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As part of our homeschool this week, we took on learning more about beavers and creating a dam with an All About Beavers Unit Study. I honestly never knew that beavers were such interesting and important little creatures until we dug deeper. While most see their dam building as a hindrance, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Did you know that the beaver is responsible for creating fertile landscapes across North America and can actually help rebuild an eco-system? They can replenish fresh water wetlands, which become homes to many animals.
Through the course of the week, we learned really amazing things about the beaver. While we used a lot of resources, one of our favorites is, “Leave it to Beavers.”
This is a PBS Nature video and was laid out in a way that the entire family enjoyed it. I do want to mention though, that at the very front of the DVD, an older gentleman is talking about this amazing rodent and does say what we call a bad word in our house. The boys were quick to point it out and at first I worried that it wasn’t kid-friendly. Luckily, that wasn’t the case and that was the only word we heard through the entire DVD.
How Beavers Build A Dam: A clip from “Leave it to Beavers”
Fun Beaver Facts:
• Beavers are mainly nocturnal animals
•There are usually two dens within the beaver lodge. One is for drying off after coming in from the water. The other is where the family of up to four adults and young live.
• Beavers are slow on land but using their webbed feet, they are very good swimmers.
• A beaver can stay under water for up to 15 minutes.
• Beavers are herbivores.
• A beaver can live up to 24-years old
•Their young stay with them until around 2 years of age. During this time they learn how to build their dam and become independent.
Activities we did:
How beavers swim:
This was a fun little activity to show why webbed feet help a beaver to swim.
For this activity, you’ll need:
sink or a large bowl of water
sandwich or quart-size plastic bag
What we did
Have your child spread their fingers wide and drag them through the water. Afterward, ask them if they were able to move more water.
Dry hand and then place it inside the plastic bag. Have the child do the same thing. Keeping fingers spread wide, drag hand through water. Once again ask them if they were able to move more water.
We then discussed how this worked.
Building a dam:
The boys had a lot of fun with this activity. They would build, test and tweak their design until they felt like they had a solid design.
To prepare for building our beaver dam, we headed out on a nature walk. The boys gathered a variety of different sized rocks, stick and even some moss to bring back with them.
With the plans in place it was time to build. Once the dam was complete, we would test it. If any water went through, then it was back to the drawing board. This was such a wonderful hands-on learning experience. It really showed the kids what an amazing architect a beaver is.
Inspect a beaver dam
To wrap up our week of learning, we headed out in search of a beaver dam. Did we find one? We sure did. There’s a beaver dam in the woods down by our house. The boys loved heading over to check it out, and to see how the beavers have placed everything. They also inspected the tree stumps that were left after the beavers dropped the trees.
We Beaver Dam No-Bake Cookies to wrap up the week. I wish I could take credit for these delicious little treats. The recipe is similar to regular no-bake cookies except it doesn’t include peanut butter. Knowing that mine are fans of peanut butter, I decided to drizzle the top with peanut butter instead of chocolate as the recipe suggests. The recipe can be found HERE.
Recommended Books & DVDs
Build a Dam