The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
A WebQuest for fifth Grade 
Designed by 
Jenn Hebel, Arlene McMillan, Julie Speidel, Messiah College 


The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth George Speare, leads us through the adventures and challenges of a young boy named Matt as he struggles to survive as one of the first settlers in the Maine wilderness. This webquest is designed to help you share some of Matt's adventures before, during, and after you read the story.

Is this book right for you? A good way to find out is to pick a page in the book (any page) and read the whole thing. If you come across five or more words that you do not understand, then The Sign of the Beaver may not be the best book to pick for this project.

Your Adventures       Evaluation


Your Adventures

You have three adventures to embark upon as you read The Sign of the Beaver. You will complete your first adventure, Exploring Maine, before you begin reading the book. Your Survival adventure will be completed as you read the story, and when you have completed reading The Sign of the Beaver, you will complete your Native American adventure. Choose one challenge from each adventure to complete. Follow the instructions for each challenge, and be prepared to share your discoveries with your class. Good Luck!

Before Reading - Exploring Maine

During Reading - Survival

After Reading - Native Americans

Exploring Maine

Challenge One:   Brochure

  Create a brochure enticing travelers to visit Maine. Pictures and colorful descriptions will help promote Maine, the Pine Tree State! Please include the following:

  1. Places to visit in Maine. (2)
  2. Products for which Maine is famous. (3)
  3. Wildlife in Maine. (2)
  4. Things to do in Maine. (3)

Challenge Two:   Map of Maine

  Show off your map-making skills! Create a detailed map of Maine to help travelers as they tour Maine. Include all starred (*) items and two more.

  1. Rivers and Lakes
  2. Parks
  3. Shape of the land -- mountains, valleys, etc.
  4. *Three main cities
  5. *State Capital
  6. Major Roads

Check out these websites...they may help you in your quest!


Challenge One:   Growing Corn

*This challenge is to be completed after you finish reading chapter 11.*

  Matt had to attend his family's crop of corn every day so that they would have food to survive. Now you get to discover the challenges of growing corn! Plant a few kernels of corn and record your efforts and the kernels' growth. When the corn starts growing, bring it to school and show the whole class! You'll find instructions for planting and a chart to document your corn's growth at

Happy growing!

Challenge Two:   Bears

*This challenge is to be completed after you finish reading chapter 15.*

  Bears are one of the most common animals in Maine, as Matt discovered the hard way. Use the Internet to research the characteristics of brown bears and write a two-page informational summary of what you learned. Be sure to include:

  1. Habitat
  2. Size and appearance
  3. Food and diet
  4. Breeding and reproduction

These sites will help you find the information you need:

Native Americans

Challenge One:   The Susquehannock Tribe of Pennsylvania

  Hundreds of years ago, south-central Pennsylvania was home to the Susquehannock tribe. It is your mission to discover more about these interesting people. Compose a two-page paper about the Susquehannocks, including the following information:

  1. The tribe's population
  2. Origin of the tribe's name
  3. Their culture
  4. History of the tribe (time period, famous leaders, etc.)
  5. Why they are no longer living here

Challenge Two:   A Native American Village

  Create a model showing how the Susquehannock tribal village might have been set up. Be as factual as possible, but show off your originality and creativity in designing your village! You might choose to use a shoebox and construction paper or use your imagination in coming up with a different way to represent a tribal village.

Check out these websites for the information you'll need:


  You and your teacher will use the following rubric to assess the projects that you complete during your adventures with this webquest and The Sign of the Beaver.
3 2 1 0
Neatness and Grammar All drawings and writing are clear and easy to read, and there are no mistakes in grammar. All drawings and writings are clear; there are two or fewer mistakes in grammar. Writing and drawings are sloppy, but can be read; there are several mistakes in grammar. Writing and drawings are too unclear to understand; there are several mistakes in grammar.
Facts A wide variety of facts are used to create a clear representation the adventure's topic. Has all criteria specified for the project. A variety of facts are used, creating a somewhat clear representation of the adventure's topic. Is missing one of the specified criteria. Uses some factual information, but not enough to clearly represent the adventure's topic. Missing two or three of the criteria mentioned. No factual information is used to create a representation of the adventure's topic. Is missing four or more of the criteria mentioned.
Creativity and Originality Work reflects student's thoughtful ideas to create a very unique display of the challenge chosen. Work reflects some of the student's unique ideas to display the challenge chosen. Some, but not all, of the work uses the unique ideas of the student. Work is obviously not unique to the student.
Effort The project reflects the fullest use of the student's abilities. The project reflects the use of a good deal of time and abilities. The project would have benefited from a more complete use of the student's abilities. The project reflects little or no use of the student's abilities.
Completed on Time The project is completely submitted on or before the deadline. The project is submitted one or two days late. The project is submitted three or more days late. No project is submitted.

The maximum number of points for each project is fifteen. Add the score obtained in each category to get the final score for your project. Congratulations on completing your challenge! Attean and Matt would be proud!