John Muir Lesson Plans

There are so many wonderful directions you can go with a study on John Muir!  Our top recommendations are to study his life, his writings, and his travels; Yosemite National Park; and to start a nature journal if you don’t already have one.  Here are a few ideas to get you started in those areas!

Don't have the letter yet?  You can grab the snail mail version here or the digital version here!

You can grab your free downloads to go along with the John Muir letter here!

For All Ages


National Park Service Biography of John Muir






Middle School/High School & Beyond

One Week with John Muir

Here's a one week guide to learning all about John Muir:

Day 1: Read about John Muir

Read the Heritage Letter from John Muir

Read books about John Muir (depending on how many books you have, you could space them out over the week)

Watch the National Park Service Biography of John Muir (see above under Movie/Video)

Day 2: Mapping

Use the map included with your John Muir letter to find all of the locations mentioned in the letter:

  • Upper Yosemite Fall
  • Yosemite Valley
  • Sentinel Rock
  • Eagle Peak
  • El Capitan
  • Ribbon Fall
  • Ribbon Creek Basin
  • Big Oak Flat Stage Road
  • Foot of El Capitan
  • Cathedral Peak
  • Mount Hoffman
  • Mount Dana
  • Vernal Falls
  • Nevada Falls

Use a world and US map to find other locations that were important to John Muir:

  • His birthplace in Dunbar, Scotland
  • His family home, Fountain Lake Farm, near Portage, Wisconsin
  • Indianapolis, Indiana where he worked in a wagon wheel factory and received the eye injury that led him to devote his life to nature study
  • His 1867 1000-Mile Walk from Indiana to Florida (Kentucky,Tennessee, Georgia, Florida)
  • His travels in 1868 to Cuba, New York City, the Isthmus of Panama, and finally to San Francisco, California
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Alaska
  • Martinez, California where he lived and worked on his wife’s family farm
  • Locations from his 1904 trip around the world:
    • London
    • Paris
    • Finland
    • Russia
    • Korea
    • China
    • India
    • Egypt
    • Australia
    • New Zealand
    • Philippines
    • China
    • Japan
    • Hawaii
  • His 1911 travels to South America and Africa
    • Amazon
    • Uruguay
    • Argentina
    • Chile
    • Cape Town
    • Victoria Falls
    • Headwaters of the Nile River
    • Mombasa
    • By sea via the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden, through the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean, and across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City
  • Los Angeles, California where he died

    Day 3: Draw a Map & Create an Itinerary

    Draw a map of your property or a favorite local or National Park that you’ve visited or plan to visit soon.  Create an itinerary of the places you would take someone to visit if you were their tour guide.  If drawing a map is too time consuming, print off a map of a local or National Park that you can find online then create an itinerary of stops for that park.   

    Day 4: Nature Walk and Journaling

    John Muir kept a nature journal in which he detailed all of his notes about the nature around him.  Go for a nature walk and see what things you notice.  Is there something new in bloom?  Did you see any animals?  If it has rained recently, do you see any erosion or evidence of where water drained to fill a pond, creek, or river?  Pick one thing from your observations to draw.  If you don’t already have a nature journal, print out the one included in our free downloads for the John Muir Letter here.

    Day 5: Deep Thoughts & Bonus Nature Walk

    Consider this quote…

    “The mountains are calling and I must go.” -John Muir

    What aspect of nature “calls to you”?  Is it the mountains like John Muir? Or is it the rivers, oceans, trees, animals, flowers, grasslands?  Why do you think this aspect of nature means the most to you? 

    Go for another nature walk today if you can or look through pictures of your favorite place in nature.  Add another entry into your nature journal.


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