Rollicking Rodents by Hallie Cirino

One day, a student shared an exciting story about a mouse visiting her kitchen. Another student chimed in that his family had recently experienced the same. Afterwards, we went out to recess, and, as if on cue, a squirrel scampered by carrying a large brown nut. We all watched in fascination as it ran across the playground and stopped to dig a quick hole for its prize. Before we knew it, the children were running around outside, “foraging” for nuts, and a rodent study had begun.

Maria, my co-teacher and I, collected both fiction and non-fiction books about rodents, including many by Leo Lionni. Next we scoured the Yale Center for British Art website, seeking paintings that may portray rodents. We found this great one, entitled “The Seven Ages of Man: The Infant” by Robert Smirke.


The children needed to study the painting very closely in order to discover the mouse. They began to discuss why the mouse was there.

“Maybe it smells food,” mused Esme.

“I think it wants to be comfy and cozy,” stated Cassie.

“It might be their pet,” noted Harleaux.

“It wants to see what’s around and get a little crumb,” reasoned William.

“There’s a cat”, noted Jack before adding, “It would definitely grab the mouse if it saw it.”

The children also developed questions about rodents and did visual research—“reading” photos in books— to find the answers. They marked the pages with post-it notes and shared their findings.



Many of the children also created rodent sculptures from river rocks.

river rock mice


Tessellations are starting to appear in their journals now, and we are wondering where this will lead…

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