Build Like A Beaver

Beavers are inspiring engineers, but they also model persistence! In this activity, we invite kids to take inspiration from the super engineer beaver and use whatever they have around them to build up. Building up can be challenging, as gravity is always ready to pull our towers down. But, we learn from every trial and every error, if we are willing to persist! 

The Guide

Step 1: Watch the Tinkergarten Home "Building Up" video lesson.

Hop into your Tinkergarten dashboard to watch the "Building Up" video lesson. Kids can watch how Meghan and other explorers use the materials around them to build up, then get inspired to build in their home spaces, too. 

Not yet signed up? Click here to sign up or to try a free Tinkergarten Home lesson.

Step 2: Build up (or out!)

Gather a collection of materials kids can use to stack and build with, such as cardboard boxes, recycled containers, sticks or even wooden building blocks. To spark play, use a question prompt like “I wonder how tall of a tower you could build with those boxes?” Step back and let kids get to work on building with the materials.

Step 3: Offer challenges and prompts.

To add extra challenge, invite kids to challenge themselves to build higher or to see how quickly they can stack all of their building materials. When we think of building, it’s most often oriented up. What about building out and remaining on the ground but sprawling out on all sides? How does it feel to arrange as a form of building? Can kids build on a tiny scale and create a home for a tiny friend? Big kids may also enjoy the challenge of building a pretend beaver den or other type of structure. 

Step 4: Knock it down (if kids want to).

Sometimes, toppling towers can be fun when we WANT to knock them down, too. When kids finish building, ask them if they would like to knock their tower over. How does it feel to knock something down? Once their structure is disassembled, how would they like to build it differently the next time?

Step 5: Support frustration.

It’s hard to see our kids experience frustration and disappointment, but learning to see failures as opportunities to grow makes kids more willing to try new things and discover the world. If your child’s structure topples, you can say something like, “Oh, your tower fell. I wonder how we could make it even stronger/taller/faster this time.” You can also build alongside your child and talk about your own frustration when something you are building topples. Then, model how to reframe it as a chance to try building it again in a different way.

Why is this activity great for kids?

Learning through trial and error and sticking with a challenging task is great practice in persistence. As towers topple and kids experience and talk about the different emotions they experience, they have the opportunity to practice empathy. Sticking with the task of building or working with materials develops kids’ capacity for focus and self-control. Structure building is also a great way for kids to work on problem solving and STEM learning (e.g. concepts of balance and the effects of gravity).

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