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    The Sign of the Beaver
    By Harriet

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    Elementary-Reading/ A Unit for The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth Spears George

    Grades 4 or 5

    Author: L. Ferraro (LJFJR)

    Teacher Presentation: Yes

    Student Activities: Yes

    Materials Needed: Classroom set of The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Spears and worksheets made from the ideas presented.

    Lesson Time: 3 to 4 weeks

    Synopsis: The Sign of the Beaver is a story of the friendship between a young settler and a Native American. The main character is twelve year old Matt, who is left alone in the Maine wilderness to protect the family cabin until his father returns. He is befriended by an Indian clan leader and his grandson, named Attean. Attean teaches Matt how to survive in the forest and Matt helps Attean learn English. As the friendship grows, they learn to respect and appreciate each other.

    Themes: The Sign of the Beaver will enrich units of study on frontier life, Native Americans, the interdependence of man and nature, friendship, survival and ecology.

    Reading of the book: The Dell-Yearling Paperback version of the book has 25 chapters and is 135 pages long.
    When doing “Wholebook Literature” in my classroom, I prefer to read the book aloud to the class and then discuss it. The children are given time to read individually, but the entire book is read out loud. Below are eight activities that I have developed to go along with the book.
    ...........................................................................................................................................................

    ACTIVITY 1- SUMMARY-RESPONSE/PREDICTION
    I like to design a worksheet where the children can write a summary and prediction for a group of chapters. An example would be as follows:
    A. Summary Response/Prediction Chapters 1-5
    B. Summary Response/Prediction Chapters 6-10
    C. Summary Response/Prediction Chapters 11-15
    D. Summary Response/Prediction Chapters 16-20
    E. Summary Response/Prediction Chapters 21-25

    After the reading and discussing of every five chapters the students are required to write several paragraphs summarizing what has happened and then write a paragraph predicting what will happen next.
    ............................................................................................................................................................

    ACTIVITY 2- VOCABULARY
    Directions: Write the part of speech, definition, and an original sentence for each of the following words. (This may be done before, during or after the reading.)
    1. ruefully
    2. coaxed
    3. proprietors
    4. begrudging
    5. rage
    6. salvage
    7. endure
    8. defiance
    9. pesky
    10. disdainfully
    11. rigid
    12. devised
    13. contemptuous
    14. gingerly
    15. grouse
    16. loomed
    17. array
    18. boisterous
    19. pungent
    20. retorted

    You might want the children to note the page numbers where the found these vocabulary words. This can be done in groups.
    ............................................................................................................................................................

    ACTIVITY 3- COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
    These questions may either be discussed or written or you may want to use a combination.

    Chapters 1-5
    1. Why was Matt’s father leaving him alone? Why couldn’t he go with his father?
    2. Why was the loss of the gun so serious?
    3. What could Matt have done to prevent Ben from taking the gun?
    4. Matt made two big mistakes that limited his food supply. What were they? How are these two mistakes different?
    5. What caused Matt’s problem? What might have happened to Matt if the Indians were not there?

    Chapters 6-10
    1. Why didn’t Matt realize that his ankle was sprained?
    2. Why do you think Matt told the Indians the truth about his father?
    3. Why is the gift of the book important to the Indian?
    4. Why do you think Attean didn’t like Matt?

    5. Do you think Matt’s strategy for teaching Attean how to read by reading Robinson Crusoe was a good one. Why or why not?
    6. How do you think Attean felt about white men? Was he justified?
    7. What did Matt learn in Chapter 9?
    8. What do you think Attean meant when he said it would be better to die than to be a slave? (page 43)

    Chapters 11-15
    1. What did Matt want from Attean?
    2. What is the author referring to in the title of this book?
    3. Why do you think Attean taught Matt to make bows and arrows rather than make them for him?
    4. If you were Matt, would you have left the fox? Why or why not? What problems might Matt have in freeing the fox?
    5. How did Matt help Attean kill the bear? Was this a way for Matt to win respect?
    6. Why did Attean talk to the dead bear?
    7. What did Attean think was squaw work?

    Chapters 16-20
    1. Why was Matt worried?
    2. Why was Matt invited to the Indian feast?
    3. Why do you think Matt tried to save Attean’s dog?
    4. Knowing how the Indian grandmother felt about white men, why do you think she took care of Matt?
    5. How did the Indian boys trick Matt?
    6. How did Attean prepare himself for his manitou?
    7. What would be a good new name for Attean if he finds his manitou?

    Chapters 21-25
    1. What great honor did Saknis offer Matt?
    2. Do you think Matt was foolish to wait for his parents to return?
    3. Attean gave Matt a special farewell present of his dog. What special farewell present would you give to your best friend?
    4. Do you think Matt was lonely? Why or why not?
    5. What were the winter dangers for Matt?
    6. What do you think Matt’s family will think was the best story Matt had to tell? Why?
    ...........................................................................................................................................................

    ACTIVITY 4- LEARNING CHART
    DIRECTIONS: Take a sheet of lined paper and fold it in half. Title the first column "MATT LEARNED" and title the second column "ATTEAN LEARNED"- make a list of the things Matt learned in the first column and make a list of the things Attean learned in the second column.

    MATT LEARNED ATTEAN LEARNED
    ............................................................................................................................................................

    ACTIVITY 5- VENN DIAGRAM
    A Venn Diagram is a chart made up of two circles that overlap. Label the circle on the left "Matt's Daily Activities", label the circle on the right "My Daily Activities" and the overlap "Activities We Both Do." Directions for completing the chart: Compare and contrast Matt's daily activities with your own. Complete the chart by listing activities in each section.
    ............................................................................................................................................................

    ACTIVITY 6- DECISION MAKING
    Matt is faced with a serious decision in The Sign of the Beaver. He must choose between going north with the Beaver Clan or waiting alone during the winter for his family. On a sheet of paper, write three paragraphs.
    In the first paragraph complete the following: "Matt should GO north with the Bear Clan because...."
    In the second paragraph complete the following: "Matt should STAY and wait for his family because...."
    In the third paragraph complete the following: "I think Matt should....because...."
    ............................................................................................................................................................

    ACTIVITY 7- SURVIVAL CHART
    How does Matt survive in the wild? What needs does he have to have met in order to survive? Make a two column chart. Label the first column "NEEDS" and the second column "HOW HE GETS THEM" fill in the second column of the chart.

    NEEDS HOW HE GETS THEM

    1. food

    2. water

    3. warmth

    4. shelter

    5. love

    6. companionship

    7. mental stimulation
    ............................................................................................................................................................

    ACTIVITY 8- GROUP FOLLOW-UP PROJECT
    Directions: Select a partner. Pick one of the following activities to present to the class:

    1. Act out a scene from the novel. Include a written script for the teacher to follow. Be sure to use props. You may want to dress up in costumes too!

    2. Draw a picture symbol that would represent all the characters in the novel. This should be done on poster board. Be sure to write an explanation for each symbol you choose.

    3. Paint and/or color a mural showing the major events of the novel. You may wish to make it a time line. Include characters and scenery.

    4. Make a dictionary of Indian words. Decorate the cover with Indian symbols. Write the words, draw the symbol and write the meanings. You might want to add some of your own.



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