Beavers and Muskrats – Background

Beavers and muskrats, both rodents with round, furry bodies, twinkling eyes, and dexterous front feet, have a certain charm that endears them to us, even though they can be a nuisance. Both animals live in wetland habitats, and, though they are only distantly related, they have many similarities in their behavior and physical adaptations. Muskrats are beneficial to other wetland animals because they keep waterways open and clear of vegetation. But beavers far outshine muskrats in their skill as engineers and in the profound effect they have on their environment. Continue reading Beavers and Muskrats – Background

Beavers and Muskrats – Activities

FOCUS: Muskrats and beavers are furry mammals that spend much of their lives in and around the water of streams, ponds, and wetlands. Both animals modify their habitat to suit their needs, and beavers in particular have a significant impact on their environment. Beavers and muskrats have many special adaptations for their largely aquatic lives.

Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about beavers and muskrats.

Give small groups of children several photographs of beavers and muskrats to examine and sort.

Materials an assortment of photographs of beavers and muskrats.

Objective: To examine and compare beaver and muskrat skulls and pelts and to consider how their special adaptations function in their lives.

In small groups, give children a chance to hold and study different beaver and muskrat skulls and pelts. Use the Beaver Kit Study Guide questions to help children think about each part and how it relates to a beaver’s or muskrat’s life. Continue reading Beavers and Muskrats – Activities

Beavers and Muskrats – Puppet Show

The Tales of Two Rodents

Characters: Beaver, Blue Jay, Fox, Muskrat

Props: three or four small sticks; two wooden blocks to bang together to make loud clap, cattail prop.

Cattail prop attached to stage

Beaver  (places a stick on stage) Five, six, pick up sticks, seven, eight, lay them straight.

Blue Jay  Hold it, wait a minute, hold on right there. What are you up to, Bernie Beaver? Continue reading Beavers and Muskrats – Puppet Show

Beavers and Muskrats – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Beavers and Muskrats – Standards