Elizabeth George Speare's Sign of the Beaver











In 1768, a 12 year old boy named Matt was faced with making the biggest decision of his lifetime. His father had left him in the Maine wilderness to take care of the family homestead and had not returned as promised from taking care of sick relatives. During the father's absence, a nearby Native American tribe befriended and helped Matt survive. Matt helped teach one tribe member, Attean, how to read. It was now time for the Native America tribe to move north to new hunting grounds and they graciously invited Matt to come with them. There was no sign of Matt's father returning. What would you do? Would you go with them or stay?


When Elizabeth George Speare wrote this book she was surprised by the fact that it is a survival book. Here are her thoughts.

Here is more information about Ms. Speare herself as an author. The ideas for her first two novels came while she was researching the history of the area in which she lived. Speare's novels are known for their strong sense of place, for their compelling and positive themes, and for their historical accuracy. To Speare, fiction is the textbook for the heart.












You are faced with the decision of your lifetime. What do you do? If the Indians leave how will you take care of yourself. You will need to provide food, and water. You have the shelter of the cabin. What other things will you need to survive by yourself in the wilderness? You will need to choose a time of year -- either February, may, August or October and those choices will then guide what you need. What temperature and weather conditions must you face. What dangers surround you? What health and safety concerns might you face?

There are no stores nearby. No matches. No modern conveniences of any kind. You will need to know about the animals and plants that surround you. You will need to know how you could fish and hunt in 1768. You must know about the geographic layout of the land in Maine and seasonal changes.





















Facts about Maine

Life for early pioneers

How settlers survived

Making cloth

What people wore

Building a log cabin

Food and cooking

What food was available?

Take a Sign of the Beaver QUIZ!

View the Crocked Knife Exhibit

Elizabeth George Speare

Make the game that Matt and the indians played

See what 4th graders in Alaska did with the story!

Explore information about native Americans and technology

Learn about the Penobscot Indians here. Learn what the tribe is like today.

Their houses in 1768.













Choose a season in which you will be left in the cabin in the woods. Look at the land in Maine during the season you have chosen . How would the season affect what you would need in food, shelter, and other needs like safety?

How can you measure time since you have no wrist watch or clock? It will be important to know how much time has passed.

How will you get food?

How will you stay warm?

without electricity how will you have light at night?

What tools would you take if you could take only that which you would carry in to the cabin to make survival possible?

You are becoming very knowledgeable about some of the living conditions in Maine during the 1700's. This is important since your knowlege will determine whether you survive or not!

Keep track of your thoughts as entries in your diary. Tell about the problems you face and what you encounter. You must have at least 10 entries in your diary.














Read through your entries in your diary. Are there ten? Do they tell what you have learned and how you would survive?