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Read Aloud Wednesdays Book Feature: The Sign of the Beaver

Leah Courtney
{This post may contain affiliate links.Read my disclosure here. }

Because of the holiday, the fact that last Wednesday was the last Wednesday in the month alluded me. So I missed the final Wednesday of the month book feature at Read Aloud Wednesdays. In today's Read Aloud Wednesdays post, I'm featuring the May book- The Sign of the Beaver. The Sign of Beaver is a middle grades fiction book that I've enjoyed reading aloud twice- once to each set of my children. Here's a synopsis of the book and some ideas that can extend the learning and discussions as you're reading.

Resources and suggestions for using The Sign of the Beaver

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.

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.
{Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial }

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.

Now it's your turn. Link up any reading related posts below. I love to see what you're reading with your family!

As We Walk Along the Road

Leah Courtney / Author & Editor

Leah Courtney is a homeschooling mom of four. She’s graduated two teens- one who’s a legal adult now! And she’s still homeschooling two middle schoolers. She loves all things book related, and in her- very rare- free time you can find her listening to audiobooks and coloring.


  1. My sons loved this book. Speare is a great author who weaves history, story and character together so attractively.

  2. I agree. We've enjoyed many of her books!

  3. This book sounds so familiar... but I can't recall for sure if I ever read it with my boy. If not... I'll have to! :)

    Annette @ A net In time

    1. I always have to try to remember if I really read certain books to the younger kids. I'll think I did, but when we start talking about it, I realize I read it to the older ones when the younger set was too young to remember! :-)

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