Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapter 4-5

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.

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapter 4-5

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.

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapter 4-5

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapter 4-5

“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.

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapter 4-5

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapter 4-5

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.

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapter 4-5

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapter 4-5

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.

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapter 4-5

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapter 4-5

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!

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapter 4-5

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.

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapter 4-5

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.

P.S. Don’t miss Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study (Chapters 1-3)


Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapters 1-3

I clearly remember, over 30 years ago, sitting in my elementary class, listening to the teacher read the book, Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling Clancy Holling. Her enthusiasm for the story was directly conveyed to us, her students, as we listen enraptured by the story of small canoe carved by an young boy, drifting through the Great Lakes out to the Atlantic Ocean. Imagine my excitement when I found this very book on the list of reading material for my children’s homeschool curriculum this year!  I couldn’t wait to start our Paddle-to-the-Sea unit study!

Our “unit studies” are perhaps a little different than others.  My purpose with a unit study is to answer questions that the children may have, developing a deeper understanding of the story and most of all creating an entire experience around the story so that the children remember the story vividly.  This often takes us on interesting adventures of all kinds – additional reading, crafts, map exploration, nature walks, science experiments etc.

Chapter 1:  How Paddle-to-the-Sea Came to Be

The first chapter was about how Paddle-to-the-Sea was created. A young Indian boy, whittled Paddle out of wood.  Luci wanted to know what “whittling” was. I thought knives and wood might be a bit much for a 4 yr old, so we tried carving a Paddle Person out of a bar of soap instead.

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapters 1-3

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapters 1-3

Clark and Luci drew the shape of the canoe onto the soap with a sharp nut pick.  They they began the carving process with several different tools. The process was not nearly as simple as they originally thought and after over an hour of some serious work, we may or may not have decided that whittling was not our gift.

Chapter 2:  Long River Reaching to the Sea

The second chapter describes the route Paddle-to-the-Sea will be taking, through the Great Lakes, down the Saint Laurence River, out to the Atlantic Ocean.  We found each of these locations on our map and will follow along with Paddle on his adventures.

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapters 1-3

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapters 1-3

Chapter 3:  Paddle Starts on His Journey

I love the author’s descriptions.  They paint a vivid picture of what is happening in the story.  This chapter describes the scene as Spring begins to emerge, melting the snow and eventually releasing Paddle from his perch.

Clark and Luci were very interested in what a canoe was.  They have never had the opportunity to ride in one, so we watched some videos of canoes being carved out of wood and of people enjoying the more modern canoes.  We even made our own canoes out of paper.

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapters 1-3

To make the canoe, I drew a simple template which I have since made into a FREE download.  Click below to get your own, then print it out on an 8.5″ x 11″ cardstock.  Follow the instructions below to create your own Paddle-to-the-Sea canoe!

Paddle-to-the-Sea Canoe Instructions

Before you start, download the FREE printable template for the canoe HERE.

1. Fold the paper in half, along the dotted line.

2. Cut out the curved edge, as indicated.

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3. While keeping the paper folded in half, cut along the short straight lines on each end.

4. Now fold both ends along the dotted line.  Glue the folded ends together.

5. Glue the end tabs, bringing them up along the side of the canoe.  You may need to hold these tabs in place for a few seconds while the glue sets.

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapters 1-3

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapters 1-3

Here is the end product –  a Paddle-to-the-Sea canoe!  You can now name it and decorate it however you like!  If I was a better planner, I would probably do the decorating before all of the gluing.  It would be easier when the paper was flat.  Clark named his canoe The Floating Rose.

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapters 1-3

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapters 1-3

Luci named her canoe Cat Canoe because she had a couple of little stuffed animal cats that would fit perfectly.  She played with the canoe and cats for hours!

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapters 1-3

Paddle-to-the-Sea Unit Study Chapters 1-3

Here’s the link to the canoe template again.  Click to download:

Paddle-to-the-Sea Canoe FREE Printable Template

Be on the lookout as we continue our story of Paddle-to-the-Sea.  We’ll keep you updated on our projects and unit study!