Using this nature-inspired engineering game for kids, you will learn about ten animals and the houses they build, then complete the engineering challenges and build your own versions of these amazing dwellings!
Architecture has played a significant role in human history, but humans are not the only ones to build impressive structures. Some animals work very hard to engineer their perfect dwelling. It becomes especially obvious as we try to learn their techniques and replicate their work. Using this engineering game, students will learn about ten animals and the amazing structures they build, then attempt to build their own versions of these specific dwellings.
The animal engineers described in the game are a beaver, a squirrel, a rabbit, a bear, a loon, a puffin, a bower bird, a coot, a wasp, and a termite. Birds are particularly inventive with their nests, but insects create amazing structures as well!
Animal House Engineering Game Features
The Animal House Engineering game includes 40 cards:
• 10 challenge cards: “Can you build a house for this animal?”
• 10 house cards giving information on what dwelling or structure this particular animal usually lives in or uses for some other purpose
• 10 engineering idea cards suggesting how to build a model of this structure
• 10 cards with diagrams of the animal structures
How to Use the Animal House Engineering Game
It is best not to complete all the challenges in the game at once, but rather to do a couple of cards at a time.
First, I recommend working with challenge cards without giving any other instructions. Ask the players for ideas every particular animal’s house might look like. Variants of answers at this point may be, “A house for a bear should be big!” or “A bird will live high in the tree.” Attempt to construct a house based on their proposed plan and using the most readily available materials.
Many of the engineering game cards suggest working with natural materials, like branches, leaves and sand. But don’t let this limit your creativity! Build caves with wooden blocks or floating islands with LEGO blocks. Here is my son’s take on what a beaver’s lodge should look like – if beavers had DUPLO blocks.
After that, look at the picture card and read the description of the proposed construction. Ask the players if the first house they built answered the requirement for the perfect house for this particular animal. If yes, move onto the next challenge. If not, ask for the ideas on how they can improve it, then build a new model.
If the players have difficulty coming up with a solution, take a look at the engineering cards that give suggestions for building a model of this house while learning interesting engineering techniques.
Here is an example of how we completed the challenge of building a beaver’s lodge.
How to Build a Model of a Beaver’s House
The description on the card from the game says, “A beaver’s lodge starts as a dome constructed from branches, rocks, leaves and mud. It is often located in the middle of the pond. Once the dome is built, beavers dig and chew out two tunnels with underwater entrances and a chamber in the centre of the dome that is located above water.”
We used a ramen bowl for the base and cut a door inside.
Next, we trimmed a few dead branches off our lilac bush and cut them into small sticks with secateurs. The beaver helped.
We used a low-heat hot glue gun to attach sticks to the bowl. The completed lodge looked like this.
We added a little bit of moss, both to give the lodge a more realistic look and to hide the places where the bowl still showed up under the branches.
We put our house in a bowl of water to imitate the pond where a beaver would usually build its lodge. It really is an interesting construction! The only entrances are completely covered by water, so only an animal that is proficient at swimming can get inside. But the beaver itself does not live in the water – the passage that starts underwater goes up, and the actual house of the beaver is above the water level. You can create an imitation of this arrangement by piling a few rocks inside of the model house.
The beaver is settling into his house, but there are more houses to build for other animals! Share your animal house models with us.
Get the Animal House Engineering Game!
You can also get this game as a part of our Nature STEAM Pack (60% discount!) along with other creative printable projects for exploring nature.
Alternatively, Animal Diversity Bundle also includes this pack of challenges. It also offers other activities for exploring the amazing diversity of animals on our planet. Have a battle of wits with the animal trivia game; find out all about endangered animals with the guess who game; play detective with the animal track game; design and build houses, inspired by animal architects; make animal art with the science-themed art prompts!
Thank you for reading!