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Grades 2 - 3
John Muir: One Person Who Made a Difference

Unit Concept:

John Muir had many experiences which gave him the vision to save wilderness areas.


In at least two 45- to 50-minute sessions, students will observe the natural world, make journal entries, and create booklets about John Muir.


  1. Use journals or notebooks the students may already be using. If journals are not in use, staple lined paper onto cardboard with a construction paper cover for students to decorate. Have pencils ready to use.

  2. Make a sample copy of the booklet John Muir: One Person Who Made A Difference , and copy a page for each student. Print on both sides of the paper with the top sides up. Cut sheets in half horizontally.


  1. Let the children know that John Muir was "One Person Who Made a Difference," and explain how carefully and quietly he would observe nature and record in his journal with writings and drawings. Determine the boundaries outdoors for a special nature spot and prepare the students for observing, writing, and sketching living things. Ask the students what kinds of life they think they will see outside.

  2. Take the children outside and allow 5-15 minutes for observations and recordings. Take a journal yourself to serve as an example. Upon returning, ask for volunteers to share from their work and see if they can persuade their peers to make a positive difference in the area they observed.

  3. Make the John Muir booklets. Students put the pages in order; helpers staple the booklets.

  4. Read the stories with the children. Ask students which stories are their favorites and whether they have had similar experiences.


  1. Extend the work for third grade by exploring the native people John Muir met in Alaska . Ask how their lifestyles may have influenced John Muir's views on nature and his vision for conservation.

  2. Sing This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie from Rise Up Singing and compare the different living things in the ecosystems in this song.

  3. Identify special places outdoors to protect. Students might adopt a spot to keep free of litter and weeds or to plant wildflowers. Plan visitations each season and keep records of how their special spot changes with the weather and the seasons, and note whether different wildlife live there at different times of the year. Remind students that John Muir kept track of his observations in his journal over many years and that his journal was the basis of his written and oral work.

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