Free Nature Studies: Working Like Beavers Part 1

Beavers work hard and steadily building homes, staying alert for danger, and keeping their fur neat.

The lesson on beavers is broken up into two parts — the first mainly dealing with the animal itself, the second with the results of its labor!

Read the current chapter online: “Working Like Beavers I”

  • Illustrate a notebooking page with drawing of a beaver. Use Colossians 3:23 (“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men…”) as a caption for the page. You’ll find notebooking helps below.
  • Discuss the meaning of “busy as a beaver.”  Make an idiom booklet using 10 common idioms with meaningful illustrations.
  • Narrate the tasks beavers perform during the “busy season.”
  • Take a closeup view of a beaver skeleton to view some of its odd anatomical features.
  • Draw an illustration of a beaver home using the description the author gives as a guide.
  • Make a four-page flip book to show the four ways a beaver uses its tail.
  • View the world’s largest beaver dam — 8 football fields long! — at Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada.
  • Something to do #1: Find out why Canada chose the beaver as its national emblem.
  • Something to do #2: You can use this map at National Geographic to help you map the beaver’s range in the United States on this U.S. map at  This book was written in the 1920s.  The beaver has made quite a comeback!   You’ll find more about this subject in the resources below.
  • Something to do #3: Instead of writing to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you can download this technical bulletin from 1927 — “Beaver Habits and Experiments in Beaver Culture” at the University of Minnesota.  You may find the map on page 4 interesting!
  • Something to do #4: Read “The Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
  • Something to do #5: In Beaver World by Enos Mills is covered in the next lesson.  You’ll find other stories about beavers below.
  • Something to do #6: You’ll find notebooking resources below.
  • Copy and memorize Romans 12:11.
  • More about beavers from the Book of Knowledge:

Beavers are among the best known of the rodents. Once they were common in Europe, but only a few remain there now. More are found in the less settled parts of North America and Asia. Beaver fur was important and valuable when North America was being settled and it was one of the chief causes of exploration. To get beaver, fur trappers and traders went out into the wilds, built trading posts and forts and opened up the country for settlement. At one time, beaver skins were used as money. But the trappers almost destroyed the beaver. Around 1880 only a few beavers were left and they were in the most inaccessible places. Now, with protection, this rodent is coming back to our wooded streams and ponds.

Beavers are thickset and heavy, weighing up to sixty-five pounds. Their legs are short and strong. The hind feet are webbed, and this helps them in swimming. The tail is flat and naked, covered with scales. The tail is used as a rudder when swimming; it also serves to make loud splashes, as warnings of danger to the beaver colony, and to prop up the beaver when he is gnawing down trees.

Deep water is necessary for a beaver. His winter food supply of bark must be kept under water; and when the only entrance to a home is deep under water, enemies do not come visiting. In cold climates the pond must be so deep that it will not freeze solid — the beavers must come out to get their food. If the beaver home, or lodge, is in a lake no dam is needed, and when beavers live in a river they often live in burrows in the banks. Beavers living in small streams must build dams. These they make of sticks, mud and stones; dams may be six or eight feet high and as long as a city block.

The lodges are also made of sticks and mud; generally they are round, ten feet or more across and with thick walls. Inside each lodge is a roomy chamber, where the beaver makes a nest of shredded bark. Sometimes, when all the trees the beavers like have been cut down around the pond, they dig long canals to other stands of trees and float their food down to the home pond.

The dams act like giant sieves to hold back the water and settle the fine particles of soil in the streams, especially after rains. Much of the rich meadowland in our mountains was made this way. The water seeps out into the earth all round the dam, making it rich. This continent owes a debt to the beavers.

“Gnawers and Burrowers — or Rodents,” The Book of Knowledge
  • Beavers
    Ready to go outdoors? The Handbook of Nature Study briefly covers beavers in the muskrat section beginning on page 219, and continuing through page 223.

Further Investigation

Brief video from the Missouri Department of Conservation.
(You may want to install an ad blocker before viewing.)

Basic facts and information at the Great Plains Nature Center.

Article at Creation magazine that talks about the beaver’s amazing design and engineering capabilities.

American Idioms
List of common idioms to help with idiom notebook.


Building a Dam Like a Beaver
Children learn how hard it is to control water.  Short video with discussion questions at

Beavers Have Lumberjack Teeth
A look at a beaver’s teeth at

Beaver Lodge
A look inside at

Build a Dam
Block the flow of water and see what happens!

Paper Plate Beaver Mask
Easy craft for the youngest from DLTK.


The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver by Thornton Burgess
We love these Thornton Burgess titles and have collected them all.  In this title, Paddy the Beaver decides to build a dam…and change the community!  Lessons for all included.  In the public domain and available as a free download.

“The Builders”
Chapter from Ways of Wood Folk by William Long.

“A Worker and a Robber”
Chapter from The Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton Burgess that observes the differences between a hard-working beaver and his relative the rat!

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Lesson plan from the University of Alaska that explores beavers, their features, habitats, and historical importance.  Activities include drawing a beaver, a beaver craft, and making a beaver lodge.

The Fox and the Grapes: A Mini Unit Study

The Fox and the Grapes: A Mini Unit Study
One of our own units that investigates idioms, among other things.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Animal printout with illustration at

Beaver Lodge
Illustration for notebook.

Drawing & Writing Notebooking Paper {Free Download}
Paper with lines on bottom and room on top for illustrating.  Can be used to create an idiom notebook or for use in Something to do #6.

Animal Report Form
Record the fast facts on this free form at Highland Heritage.

Free Nature Studies: Working Like Beavers Part 1
Simple pages that go with the lesson for copywork, narrations, and Something to Do #6.

Enjoy the complete series:
Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World

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