The Sign of the Beaver Activities

The Sign of the Beaver Teaching Ideas

Are you planning to use Elizabeth Geroge Speare’s wonderful book? Your students are in for a real treat! Enhance your unit with these The Sign of the Beaver activities.


Matt and his pa travel to Maine leaving the rest of his family at home. They build a cabin and plant corn on the newly purchased land. Matt’s pa leaves him in the wilderness to take care of the homestead while he returns to Quincy to collect the rest of the family.

A number of events happen to Matt while he waits for his family. First, a trapper named Ben shows up at the cabin one night. Matt feeds him. During the night, Ben runs off with Matt’s gun. Next, Matt leaves the cabin door unsecured. A bear comes inside and eats his provisions. As Matt tries to get honey from a hive, he is stung repeatedly.

With so many misadventures, the reader worries that Matt will not live long enough for his family to join him at the homestead. Read this historical adventure to find out if Matt survives.

Activities for The Sign of the Beaver

The Sign of the Beaver Unit Samples

Teaching Ideas to use with The Sign of the Beaver

Check out The Sign of the Beaver Book Unit free samples including:

  • Vocabulary Practice for Chapters 1-2
  • Comprehension Questions for Chapters 1-2
  • Constructed Response Question – Setting


You can get the free book unit sample by clicking the button.


The Sign of the Beaver Pop-Up Characters

Students will enjoy creating this interactive notebook page while reading The Sign of the Beaver. Not only is it a fun activity, but a great way to reinforce character traits.

Students will enjoy creating this interactive notebook page while reading The Sign of the Beaver. Not only is it a fun activity, but a great way to reinforce character traits.

Eight character pop-ups are provided along with an answer key that provides character traits for each.


Matthew Hallowell

  • settler
  • 12 at the beginning of the book/turns 13
  • uses a rifle to hunt
  • knows how to read
  • can’t hunt animals after he “loses” his rifle


  • scoundrel
  • takes advantage of Matt’s kindness by stealing his rifle and running off in the middle of the night


  • member of Penobscots
  • 14 years old
  • heavy black hair to his shoulders
  • black eyes
  • wears breechcloth
  • greases his body to keep mosquitos away
  • uses a bow and arrows to hunt
  • doesn’t want to learn how to read
  • makes his own tools


  • chief of Penobscots
  • Attean’s grandfather
  • He and his tribe detest “white man” after they slaughtered Attean’s father and mother.
  • wants Matt to teach Attean how to read so he won’t be tricked by the settler’s treaties

Penobscot Boys

  • brought up to hate the European settlers
  • tests Matt’s bravery during a rough ball game

Mr. Hallowell Matt’s dad

  • leaves Matt at the homestead in the Maine woods to go back to fetch Matt’s mother and sister
  • Although Matt’s dad is not around for most of the story, his advice guides Matt’s actions.


  • Attean’s sister
  • Attean doesn’t think highly of his sister because she is just a girl.
  • goes with Matt to free Attean’s dog after he is caught in a trap
  • She reminds Matt of his sister Sarah. Matt wishes the two could meet.

Attean’s Grandmother

  • doesn’t want to get to know the settlers since her daughter was slaughtered by them
  • sends Matt to an abandoned wigwam instead of welcoming him into her home after the Beaver clan’s celebration for killing the bear
  • warms up to Matt when he risks endangering himself for Attean’s dog

The Sign of the Beaver Movie

A movie version of The Sign of the Beaver was created in 1997. The film starring Keith Carradine, Annette O’Toole, Brendan Fletcher runs for 1 hour and 35 minutes. The film has excellent reviews and is a great addition to teach compare and contrast skills.

The Sign of the Beaver Audiobook



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The Sign of the Beaver includes vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, constructed response writing, and skill practice.  



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