Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Science and Inferences

We did a fun science lesson recently based on the book "Seven Blind Mice" by Ed Young. This classic children's book is a wonderful text for teaching about inference. While many will use it in reading class, for me it's an awesome science text. The mice go out to the pond to observe a Something and each comes back with a different theory of what the Something is. I use this book as part of our "Investigating Questions" unit in science; scientists make inferences when they work through the scientific process. It's a great text to help students understand why we make multiple observations and use multiple senses.

When I read the book, I skip showing the pages that show what part of the Something each mouse is observing (using their sense of touch). I do show them the page which shows the inference each mouse makes. Red Mouse explores the Something's leg, and infers that it is a pillar. The first six mice all observe a different part of the Something, and report back what it is; eventually this causes an argument to break out over the identity of the Something.

When the last mouse goes to investigate, she observes the entire Something and develops a seventh inference. In class we discuss why we need multiple observations and observations of the whole to make good inferences. As I read the book, I ask students to record two things: which mouse and what the mouse's inference is. We make a quick foldable by folding paper in half like this:

We keep folding it the other way until we have 8 rows. Draw lines on the folds, and use the top section for the labels. The students sat on the rug with clipboards while I read the story. They wrote down each mouse and the inference on the first time through the book.

After I read the book, I started over and showed them the pages I skipped. They added what was being observed on the left side of their foldable (notice that I messed mine up in the first row by putting the word leg on the wrong side!). We added the foldable to our interactive science notebook (we just folded it the other way so it will fit on the page of our spirals).

This picture book is written on a first grade level, but definitely engages third graders! Have you used this one in your reading or science class? I'd love to hear any other ideas for using this text.


  1. Love the idea of using this book for science! I never thought about now showing some of the pictures. Sounds very engaging.

    The Math Maniac

  2. It's fun to see the reactions of students when you go back and show them what the mouse observed. Sometimes they figure it out, sometimes they are stumped!

    Math is Elementary

  3. I love this and will definitely be using it this week. Thanks!11

    :) Nicole
    Tadpole Tidbits


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