Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Love Will Guide Us: A Program for Grades 2-3 that Applies the Wisdom of the Six Sources to the Big Questions

Alternate Activity 4: Transcendentalism in Picture Books

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Copies of any or all the Henry picture books by D.B. Johnson: Henry Hikes to Fitchburg, Henry Works, Henry Builds a Cabin, Henry's Night, and Henry Climbs a Mountain

Preparation for Activity

  • Obtain picture books from your local library or purchase them (available online from Amazon).

Description of Activity

The experiences of Henry, the bear in these picture books, are based on the life of Unitarian Transcendentalist author Henry David Thoreau. Sharing a few of the stories at one sitting gives participants a sense of how Transcendentalism shapes a lifestyle.

Gather in a circle and read the stories. Debrief with questions such as:

  • Why do you suppose Henry ... (Based on the stories you read, fill in the blanks with: ...walked to Fitchburg instead of taking the train? ...built a small cabin in the woods instead of a big house? ...didn't pay his taxes? by walking?)
  • Does Henry do things differently than most people today? What's different?
  • How does Henry like to live?
  • Do you think you might like to live that way? Why?