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Red Spotted Newt Unit Study

Updated on February 13, 2014

The Red Spotted Eft a Salamander Unit Study

Have you ever walked through the woods on a wet spring day and seen bright red salamanders scurrying across the leaf litter? Salamanders need the moisture of the forest floor to keep their skin damp in order to breathe. Just like frogs, salamanders are amphibians.

Today we will begin an exploration about Red Spotted Newts a kind of salamander found in the forest of eastern North America. What makes a salamander an amphibian? Why are some salamanders red? Where can you find salamanders? Could you keep a salamander in your room?

In this unit study we will be reading and writing about salamanders, learning the history and science of salamanders, drawing and painting salamanders, and even learning math with a salamander theme.

Step out into the forest and keep your eyes wide open. Let's look for salamanders...

Photo Credit: Red Eft (Notophthalmus viridescens) by DaveHuth

Used under creative commons

Red Salamanders in the Leaf Litter - Finding Red Salamanders

Red Eft
Red Eft

Photo Credit: Red Eft

Used under creative commons

Come take a walk with me to the waterfall across the field and through the woods near my Bed and Breakfast. First we walk across the dew laden grass until we get to the standing stones. The grass is wet because the air has been saturated with moisture and falling temperatures over the night caused water droplets to form on every available surface.

Our boots get wet as we walk across the field and enter the forest. We walk between rows of stone walls and finally reach the bank of a brook where the path leads to the left down to the level of the babbling brook. Now it is time to keep our eyes peeled.

Sweep your eyes left and right looking for salamanders. Their red bodies make finding them easy. Salamanders come out on damp wet days like today.

Salamander Language Arts

The Salamander Room - Salamander for a Pet

Brian tries to convince his mother to let him keep a salamander as a pet. His mom tries to explain that his room is not the right habitat for a salamander while Brian imagines what would need to happen to his room to make it the ideal habitat for salamanders.

I have read this book to many children and all have been delighted. What an imagination Brian has!

After reading the story, have the children create dioramas of Brian's room transformed into the ideal Salamander habitat.

Red Eft, the terrestrial phase of the Red Spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens)
Red Eft, the terrestrial phase of the Red Spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens)

Photo Credit: Red Eft by Putneypics

Used under creative commons

Have you ever seen a salamander?

See results

Salamander Tales - Stories about Salamanders

Big Night for Salamanders
Big Night for Salamanders

A boy and his parents help the salamanders cross the road to get to vernal pools on a rainy night.


Salamander Math

Salamander Science

Field Guide to Salamanders - Identify Salamanders

For general information about amphibians and how to recognize the difference between salamanders and other amphibians, be sure to check out the Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians.

A Field Guide to Reptiles & Amphibians of Eastern & Central North America (Peterson Field Guide Series)

Available on Amazon

When you are looking for specific information on salamanders, here is the most complete and up to date guidebook available on salamanders of North America. This field guide includes photographs, physical descriptions and taxonomy.

Salamander Egg! - Close-up of a Spotted Salamander Egg!

Salamander Egg
Salamander Egg

Photo Credit: Salamander Egg

Used under creative commons

Let's look closely at the salamander egg. Notice that there are two walls to the egg with clear substance between the outer layers with the salamander embryo swimming in the inner sphere. In the inner sphere you will see green algae that is beginning to grow. This algae is food for the developing salamander.

Salamander Habitat - Exploring Salamander Habitat

Set up a Sensory Table experience for your children. Add leaf litter gathered on your trip to the forest where salamanders were found. If you do not live in an area accessible to a forest, add potting soil and fallen leaves. Then add plastic animas to represent animals that share the forest habitat with salamanders.

As you read and learn more and more about salamanders, notice how the children change their play in the sensory table to reflect their new found knowledge.

Sensory tables are not just for pre-schoolers. This imaginative play is important for children as a pre-writing process and can lead to amazing stories for older children as they work out scenarios and plots while playing with the animals in the salamander habitat.

Red-Spotted Newt...

by George Grall

Available on Allposters

After the salamander eggs hatch they live underwater for a time as red-spotted newt larvae or tadpoles. Notice the dragon-like growths coming out of their heads. Aren't they adorable? They are the salamander's gills. As the newt larvae mature, these gills are absorbed and the salamander's lungs develop, its skin turns red and the tadpole becomes an eft transformed into its terrestrial stage.

Red Spotted Eastern Newt
Red Spotted Eastern Newt

Photo Credit: Holding a Salamander

Used under creative commons

Red Spotted Newts are delicate so it is important to catch and hold them gently. Squat down slowly so as not to attract attention. Reach out both hands and quickly scoop up the salamander with a cupping motion. Red Efts are light and tickle against the skin of your hand. Carefully open your hands just enough to see the salamander.

Look at its skin. Is the belly of the eft lighter than the back? Notice the spots. How are they formed? Are they complete circles? Are they round?

How many toes does your salamander have? Does it have the same number on the front and back?

Look into the face of your newt. What do you notice? Are the eyes on the sides, top or close together?

Salamanders excrete a mild poison so be sure to wash your hands after holding your eft.

Have you ever picked up a salamander?

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Salamander Music

Frog, Toad, Polywog - Amphibian Song

Here is a delightful song about amphibians. It features frogs, toads and polywogs but also includes salamanders and water dogs. Your children will love to sing along, maybe dance too as they learn a bit more about salamanders and their cousins.

Salamander Art

Writing about Salamanders

Come write about your salamanders on Wizzley, a fun and easy place to express your opinion:

Tell us about your salamander experiences. Have you ever seen a salamander? Have you ever picked one up? Have you read The Salamander Room? Would you like to have a salamander for a pet?

Salamander Salutations!

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    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      I love thematic units like this. Pinned to my homeschooling and teaching board - digg-ed and blessed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Love this lens! O is for Olm a type of salamander and G is for Gills. Some Salamanders have gills even as adults.

    • yayas profile image

      yayas 5 years ago

      Nope! I'm not fond of being up close an' personal with salamanders an' some other amphibians.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Lovely Lens.

    • profile image

      faber80 5 years ago

      I definitely would like to have a salamander for a pet...

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      As a Child I did many of these things, not just Salamanders also Frogs, Spiders and even Bees! I was fearless as a Kid, now even more so as an Adult. I remember feeding Daddy Long-Legs to Yellow Jackets, It was Cool to Watch them actually eat the Spider!! :)

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      I've never seen a red salamander in the wild, but we have lizards in our garden. I pick them up during rescue missions when our kitten gets playful. They have quite a grip, but seem grateful when released in the neighbor's ivy. Beautiful lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What a lovely red salamander - the colors are brilliant

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Congratulations on receiving your purple star

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I haven't picked up one but we had several in our garden when I was growing up and some are quite big.

    • profile image

      Breitling_Super_Avenger 5 years ago

      What I liked most is it's Color. It's pretty attractive.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      A beautiful lens - Angel Blessings from me

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      beautifully done

    • profile image

      gradientcat 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens, I'll have to show my kids. We had two salamanders as pets when I was young, one had a red belly, the other was green.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Lovely ways to learn about salamanders.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 5 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Yes I've seen a few salamanders in my time - didn't pick them up though, I just leave that to my daughter! Now I learned they do actually excrete some poison but just wash it off - glad to know that! Angel blessed

    • MarcoG profile image

      Marc 5 years ago from Edinburgh

      G is for Gekko?

    • marigoldina profile image

      Heather B 5 years ago

      There aren't any in our region. How I'd love to see one!

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      The ones here in France are brilliant green or violent black and yellow. Spectacular.

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 5 years ago

      Yet another amazing page by you..always so special

    • mel-kav profile image

      mel-kav 5 years ago

      Very interesting lens!

    • intermarks profile image

      intermarks 5 years ago

      I have not seen any before, but I do think it is quite beautiful creature.

    • bagskartIndia LM profile image

      bagskartIndia LM 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your lens..

    • profile image

      AngryBaker 5 years ago

      I must have read The Salamander room a thousand times to my kids...I always wanted to actually find one in the wild, but never have.

    • profile image

      mumsgather 5 years ago

      The amphibians song is delightful.

    • profile image

      grannysage 5 years ago

      This brought back memories of all of the salamanders my children brought home and kept in the bathroom. It was quite startling to flip on the light switch and see those eyes staring at me from the sink. Very colorful and unit.

    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 5 years ago from London

      Angel blessings for a jam packed, bumper bundle of Salamaders...thank you Evelyn! it was a wonderful read.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

      About as close as I've been is reading The Salamander Room and looking at field guides. So I learned a lot here.

    • profile image

      NESHRIE 5 years ago

      a unique article, such lovely creatures

    • MelissaRodgz profile image

      MelissaRodgz 5 years ago

      What a great an informative lens on Salamanders.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Another wonderful unit study Evelyn, lovely work. The children you teach must love these. Nice work, blessed.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 5 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I saw TONS of these cute little critters on the Appalachian Trail, specifically in Vermont. I tried so hard not to step on them, as they were everywhere, crossing the trail. I once actually saw a salamander riding on the BACK of a slug ... as if that were a faster way to get anywhere. (?) Recently saw a salamander in Yosemite National Park, which the ranger later told us is very poisonous (if you eat it, which we wouldn't).

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      I love them. I've always wanted an Axolotl (Mexican salamander) with its frilly gills. Beautiful lens.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      Wonderful salamander unit. Wish I had some of these unique creatures living nearby.

    • profile image

      ravenwynn 5 years ago

      Very informative, great lens!

    • profile image

      cleanyoucar 5 years ago

      Haven't seen one in person, just on tv... and this lens, great job!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've never seen a salamander, much less held one. I'd like to hold one, but I think I'll pass on having one as a pet! Great job on this lens.

    • monstarfitness profile image

      monstarfitness 5 years ago

      salamanders are so cool!

    • profile image

      amanda2x 5 years ago

      Mother nature gives us amazing things!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 5 years ago

      Fun lens, we are studying animals this year with Apologia's Exploring Creation: Land animals of the 6th day and we learned about salamandars.

    • neuromancer lm profile image

      neuromancer lm 5 years ago

      I love lizards and similar animals and this salamander looks absolutely awesome. I would like to have one if it were possible :)

    • najem lm profile image

      najem lm 5 years ago

      Really informative and useful lens. I did not know that Salamanders are so cute animals.

    • prikazen profile image

      prikazen 5 years ago

      Thanks for additional info about slamaders :)

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      A very nice and very educational lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      That is the most interesting little critter I've seen in a while.

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 5 years ago

      I have none experience with salamander. I saw a few in the ZOO recently though :)

    • MargaretJeffreys profile image

      MargaretJeffreys 5 years ago

      I love these creatures. Nice information!

    • ferginarg lm profile image

      ferginarg lm 5 years ago

      No sure if Amy read your lens properly "lizards"?? Salamanders are amphibians not lizards.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Good study on newts.. your lens is worth reading :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Exellent. I love tiny Lizards. :)

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 5 years ago

      I learned a lot about salamanders from this lens. Thanks for being such a great teacher and source of inspiration.

    • profile image

      YourFirstTime 5 years ago

      This looks like such an interesting animal. I know kids will love studying it.

    • arcarmi profile image

      arcarmi 5 years ago

      I've seen many! Very cool article! Nice job!

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      Salamanders are truly beautiful and delicate creatures. Lovely lens!

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 5 years ago

      I agree, your lenses are always so informative. You totally rock!!

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 5 years ago

      Very cool lens. Brought back some memories of searching in the woods down the road from my house on a rainy day and picking up the little bitty fellas. Fun read.

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 5 years ago

      I like reading your lenses, your doing a great job keep up the good work!

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 5 years ago

      Saluting you on a great lens where I can learn about salamanders! Loved it and blessed!