Mystery Microscopes

Every year we start off by teaching our students how to use a microscope and the different parts! I teach microscopic organisms and microscopes are necessary to see these items. Microscopes are extremely engaging and interesting to the students, as many of them have never used one before! 


To get my students excited about learning the various parts of a microscope and how they work, I start off with a Mystery Microscope lesson. Through this lesson, the students are looking through a microscope and making observations and inferences about what they see. This is a great way to introduce microscopes in class! They don’t need to know how to use all the parts or put the microscope into focus, they just need to understand the difference between observations and inferences. 


When planning for this lesson, I knew I would need microscope slides. My biggest issues with the slides I already had was that they were unfamiliar to students. I wanted slides that are common and that my students would be able to have background knowledge about! This is when I went to Ward’s Science website and looked for microscope slides! 


The options are endless on Ward’s site! I ordered 3 boxes of slide kits to use for this lesson! Some example slides I chose for the students to look at were human hair, fruit fly, cloth, toothpaste, and sand! These are all items that my students have prior knowledge on, so they could make observations and inferences!


3 sets of microscope slides I used for this lesson: 

Exploring with a Microscope I Slide Set

Exploring with a Microscope II Slide Set

Exploring with a Microscope III Slide Set


Lesson Breakdown

Bell Ringer

Every day when the students walk in the classroom, there is a bell ringer on the board. To get the students prepared for the lesson, their bell ringer was about observations and inferences. I got a picture from Google for this. I chose a picture of the Chicago Cubs celebrating a walk off homerun. You can also just search “Observation and Inference Picture” and hundreds of great options come up! Their bell ringer was to make two observations and one inference of the picture. We had done one activity prior on observations and inferences, so this was a quick review! 



Next I did an example with the students. I wanted to model good observations and pictures before releasing the students to complete this on their own. I got a picture of salt under a microscope, although I did not tell the students it was salt! Together we made two observations, drew what they saw, and made an inference. 


I used 20 of the Ward microscope slides for this lesson! I divided the lesson into two days. The first day included the bell ringer, example, and instructions, so we only got through 8 slides. The second day the students finished the remaining 12 slides. I gave the students 3 minutes per station and they were in groups of 3 or four. This gave them time to each look through the microscope, make observations, draw what they saw, and make an inference. I had the microscopes placed around the room so the students rotated to the next microscope. 


At the end of the 2nd day, I revealed the answers to the students. They were so shocked at some, but were also proud of how many they got correct!

The microscope slide kits from Ward’s were the perfect addition to my Microscope unit this year. I love how quick they came, the storage box they came in, and that the items were familiar to the students. These kits were perfect for an introductory microscope lesson.


Great news!! Ward’s has given me a discount code for all of you! Ward’s is giving you 15% off your total order plus FREE SHIPPING with the code: WARDSWORLD15MM 


Offer valid on web only at To activate offer, use promo code at checkout. Offer expires 10/31/19. Free shipping includes standard ground shipping only and excludes items with hazardous shipping; standard hazardous shipping fees will apply. Unless otherwise specified, contract discounts and special offers may not be applied to any item priced with a final digit of ‘9’ (i.e. $6.99; $10.09; $129.99.) Offer excludes Somso models due to custom nature of the product. Offer excludes all Triumph Board products. Promotional discounts also may not be combined with other offers, discounts, contracts, or promotions. For more details, visit Selected items may be or contain chemicals, live materials, or hazardous materials and may be restricted for purchasing by educational institutions only. To purchase restricted items, please log into with your Full Web Profile, or create a new Full Web Profile here using your school’s Shipping Account Number. A full profile also allows you to pay with purchase orders, receive tax exemptions, contract pricing (if applicable), and other advanced features.  Don’t know your Shipping Account Number or not sure what it is? We can help. Email or Click to Chat on the profile registration page and a Ward’s Science Representative will help you locate your Shipping Account Number or apply for a new one.) 



  1. Olivia Bliss
    October 10, 2019 / 10:08 pm


    Where can I get the Mystery Microscopes worksheets?


  2. Jill
    October 16, 2019 / 2:43 am

    Is the mystery microscope page available in your store. I’m not finding it!

  3. J. Brooks
    June 28, 2020 / 4:40 pm

    Where can I access your Mystery Microscopes pages? I looked in your store on TPT and could not find it.

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