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Culture: Beliefs and Values #2: Henry Hikes to Fitchburg

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Lesson Overview:

This is a beautiful lesson about choices based on values.  Essentially, it asks the children to think about whether they would rather do work to earn money or have a long day exploring the natural world.  D.B. Johnson’s adaptation of the work of Henry David Thoreau is brilliant!  Students who have had a lot of outdoor experiences will have much to share in this lesson.  The lesson is also a great one for giving children the chance to make a decision and defend or explain their choice with evidence from the text.

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:



Identify personal values and beliefs of characters in a story using both textual and visual clues.

Suggested Time:

35-45 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each student will complete a T-Chart that will help them draw conclusions about the characters.  The T-Chart will also give them material to structure their thinking and reflect on a few of their own values.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Every day when I come to school I have to decide whether to come by a) car b) bicycle or c)  train.  I have choices.  Sometimes my choice depends on the weather or how I am feeling.  But, most of the time the choice I make depends on my values.

In today’s story, two characters have to make a choice and they choose very different ways of accomplishing the same thing.  Listen carefully.  Keep track of what the characters do.  See if you can figure out what each character values based on his actions.

2. Main:

Show the text.  Pass out the assignment.  Go over the instructions together.

Teach the story, allowing kids to fill in the T-Chart and take simple notes.  Scribe for them on a flipchart so that they do not get hung up on spellings

Down one side, list the chores done by Henry’s friend.  Down the other side, list the adventures Henry has on his hike.

3. Conclusion:

Ask the students if they think each of the friends was satisfied with his choices.  Then complete the first two questions together:  What did Henry’s friend value?  What did Henry value?  Talk about it and give the kids a moment to answer these questions.

Finally, ask the students to think about what they would choose if faced with the same decision.  Would they work to earn money for a ticket or would they walk?  Have them write their answers (or discuss their answer with an elbow partner if you are running short on time).  This is a great reflection/thinking question.  After the story, the children should have enough ideas and evidence to form a convincing opinion.

additional Resources:
  1. Henry Hikes to Fitchburg by D.B. Johnson.
  2. Flipchart
  3. Markers
  4. Copies of the student handout
  5. Pencils
  6. Clipboards

Johnson’s book is a children’s adaptation of some of the work of Henry David Thoreau.  Johnson’s other books in the Henry series evoke the ideas in Walden beautifully and effectively.   I am a huge fan of the Henry series and find that the texts adapt for many purposes.  For example, I use Henry Hikes to Fitchburg for lessons on:

  • Beliefs and values
  • Transportation
  • Business/Economics

Also note that a lot of today’s children do not have experience completing these simple chores.  I am often shocked at how few of them have swept out a room.  Be careful with parts like “cleaning the henhouse.”  Most kids think that that means collecting eggs!

Key Terms:

Values, Beliefs, Transportation, Trains, Chores, Walden, Henry David Thoreau, Nature, Industry, Money, Business and Economics

recommended texts:
  1. Henry Hikes to Fitchburg by D.B. Johnson.
student handout:

Student Handout. Henry Hikes to Fitchburg

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