What's Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew?

This activity uses a short illustrative narrative (a fancy name for a picture book), "What’s Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew?", by Robert E. Wells, to help students begin to develop mental images of the size, scale, and structure of the atomic world. Its clear illustration and direct, engaging narrative is well suited for middle school students. The picture book's format shouldn’t mislead you or your students into thinking it’s an “easy” book. The contents of this book are very appropriate for middle school students. There are number of activities which precede the actual reading of the text. These pre-reading activities are meant to help expose previous misconceptions and identify what students may already know.

Pygmy Shrew Vocabulary Guide

Ranking Objects By Relative Size

Student Assessment



  • One or more copies of What’s Smaller Than a Pygmy Shrew?
  • Copies of Vocabulary Guide, Ranking Objects by Relative Size, and Student Assessment worksheets
  • Pen or pencil
  • Markers or colored pencils