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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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Activities & Projects

Grades   3 – 5  |  Activity & Project

Explore and Write About Nature

In this activity, children look closely at living things in their natural environments and then make books about what they see.


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Grades   3 – 5  |  Printout  |  Writing It Out

My Nature Story

Encourage children to ask questions about the natural world, to make observations, and to use their imaginations. They use their findings to create their own book.


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