Literature Unit Study Resources for The Sign of the Beaver

I read The Sign of the Beaver aloud with my oldest children when they were in middle school. We all enjoyed the book, and I realized that there are so many great science and early American history connections to make with it. You can use The Sign of the Beaver as a literature unit study with the book information and activities here.

Don’t forget to pick up my free ebook- The Ultimate Book of Unit Studies for Literature Lovers– here. It’s got forty-five literature-based unit studies, as well as a unit study planner and blank notebooking pages.

The Sign of the Beaver unit study

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About the book

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare is a historical fiction book set in the American colonies in the 1700s. Thirteen -year- old Matt and his father move further Westward into Indian territory to build a new house for their family, leaving behind his mother, sister, and new baby. After the construction of the house, Matt’s father returns to the East to bring the family out, and Matt is left behind to protect and maintain the new home. He’s apprehensive about the situation- especially about meeting natives. An unfortunate series of events befall Matt, leading him to meet Attean, an Indian boy, and his family.
The book is an interesting story that reveals what was going on in the early Americas as white people moved Westward. It explores the relationships between whites and natives. As Matt begins to question what he’s known and been taught about “the savages”, readers can see his growth and maturity.
As you read The Sign of the Beaver, there are many ways to extend the story into various subject areas.


* Learn more about the American colonies and how the early colonists lived at Land of the Brave.
* American Centuries: View From New England is a great site that lets kids have interactive experiences to learn about the early settlers.
* The Ducksters Colonial History page has links to many great articles about this time period in American history. There are also some additional book suggestions.
* If your kids are a little older, have a discussion about the treatment of Indians as the white settlers moved in. Was it good? Bad? What could have been done differently?


* Read about temperate forests; play games; and take quizzes at the World Biomes site.
* A black bear plays a prominent role in The Sign of the Beaver. Read all about bears, play games, see photos and more at the American Bear Association.
* This cute and funny video will teach kids about beavers.
The Sign of the Beaver unit study

Language Arts

* As you get to know Attean and Matt in the story, create a Venn Diagram to compare the two.

* Creative writing: Pretend you are Matt, left alone in the wilderness. What would you do?
* The novel Robinson Crusoe is read by Matt to Attean in The Sign of the Beaver. Listen to an audio version of Robinson Crusoe.


* Free literature circle printable for The Sign of the Beaver– This is designed for a classroom group, but it has some excellent resources that could be used to discuss the book as you read aloud.
* Literature unit lesson plans– Again this is designed for a classroom, but it’s a free resource and has vocabulary, comprehension questions, and more.
* Free Scholastic lesson plan- has cross-curricula ideas for using the book
* Literature unit from Moving Beyond the Page- This isn’t a free resource, but I’ve used several Moving Beyond the Page literature units- including this one- and we love them. You can get an online version or a printed version. There are all kinds of activities to do relating to the book.
* The Sign of the Beaver movie- The movie is a good follow up. It has some big differences from the book, but it does keep the themes of the book. You can watch it free if you have Amazon Prime.
The Sign of the Beaver was a very enjoyable book for all of us. It’s also a book that stimulates some great family discussions.

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