Lesson Plan

Salamanders Crossing: Look Out!

Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) crossing the Natchez Trace Parkway
NPS Photo


The students will learn about the life stages of the Spotted Salamander. The students will study a map and discuss the plight of the salamanders. The students will create posters to advertise the problem and present possible solutions. They may work in groups to make large posters or individually to create small posters. This lesson will help students learn that they can use scientific information to help improve human interactions with the environment.


Enduring Understanding: People can help correct past incidences of societal growth that were harmful to the environment.

Essential Question: What can I do to help protect spotted salamanders?

The students will learn:

1) the life cycle of the spotted salamander

2) where it lives

3) the life needs of the spotted salamander

4) how humans influence the spotted salamander life cycle

5) how citizens can positively contribute to an environmental problem.


The spotted salamander is indigenous to the areas surrounding the Natchez Trace Parkway. (see Teacher Information Sheet) When the salamanders breed, they usually return to the same vernal pond from which they hatched. Unfortunately for some populations, this presents a hazard as the Natchez Trace Parkway is in between their forest habitat and the vernal breeding ponds. In the spring during the first few warm rains, the salamanders migrate en masse to the vernal pools. This means that many of them are crossing the road at the same time. Unfortunately, many are killed during this reproductive migration. As time passes, the salamander population may be affected. They are not an endangered or threatened species, but they are a species that has been in Mississippi for as long as anyone knows.


1.) Spotted Salamander Fact Sheet

2.) Spotted Salamander Crossing Map

3.) Spotted Salamander Life Stages Photos

4.) Life Stages Notes Sheet

5.) Life Stages Worksheet

6.) Life Stages Worksheet Answer Sheet

7.) Poster making materials


Step 1: Discuss the life history of salamanders with students using drawings provided or photo from books and/or the internet. The students will learn that spotted salamanders live in their neighborhoods (see range map) and along the Natchez Trace Parkway but they have difficulty when it comes to surviving traffic along the Natchez Trace Parkway.


Participation in the activity.

Park Connections

Spotted Salamanders are found along the Natchez Trace Parkway and often cross the roadway.


Salamander, gills, cold-blooded, larva