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Preschool Philosophy: Fun with Thoreau (page 2)

Preschool Philosophy: Fun with Thoreau

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Updated on May 15, 2014

Thoreau the Naturalist Above all, Thoreau loved nature and was passionate about walking. A nature walk in the spirit of Thoreau is an activity that could work equally well in a backyard, a park, or a botanical garden—anywhere outdoors will do. Children can identify plants, watch birds and talk about how the environment where they live is different from or similar to the New England of Thoreau's Walden Pond. The natural world is at once engaging and novel to children, and it will not be difficult to keep even the ever-fickle attention of a preschooler on the hike. Easy games like "I spy" can enhance the walk for any age group, and older kids may want to bring along sketch pads or a camera to depict and catalog finds for later. With some advance preparation, a nature hike could even be turned into a visual scavenger hunt for older kids (provided they understand the maxim "Take only pictures, leave only footprints").

The nature hike also provides a great opportunity to share ideas on caring for nature, such as throwing away garbage and recycling cans, plastics and paper products. You may want to discuss what can be recycled and what can't, or perhaps create a sorting game.

Thoreau the Music Lover Thoreau loved music as well as nature. His aptitude for singing and playing flute is well documented in his journals and correspondence. His 1820 flute, probably originally owned by his brother, John, is on display at the Concord Museum and can be viewed online by searching the museum's Thoreau Collection.

Making a "flute" out of simple materials is easy and a fun way to let children connect with Thoreau's love of music. To make this instrument, you will need a cardboard roll (anything from a toilet paper roll to a wrapping paper roll will do), scissors, waxed paper, a rubber band and a pencil.

Children may first want to decorate their cardboard roll using crayons, markers or stickers. Following this, mark off about 3-7 holes on the roll (the body of the instrument) about an inch apart. Using scissors or a sharp pencil, cut these out so that each hole can be easily covered by a finger.

Now cut a piece of wax paper at least 4 inches square. Attach it using the rubber band to one end of the "flute". Humming into the open end of the tube will create a kazoo-like effect, and children can experiment with different notes through varying finger placement on the holes.

While Thoreau's ideas may seem too big for the mind of a child, who better than a young person to understand the wisdom of a man celebrated for living simply?

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