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I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. – Henry David Thoreau


Connecting our human homes to nature is something we often try to accomplish. Whether by use of houseplants and fish tanks inside our homes or by using our yard to portray beauty, we immerse ourselves in the healing power of natural surroundings.

This week the children explored the life of Henry David Thoreau and had their own experiences of observing and appreciating nature.


Henry David Thoreau built himself a cottage on Walden Pond because he wished to simplify his life. Does your family feel that life is too complicated? Do family members feel they have enough time to sit and observe life, or does it feel as if between the mandatory activities such as school, work and chores and the optional activities such as sports or arts you continually rush from one thing to the next? How does your family slow down and take time together? Are there moments such as a Saturday morning, some time after dinner on weeknights, or another time during the week when you could carve out some “slow” time?


A Family Game

A fun way to practice being a nature observer is to play outdoor “I Spy.” Take turns choosing some natural item that you can see in your yard or at a park. Questioners try to guess the item by asking questions of the person who has chosen the item. You may be surprised by what you find in your back yard if you look for something near-to-hand that is not immediately obvious!

A Family Adventure

Today in Creating Home the children took time to do a picture journal, recording their observations of nature. You may wish to go on a family adventure to a nearby regional park to observe nature there. What is the tiniest plant or animal you can find? What is the largest? If you have a portable audio recorder you may wish to create an audio journal of birdsongs or other natural sounds.


Have a look at a wonderful children’s computer experience with Henry David Thoreau.

There is abundant information online about organic foods and health for children.

Children’s books on Henry David Thoreau:

Henry David’s House by Henry David Thoreau, edited by Steven Schnur (Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2002)

A Mind with Wings: The Story of Henry David Thoreau by Gerald Hausman and Loretta Hausman (Trumpeter, 2006)

New Suns Will Arise: From the Journals of Henry David Thoreau by Henry David Thoreau, John Dugdale, and Frank Crocitto (Hyperion Press, 2000)

Henry Hikes to Fitchburg written and illustrated by D.B. Johnson (Houghton Mifflin, 2000)

Henry David Thoreau: In Step with Nature by Elizabeth Ring (Millbrook Press, 1993)

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