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July 12

Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817.

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Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817.

Grades 1 – 12
Calendar Activity Type Author & Text





Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817. Thoreau is best known for his book Walden, which chronicles the two years that he lived in a small hut near the edge of Walden Pond.




Take your class on a nature walk near your school, or have them focus on a natural setting nearby. As students walk or view the setting, ask them to take note of the details of the surroundings and make a mental "snapshot" of the location in their minds.

Once they return to class, have students write their notes during a focused writing session, making sure to capture the details of the setting. After the initial writing session, students can revise and polish their writing and create a class booklet of the nature walk, using the ReadWriteThink Printing Press.



  • Poets.org: Henry David Thoreau

    This biography of Thoreau, published by the Academy of American Poets, links to a collection of online texts including Walden.

  • Walden Pond Exhibit

    After reading passages from Walden with your students, have them compare Thoreau's description of the pond with the photographs on this website.

  • American Transcendentalism Web: Henry David Thoreau

    This entry on Thoreau includes a complete biography with links to related materials and readings. The site provides extensive information about Thoreau, including links about his work as a surveyor and pencil maker.

  • How to Keep a Field Journal

    Students can keep a record of their own nature observations in a field journal, as described in this resource from the American Museum of Natural History. A number of diverse example pages, including drawings, charts, and narrative observations from the field journals of actual scientists, are included.


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Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Dr. Seuss's Sound Words: Playing with Phonics and Spelling

Boom! Br-r-ring! Cluck! Moo!—Everywhere you turn, you find exciting sounds. Students use these sounds to write their own poems based on Dr. Seuss's Mr. Brown Can MOO! Can You?


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

Nature Reflections: Interactive Language Practice for English-Language Learners

Students whose first language is not English reflect on nature through readings, a visit to a green area, and bookmaking using the writing process and peer feedback.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

Examining Transcendentalism through Popular Culture

Using excerpts from the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, comics, and songs from different musical genres, students examine the characteristics of transcendentalism.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Blogtopia: Blogging about Your Own Utopia

Students work together to create their own utopias, using blogs as the primary source of publication.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

Crit Lit for Kids: From Critical Consciousness to Service Learning

Students take their ideas from the classroom page to the community pavement when they participate in a service-learning project based on their multimedia presentations.


Grades   4 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Minilesson

Creative Writing in the Natural World: A Framing

Students practice writing detailed, sensory-rich descriptions by framing a small piece of nature and freewriting about it. From this minilesson, students can develop a variety of types of writing.