The Sign of the Beaver Activities

The Sign of the Beaver Activities

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.

The Sign of the Beaver Activities

Book Unit Samples

The Sign of the Beaver Novel Study Samples

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.

Teaching Idea #1  – The Sign of the Beaver Pop-Up Characters

The Sign of the Beaver Activities

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. In the space provided, students create a character sketch using details that describe the character’s physical appearance, personality traits, and behavior.

The handout includes eight character pop-ups in both black line and full color. An answer key is also provided.

Teaching Idea #2  – Discussion Questions

The Sign of the Beaver Teaching Activities
  1. What do you know about the 1700s? What was life like during this time period? How did it differ from life today?
  2. Name some customs or traditions unique to Native American culture.
  3. What were some of the challenges colonists faced in the wilderness?
  4. What was the fur trade? Why was it important during this time period? Who was involved in the fur trade?
  5. What did you learn about the relationship between the colonists and the Native Americans in The Sign of the Beaver? How did this relationship change throughout the story?
  1. What were some of the conflicts that arose between the colonists and the Native Americans in the story? How were these conflicts resolved?
  2. How did Matt and Attean’s friendship develop over the course of the story? What were some of the challenges they faced?
  3. What did you think about the ending of the novel? Was it a satisfying conclusion? Why or why not?
  4. What did you learn about wilderness survival from the novel? Would you be able to survive in the wilderness as Matt did?
  5. If you could ask Elizabeth George Speare one question about the novel, what would it be?

Teaching Idea #3  –The Sign of the Beaver Movie

A movie version of The Sign of the Beaver was created in 1997 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 teaching compare and contrast skills.

The film adaptation of The Sign of the Beaver is not a direct representation of the book. It follows the general plot and characters of the novel, but there are some differences between the two.

Pacing and plot:

The film condenses the plot of the novel to fit within a shorter running time. As a result, some events and details from the book are left out or altered for the movie.


While the main characters of the novel, Matt and Attean, are still present in the film, some of the secondary characters are given more or less prominence than they have in the book.


The film was shot on location in Canada. This gives it a more authentic wilderness feel than the book. 


Some conversations in the book are not present in the film. Some new conversations were added to the movie.


While the general ending of the book is preserved in the film. there are some differences in the way that events play out.

Teaching Idea #4  – The Sign of the Beaver Audiobook

See the product that inspired this post.

The Sign of the Beaver Novel Study

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

Gay Miller

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