Theme is a big idea in a story. This book, The Sign of the Beaver, has many themes which we can explore. You will create a project centered around one or more of these themes.



    • Both the settlers and the Indians had to learn to survive in the wilderness. How did they do this? Did they use the same methods for survival? What do all humans need in order to survive? How did the people in the 1700s provide these needs?


    • Sometimes friendships are formed quickly. Sometimes it takes a long time for friendships to form. Some friendships are stronger than others. Matt and Attean have a unique relationship. Are they friends? Do they respect one another? How does their relationship grow and develop? How do most relationships grow and develop?

Fear and Courage

    • Life brings many opportunities to demonstrate courage, even when one is afraid. Both Matt and Attean had to face many terrifying situations. How did they handle these situations? How do you handle fearful situations? What is courage? How do people develop courage?


    • Pride can be very positive, helping one build self-esteem. It can also be a detriment to making progress. Some people, for example, have difficulty asking for help because they see this as a demonstration that they are not capable of succeeding and therefore, are not proud. There are many examples in this book of pride stopping one or both of the boys from being successful. What are these examples? How would the story change if pride was not an issue? How does pride help you in your life? How can it hold you back?

Gender Roles

    • Both the Indians and the settlers had clear gender roles in the 1700s. What were they? Do we still have gender roles today? If so, what are they? What are the reasons for gender roles? How do you feel about these reasons?


    • Matt is left behind in Maine while his father goes back to Massachusetts to gather Matt's mother and sister. Matt seems to have a strong connection to his family but after many months of being alone Matt wonders if they'll ever return. When Matt and Attean meet, Matt sees the strong family connections between Attean and his tribe. Do you feel that having a strong connection to family is important? Do you think it helps mold you as a person? What does family mean to you? Can you feel close family ties to people who are not related to you?

Image: 'I Want to Live'