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A Teacher's Guide

Henry Hikes to Fitchburg

About the Book

Henry David Thoreau would maintain that going to Fitchburg was more important than getting to Fitchburg. He wrote, "Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of each." He believed that we should take advantage of every opportunity, every moment, and that we should enjoy our journeys, not just our destinations.

Along the way to Fitchburg, Henry hopped a river, carved a stick, pressed flowers, climbed a tree, paddled on the river, found a bird's nest, ate some honey, went for a swim, and ate his way through a blackberry patch. His friend, on the other hand, got to Fitchburg by working all day to earn the fare for the train. Though they both reached the destination at about the same time, who do your students think had the more enjoyable day?

Henry stops to pull ferns and flowers and presses them in a book. Collect flowers with your class, then press them for cards or pictures.

Materials Needed

• Flowers, ferns, and leaves
• Old phone book
• Bricks or heavy books
• Paper towels
• Card–stock paper or oak tag
• Glue stick
• Tweezers
• Plastic wrap


Collect flowers that have small, flat blooms, such as impatiens, pansies, or buttercups (include stems and leaves). Pick small delicate leaves, such as ferns and clover. It is best not to collect your flowers and leaves in the morning because they will be covered with dew and take longer to dry.

Place the flower and leaf collection on two sheets of paper towels, cover them with two more sheets, and then place them between the pages of the phone book.

Set the phone book aside in a cool place and weigh it down with bricks or other heavy books.

After about a week, replace the paper towels and repress the flowers. Let another week pass. If the flowers are not dry, replace the paper towels again. When the flowers are completely dry, you and your students will be ready to make cards and flower pictures.

Using the tweezers, carefully arrange the flowers, ferns, and leaves on the oak tag. When you're satisfied with the placement, remove the flowers one at a time and dab the back of the flowers with the glue stick. Place the flowers back on the card. When all of the flowers have been glued in place, cover the picture with a piece of plastic wrap cut larger than the oak tag. Wrap the extra plastic around the picture to protect it. Place some of the heavy books onto the picture and wait about thirty minutes for the glue to dry completely.

Make a display of the class's work.

Thoreau hiked thirty miles through the countryside to Fitchburg. What would your students encounter on a thirty-mile hike from your school? Using a road map and a compass, place your school in the center and measure out a circle with a diameter of thirty miles. What are some destinations that are about thirty miles away? Pick one and plan out a route to get there. What towns will your students pass through? What natural areas will they cross? What points of interest will they encounter?

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