Leave It to Beavers: Nature’s Builders

Humans are not the only builders. Many animals build structures to live in or to protect where they live. Beavers make structures called dams to protect their lodges from predators. Plus, they use their own teeth as a saw when they build! How cool is that? Learn even more cool facts about beavers and their homes with these books and activities recommended by librarian Brigid from Chinatown Branch.  

For some STEAM activities to learn the science and engineering behind canals and dams, check out Canals and Dams!

Then, explore how many concepts in human-made structures have been influenced by nature in Wild Buildings and Bridges.

Dude! Dude! You have to read this book. It's totally about this platypus and this beaver who are friends. They want to go surfing, but Dude! There's this shark who's in the ocean, too. You'll never guess what happens!

In I'm Done!, Little Beaver would rather play with friends than build a proper dam, but finally he is ready to get it done.

Now that you know how beavers block streams or rivers and create a dam, try to build your own! Find a container, like a paint tray or casserole dish, and fill it half full with water. Or you can head outside to a sandbox instead. Collect materials like sticks, rocks and anything else you can find and discover what material works best to keep the water on one side of your dam. See how one group of kids built a dam in this video from PBS Kids.

Did you know beaver dams can help clean polluted waters? Create your own water filtration system just like a beaver's dam.

Reflect on Your Learning

  • People sometimes say “as busy as a beaver” to describe someone who is very hardworking. Would you describe yourself that way? Why or why not?
  • Can you think of any reasons why dams might cause problems in nature?