Lesson Plan

Spotted Salamanders

A spotted salamander that is black with yellow spots
Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum)

NPS Photo

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Grade Level:
Biology: Animals, Ecology, Science and Technology
20 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
MS Objectives: 1a, 1d, 1e
Life Science: 3a, 3e
salamander, metamorphosis, Amphibian, spotted salamander, adaptations, poisonous, animal, life science, science, scientist, Young Scientist


The students will learn that scientists have learned that spotted salamanders protect themselves by having bright spots. The students will learn that spotted salamanders live in our neighborhoods (see teacher fact sheet) and along the Natchez Trace Parkway. They are very pretty but they taste terrible if another animal tries to eat them. Explain to the students that scientists study the salamanders to learn all about their lives.


Enduring Understanding: Animals have adaptations that help them survive. 

Essential Question: Why do these salamanders have bright spots?

The students will:

1) Correctly color a picture of a spotted salamander

2) Learn that bright spots on an animal can mean danger

3) Learn that human-made toys do not always represent reality.

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.


Spotted Salamanders have yellow spots which warn predators that they are poisonous. While not lethally toxic, their poison makes them taste very bitter to an animal that would like to eat them. Salamanders and lizards are basically different because salamanders lay eggs in water and juveniles metamorphose and lizards lay eggs on land and juveniles resemble adults.


1.) Teacher Information Sheet

2.) Spotted Salamander

3.) Photos of Salamanders

4.) Crayons

5.) Option: A loudly colored stuffed animal that is not representative of the actual coloration of the animal it represents: For example, a line green-pink polka dotted stuffed pony



Determine if the students chose the correct colors for the salamander. Be aware that some students may have color vision deficits.

Park Connections

Teaches the students about spotted salamanders, which are found on the Trace.


1.) Review the spotted salamander when teaching about other animals.

2.) The teacher may introduce the students to the concept that the salamanders have trouble crossing the roads. They do not know to look both ways before they cross the street.

Additional Resources

 Chattahoochee National Recreation Area


Poison, salamander, bitter

Last updated: January 9, 2018