The Walden Woods Project has a rich collection of curriculum units. These units were created by teachers who have attended our summer professional development seminars (who have given their permission to have them shared here). Most are intended for a high school audience (exception noted below). They are organized by theme or audience (though, due to the interdisciplinary and rich nature of Thoreau as subject matter, many units could easily fit into more than one category).
Please let us know if you use any of the lessons found here, including any modifications you might have made!
- Elementary Level
This collection of units is especially for elementary school-age students, allowing them to learn about Thoreau and his ideas, but through more age-appropriate texts and activities.
- English as Second Language
This collection of units is rooted in the intention of exploring new places, languages, cultures, all through Thoreau’s words or philosophies.
- Interdisciplinary Lessons
This collection of units centers around the intersection of writing and history, or science and artwork, etc. It conjoins subjects and ideas, filling lessons with creativity and expansive thinking.
- Life Skills
This collection of units offers a Thoreauvian approach to the transition from childhood to adulthood, and how to help students navigate this process.
- Literary Connections
This collection offers over 20 units for connecting Thoreau’s ideas with the ideas of others’. This collection touches upon the writings of Harper Lee, J.D. Salinger, Robert Frost, Amiri Baraka, and many more.
- Middle School Units
This collection of units is especially for middle school-age students, allowing them to learn about Thoreau and his ideas, but through more age-appropriate texts and activities.
- Place-Based Units
This collection of units is informed by the approach of place-based education, allowing teachers to utilize local resources as fodder for their lesson plans. (For information about PBE, follow this link.)
- Relationship with Nature
This collection of units covers the ideas and ideals of Nature, the Wild, American Wilderness, and more. Through texts and other resources, educators allow students to relate to and interact with nature in new ways.
- Role of the Individual
These units apply Thoreau’s writings and ideas of other empowered historical figures to create in their students individualistic mantras and goals.
- Sense of Place
One master theme of Walden is finding and nourishing a “sense of place.” Carrying this idea into the modern classroom, these units encourage students to identify and expand their own senses of place.
- Special Education
A collection of units especially created for students with alternative learning needs, this is an accessible variety of Thoreau-inspired lesson plans for all students.
- Thoreau and Transcendentalism
The Transcendentalist philosophy may be far from its roots in our technology-based societies, however the values of Transcendentalism continue to flourish. See how they can be applied in this collection of units.