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John Muir: from here to there

Subject area: Health and wellbeing, social studies, sciences

Experiences and outcomes: HWB 2-25a, SOC 2-08a, SCN 2-01a

The aim of this lesson is for your class to plan and then embark on their own mini journeys of discovery (as a school trip or during their holidays), along a suitable path in your locality. Their journeys should include some or all of the following:

Before you begin, ask your class to look through the John Muir graphic novel and read the I Will Walk One Thousand Miles section, up to page 69, where John Muir describes himself as follows:

'I was like a man lost in the desert who finds an oasis and must drink. But I was thirsty for the whole world! I wanted to jump into it and immerse myself in its wonders. So I went on a thousand-mile walk to drink in the grand show of nature.

John Muir: I'll follow my nose. The wind is full of haunting, unknown scents. . . strange animal cries. . . beautiful new plants and flowers. . .'

Did you know?

Many of the trails that John Muir followed through the Sierra Nevada mountains were mountain passes and trails established by Native American tribes. Sierra Nevada was originally called Pamidu Toiyabe by the native Paiute or Nüümü, meaning Western Mountains. These mountains were regularly traversed by neighbouring tribes from the valleys for trade and for ceremonies. Each tribe had a name in it's own language for the mountain passes and trails. 

The John Muir Way

Explain to your class that in Scotland, in April 2014, as part of the centenary of John Muir's death, and in order to celebrate his life, the John Muir Way was extended. This long-distance path was especially created to encourage young and old to not only recognise and appreciate John Muir but also the native land he loved, by journeying across it in the same way as John Muir did, during his life.

Print the From Here to There worksheet for your class to complete.

The information on the worksheet covers some of the places in Scotland that link to John Muir when he was a boy and/or when he returned to Scotland as an adult.

Use the Paths for all website(this link will open in a new window) to help your pupil do additional research on walks and trails in your area.  Journey preparations

Once you have discussed and agreed with your pupils where their individual mini journeys will start and finish (during their holidays) or you have agreed where you will all go collectively as a school trip, begin the second part of this activity. Your pupils should make a list of 'preparations' for their journey (refer to the From Here to There worksheet).

The journey

During the journey your class should create an annotated map of the path they are following and write down, photograph or draw symbols to represent what they see on their journey.

Once the journeys have finished, provide your class access to the following web links.

Reflecting on learning

Did learners know that, traditionally, maps included symbols for trees, bridges, houses, parkland, rivers, etc., rather than just roads, which is commonplace today?

Learners can:

Useful resources

To expand this activity get your pupils to create a podcast of their walk describing what someone listening to their podcast and completing their mini journey should look out for, see and hear along the route.

For other additional activity ideas that would complement this work go to Paths for All(this link will open in a new window).