Lesson Plan

Salamanders Crossing: Look Out!

Spotted Salamander crossing a road
Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) crossing the Natchez Trace Parkway

NPS Photo

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Grade Level:
Third Grade-Fourth Grade
Biology: Animals, Social Studies
2 class periods
Group Size:
Up to 60 (10-15 breakout groups)
National/State Standards:
MS Objectives:
3rd Grade
Science: 3, 3a, 3c, 3d, 3e
Social Studies: 2g, 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d
4th Grade
Science: 3c
Social Studies: 2c, 3f
salamander, metamorphosis, Amphibian, spotted salamander, adaptations, community service, natchez trace parkway, resource protection, animal protection, animal population, vernal pool, instinct


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.

For the complete lesson plan, please email natr_education@nps.gov or call 1-800-305-7417. Please indicate whether or not you need an accessible lesson plan.


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.


Included in the lesson plan are:
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

Students will also need:

7.) Poster making materials



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

Last updated: January 10, 2018