Henry David Thoreau Lesson Plan

Connect American Transcendentalism to today's modern students in American Literature.

Henry David Thoreau is a staple in American Literature curriculum. Add this Henry David Thoreau lesson to your class discussions!

Taught during the transcendentalism time period, students analyze his writing and write about him. Other times they interpret what his writings mean in their lives. I’m always hunting for nonfiction resources to enhance American literature, so I was excited when I came across a modern story to add while teaching Thoreau.

I found some old papers and ran across a newspaper article (the old kind, with ink) about Thoreau. I then found the article online, too.

In Maine Trail Pays Tribute to Thoreau, Clarke Canfield writes about an effort to retrace Thoreau’s footsteps. (I think this Henry David Thoreau lesson could also be used with Google Earth.)

Teaching Transcendentalism or Henry David Thoreau? Add this free nonfiction piece to American Literature lesson plans.

A few ideas:

  • Have students read the nonfiction article before reading Thoreau. Ask them to write what they think a major theme in his work will be, making a nice anticipatory set for your Henry David Thoreau lesson.
  • Have students read the nonfiction article after reading Thoreau. Help them draw connections between the writing and the “tribute.”
  • What poetry would pair with this nonfiction? Pairing texts for students really shapes a literature unit.
The article is nonfiction and may help students understand that Thoreau is still relevant today. Teaching the American Transcendentalist time period is such an awesome way to reach students who may not typically care for literature. Also, science-minded students care deeply about the environment and enjoy the outdoors. They will perhaps see connections from American Transcendentalism in their lives today.
Finally, I teach American literature chronologically, starting with the Colonial and Revolutionary periods. I know that many ELA teachers work through literature thematically. What theme could you works with this Henry David Thoreau lesson?

Looking for more nonfiction resources, for free? Here is another one.


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