Henry David Thoreau & Reflections on Nature Study

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Blog She Wrote: Implementing a Nature Study in Your HomeschoolThis post has affiliate links. Thanks for supporting the work at Blog, She Wrote!

Henry David Thoreau was a naturalist, philosopher, author, poet, and abolitionist among many other things. He also has a birthday on July 12, 1817.

As I read about Thoreau several things struck me. Mainly, the idea that just like today, there was discontent with government, development, and societal conventions and pressures. So often we like to think of the 19th century as a simple time, but it appears that those who lived in it did not believe it was so simple!

Thoreau was a transcendentalist along with quite a few famous literary folks in his peer group including: Bronson Alcott (Louisa’s father), Louisa May Alcott, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ellory Channing,and Margaret Fuller. He also knew Nathaniel Hawthorne. I’m pretty sure that sums up my reading list in 10th grade Survey of American Literature.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. – Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau, born David Henry Thoreau was a graduate of Harvard University and was morally opposed to an unjust state which led to essays such as Civil Disobedience. He was one of abolitionist John Brown’s only supporters and it was Thoreau’s persuasive influence that solidified Brown’s cultural impact.

However, his primary love and interest was the study of nature. He is credited with making observations and recordings on environmental history which led to modern day environmentalism. He kept detailed journals of botanical observations.

One of his most famous works, Walden, is the account of his time living on Walden Pond. He built a small cabin and lived there for two years. The book follows the season format of one year to include all his observations. Of course, classics are easily read with a few key strokes and little to no cost. I encourage you to read some of Thoreau’s works- no mobile device? Enjoy the titles on your desktop or laptop computer.

 Blog She Wrote: Implementing a Nature Study in Your Homeschool

Thoreau died in 1862 from complications of TB and then bronchitis which he contracted in the 1830s and suffered on and off from for many years. He was 44. His legacy came posthumously as people began to read through his essays and observations of nature. He influenced many foreign leaders and is considered one of America’s greatest classic authors.

In keeping with the reverence Thoreau had for nature, I thought it would be useful to share with you all how we do nature study lessons at our house. I’m often asked how I get my kids to do things like use watercolor pencils at the park. I’ve given it some thought and I’m ready to share!

Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.- Henry David Thoreau

How to Implement a Nature Study in Your Homeschool

I’ll be giving details to these overarching ideas over the next week or so. I hope you’ll join me!

  • Get Kids to Buy in to the Study of Nature
  • Take Frequent Excursions into Nature
  • Watch Your Own Backyard
  • Incorporate Nature Studies into Your Academics
  • Provide Resources So Your Kids Can Answer Their Own Questions and Learn More
  • Build Enthusiasm for the Experience
  • Educate Yourself on Nature Nearby & Easily Seen
  • Use Stories to Teach about Nature

Rather than give you all the details here, I think it makes more sense to share them in bite-sized, internet reading morsels. Stay tuned for the details! In fact, if you haven’t subscribed before, please consider it now so you don’t miss a post!


You might be interested in other birthday celebrations with the iHomeschool Network bloggers.

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    1. Well it is summer in the US so I guess it’s a good time to get out. If you aren’t in NY that is where it only rains these days!

      I think a lot of people have trouble figuring out how to make it happen when they don’t like it or any number of the kids don’t like it or the weather isn’t right or they can’t seem to get everyone excited about it. It’s easy to let go.

      Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some tips that work for people!

  1. This blog was great information! It helped get some important information on Henry David Thoreau that I didn’t know. I love to read poems and his writing is very unique with involving nature. I would never think of that! Those helpful tips of involving nature in studies really helps me understand what his writing was like and what he did. I need to go outside more and appreciate the beautiful nature that Henry has described.

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