round.

2. The sunflower grows on a strong, tall stalk. It is something like a daisy in form.

3. The deep-yellow leaves stand out in rays from the dark-coloured middle of the flower, which is called the disk. This disk is made of a large number of tiny flowers closely packed together.

4. The seeds of this flower are large and oblong, and contain oil.

5. Bees and flies visit sunflowers, to gather honey.

Write and learn:

The sunflower has— A strong stalk. A large disk. Many rays.

The sunflower— Grows from seed. Contains honey. Turns to the sun.

The sunflower has— Small flowers in its disk. Oblong seeds. Oily seed.

THE ROSE. [Page 108.

1. Roses are of many kinds and many colours. Most of them are sweet-scented. Some rose-bushes do not grow very high. Others grow up as high as our houses.

2. Roses have thorns on their stems. Wild roses have many thorns. Wild roses are small—have only five leaves—but they are very pretty.

3. When they die they leave berries, called hips, which make good food for the birds in winter. There are seeds in them.

Write and learn:

The rose has— A sweet scent. Sharp thorns on its stem. Soft, smooth leaves.

The rose is— Sometimes white. Sometimes yellow. Sometimes red.

The wild rose— Grows in hedges. Has five leaves. Has berries called 'hips.'

WOOD. [Page 111.

1. Wood seems to be almost as useful as iron. Hundreds of years ago, houses were built of wood. All the houses in London were. There is much wood in our houses now.

2. There are many kinds of wood—each comes from a different tree. Oak is a very hard wood. Pine is softer. Willow is very soft; its thin branches will bend easily. It is used for making baskets.

3. When the trunk of a tree is sawn into planks we can see the grain or marks in it. Some are very prettily marked. Oak and walnut are. Wood can be highly polished.

Write and learn:

Wood grows— In most countries. In forests. Plentifully.

Wood is— Very useful. Mostly hard. Grained.

Wood is used for— Building purposes. Furniture. Fires.

COAL. [Page 113.

1. Coal is dug out of the earth. Coal and iron are found together. But coal is not a metal as iron is. It will not melt. We call it a mineral.

2. It is found in many parts of the world. There is a very large quantity in our own country.

3. It is a black, shiny, opaque, and brittle mineral. Men have to go deep down into the earth, into mines, to get it. They are in great danger.

4. Coals were once forests, which sank lower and lower into the earth hundreds and thousands of years ago. They became mixed with other things, and in time were changed to coal. We can see the grain in some of the coal, as we see it in wood.

Write and learn:

Coal is— A Mineral. Black. Opaque. Brittle.

Coal is— Buried forests. Got from mines. Heavy. Grained.

Coal is used for— Fuel. Smelting metals. Making gas. Making tar.

FIRE. [Page 119.

1. Fire is useful but dangerous. A spark from it might set a house on fire. We ought to be very careful about it. Children should never play with fire.

2. It is so useful that we should not be able to have many things we have, if we had no fire.

3. When England was covered with forests, hundreds of years ago, people used to have fires of wood, instead of coal. Wood-fires are not so smoky as those made of coal, but they are not so hot.

Write and learn:

Fire is— Useful. Dangerous. A good servant. A bad master.

Fire— Burns. Smokes. Makes flame. Gives heat.

Fire— Warms our houses. Cooks our food. Makes water into steam. Makes soot.


Edinburgh: Printed by W. & R. Chambers, Limited.

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