How the Hunt for Evidence of Beavers Started
Beavers live in a wetland habitat. My kindergarteners were learning about habitats. I showed them this video. It has a catchy little tune that had them wanting to sing it again and again!
As you can see the beaver appears at the beginning of the video. This rodent also appears at the end of the video. My kindergarteners wanted to learn more about beavers, and so we did!
At the same time, my husband and I had been checking out different trails in the area. One trail was not far from home, and about eight miles from the school. Beavers were living along the trail’s edge in the wetlands. This is when I got the idea to have families search for evidence of beavers along the trail!
How I Got the Families to Hunt for Evidence of Beavers
First of all, my students learned what to look for in class. I brought in logs that beavers had chewed on, and they had seen beaver lodges in videos. They knew what beavers looked like.
My husband and I went out on the trail again. We measured the distance on the trail where we started to see signs that beavers had been there. Once we had this information, I wrote a letter home to families explaining the ‘BEAVER CHALLENGE.’ The letter contained directions to the trail, the distance to walk (.6 miles) until they would start seeing signs that beavers lived there, and requested that they take a picture of their child with the evidence and send it to my school email.
This challenge was completely optional. Even so, about a third of our kindergarten classes participated. That means that about 30 kindergarten families spent time outdoors together!
I started a bulletin board in my STEM lab, posting some of the photos that I received. Subsequently, students in other grade levels started questioning what was going on. They asked if they could participate in the beaver challenge too! Heck, why not? The only problem with this was that I had to move our display of evidence to a bigger place, the cafeteria!
The Results of the Search
I received many wonderful pictures of smiling kids with evidence! Unfortunately, I can’t post those, but I can post some other pictures.
Parents’ support was overwhelming, and families had so much fun that they asked if I would come up with similar activities for them to do together! I did, and will write about that in a future post!
More Good News
Evidence of beavers can be found year-round. Check these photos that I took at another wetland during the winter. The second one is of a beaver slide. Apparently, beavers come in and out of the water at the same places over and over again, making slides!
If you don’t have beavers in your area, what do you have that students and their families can go on a search for? There is always something!
Because interest in beavers is so high, I created resources to use, and have them in my TpT shop. One resource is for kindergarten and first graders about animal homes. The other two resources have differentiated reading passages. One targeted at grades 1, 2, and 3. The other one is targeted for grades 3, 4, and 5. The reading passages come with a ‘Build a Beaver Dam’ STEAM challenge.
If you are looking for another activity that you can do outdoors any time of year, check out our post about geocaching.
And remember, it’s all science!