Henry David Thoreau was a writer who gathered his ideas and inspiration from the world around him. His friend Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The length of [Henry's] walk uniformly made the length of his writing. If shut up in the house, he did not write at all.”
Henry’s walk to work is inseparable from his work itself. As he walks, he takes in all of nature around him. When he gets back home, he has everything he needs to do his job: to write.
Henry keeps a journal of what he sees and what he feels. Your students can do the same. With your students’ journals in hand, take a trip to your local nature preserve. Walk the paths. Sit and think. Take in the sights, noises, and smells. Experience what nature has to offer. Then, the children should go to work, just like Henry, and write about the nature they see and the thoughts that come into their minds.
Put their writings together into a class journal titled “Thoughts on a Nature Walk.”
On Henry’s walk to work, he helped his neighbors: Mrs. Hosmer, the postmaster; Emerson; Mrs. Alcott; and Mrs. Hawthorne. He also put a crossing stone in place in the river and watered the milkweed in the field. Your students can do things for their neighbors and community, as well. Organize the cleanup of a local park, visit a senior citizen center and help out, plant a flower or vegetable garden on the school grounds, participate in a walkathon or readathon in support of a community cause. Brainstorm other possibilities with your class.