Our Paddle-to-the-Sea unit study (Chapters 4-5) continues. Clark and Luci are completely engrossed in this book, as we explore all of the details and subjects that each chapter introduces.
Chapter 4: Brook and Beaver Pond
In Chapter 4, Paddle gets temporarily stuck in a beaver pond, before breaking free in a flood. We decided to learn a little more about beavers. Since this chapter was about a beaver pond, we thought it would only make sense to try to make our own with its’ very own beaver lodge.
The first step to building a beaver lodge, would have to be gathering the sticks. We happened to have a pile of drying brush in our back yard awaiting pickup. This served as the perfect place to gather our sticks. We picked out small twigs and sticks, that we thought would be of an ideal size for our lodge.
“Busy as a Beaver”
Shortly after starting, both Clark began complaining. “This is not quite what I thought we’d be doing,” he stated. “We came outside to gather sticks to build a beaver lodge. What exactly did you think it would consist of?” I asked him. “Not this!” he responded, annoyed. This led to a discussion about the idiom “busy as a beaver” or “busy as a bee.” Although we don’t see too many beaver in our area, there are bees. When asked to describe a bee, Clark and Luci realized that they have only ever seen bees working, collecting pollen, making honey etc. We talked about how animals work hard to build their homes, to find food and to look after their children. There is very little time to take breaks! I think this gave Clark a little perspective because he stopped complaining and started collecting his sticks in earnest.
Making a Beaver Lodge
Once we had gathered enough sticks and twigs, we came indoors. Clark cut out a couple of pieces from an old egg carton to give us a base for the beavers’ lodges. Then we rolled out a large strip of paper and Clark and Luci both drew a beaver pond. Once the ponds were colored in, I had them glue the bottom of their egg carton piece and position it wherever they wanted their beaver lodge to be.
While waiting for the glue to dry, we added addition decor to the beaver ponds, including grass, moss, flowers, dead trees and waterlilies for the beaver to eat. As the children let loose their creative sides, I read to them, from books we’d gotten from the library. As I read and they learned, they added additions to their pond, to make them more realistic and accurate.
Finally the most anticipated portion of the product arrived. We combined wet clay (as similar to mud as I would allow in the house), and our sticks to form a beaver lodge. They turned out really cute and almost realistic!
As long as we were playing with clay, it only made sense to carve out a beaver to hang out in these lodges. Luci managed a big ball of clay that may have been a hedgehog. Clark stuck through and came up with an adorable little beaver.
Chapter 5: Breakup of the River
To emulate the breakup of the river, we took the rest of our sticks and placed them in a container of water. We then place the container in the freezer overnight, allowing it to freeze all of the sticks in place. In the morning, we took the container and put it out in the yard. We checked on it occasionally to watch its’ progress. Eventually the ice broke and all of the sticks came free. We pretended that this was how it was when Paddle-to-the-Sea burst out of the beaver pond.