Before we begin reading, let's learn a little bit about the author, Elizabeth George Speare:

Even when she was a child, Elizabeth George Speare wanted to be a writer.  She grew up in New England, and that is where most of her stories take place.  She had a special interest in Colonial history.  Read more about her here:

A Biography of Elizabeth George Speare 


Let's learn a little bit about the story setting. 

The story takes place in Maine when it was first being settled.  Visit Fact Monster and read about the state of Maine.

Fact Monster: Maine



Read chapters 1 and 2 of The Sign of the Beaver, and then complete this chore:

You should learn what life was like for a thirteen year old boy in the late 1700's. You will choose one aspect of a particular skill that Matt will need in his new life in the Maine wilderness.  Here are some websites to help you with your task:

Wilderness Survival: 

 Edible Plants 

What to do if you meet a bear

Life as a colonial settler: 

Colonial Life

How to build a log cabin

Complete one of the following activities in order to show that you are ready to go on your adventure:

1. Present a particular survival technique to the group that you learned, that will help your fellow classmates survive on their journey. For example, what to do if you meet a bear, how to build a suitable trap to catch a small animal, or how to recognize edible plants, and what you should avoid eating.

2.  Design and make a blueprint of a  traditional log cabin. Present it to our reading group, explaining the process of construction, and any special things to consider when building a real log cabin. 

3. Write a recipe for a traditional dish that was eaten in the late 1700's. Explain how the early American settlers would have made this dish without a supermarket to buy all the ingredients from!


Your next chores will  be  completed as you read the book The Sign of the Beaver. Obviously you will be missing your father a lot. Even though there is no post office in the woods, you will still want to write him some letters, that he can read when he gets home. You should write him at least 4 letters of at least one page each. You will want to talk about what has happened since he left. You may also want to talk about any feelings, fears or hopes that you might have. Make sure your spelling, and grammar are correct! And remember- the year is 1768!


Write your first letter after you have read chapters 1 through 6. 

Before you begin, review the rules for writing a friendly letter.  Here are some websites that you may find helpful.  Remember to write the letters, as if you were Matt writing to his father.  Try to use the same "voice" that a boy would speak in to his dad back in 1768.

Writing a Friendly Letter 

Merriam-Webster's Dictionary 

Information About Bees


Complete the following "chores" after you have read chapter 12. 

  1. Matt and Attean have spent some time together now, and they come from very different cultures.   Create one character scrapbook page about  Matt and one page about Attean.  Use the following website to make a scrapbook page about each character.  Keep in mind the things that have happened so far in the story.
  2. After you have created your scrapbook pages, it is time to write another letter to your dad.  Be sure to use friendly letter form.
Character Scrapbook Page


After reading Chapter 18, write your next letter: 

Think about the ways that Matt has changed since his father left. Talk about some of the things that he has learned.  Put yourself in Matt's place.  He has been teaching Attean how to read.  Attean is teaching Matt how to survive.  How would you go about teaching someone to do something?  You are a good reader.  What would you do to teach someone how to read?  Matt has been waiting for his family for a long time.  How would you feel if you were in his place?

Facts for Kids About the Penobscot Indians 


After reading Chapter 22, write your last letter:

The Indians have left and Matt is alone again.  Winter is coming.  Write a letter to your dad talking about your decision to stay with the cabin.  Remember to write as if you are Matt.  Explain the things that have happened since your last letter.


Your final chore is to be completed after you have finished reading the book.

At the end of the story, Matt has to make an important decision. After reading how he decides, you will pretend that he decided differently. You, along with your team will write an alternate ending to the story, in which Matt makes a different choice. It will help if you do some research on what living in a Native American tribe was like. Here are some websites to help you:

Penobscot Indians 

Eastern Woodlands Indians

The Woodland Indians Before White Settlers 

Learn About Native Americans