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Helping Students Understand "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH"

written by: Margo Dill • edited by: Noreen Gunnell • updated: 3/2/2012

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is a great book for upper elementary students to read and discuss. These comprehension questions will help fourth and fifth grade students understand the novel and think about the characters and events.

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    Before the Rats

    These comprehension questions for Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH will help students understand why Mrs. Frisby goes to the rats, who gives her the idea, and some of the mystery that is surrounding her late husband, Johnathan. They cover chapters one through eight.

    • Why is Mrs. Frisby so concerned about Timothy's illness? (Hint: It's not just because she's his mother.)
    • When Mrs. Frisby gets medicine from Mr. Ages, she meets someone very important. Who does she meet and why is he important to the story?
    • Why should Mrs. Frisby visit the wise old owl?
    • When does the wise old owl agree to help Mrs. Frisby? (Hint: Think about what information the wise old owl learns before he tells her what to do.) Why do you think the owl liked Mr. Frisby?
    • How is Mrs. Frisby feeling about going to the rats? Do you agree with her opinion of them?
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    Learning About the Rats of NIMH

    200px-Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (1st Edition Cover) Several of these comprehension questions focus on the rats' lives at NIMH since in the middle of the book, Nicodemus tells Mrs. Frisby all about their lives before coming to the farmer's field. These comprehension questions cover chapters nine through fourteen.

    • What is Mrs. Frisby surprised to see once she is allowed to enter the rats' home?
    • Who are some of the rats that Mrs. Frisby meets when she is underground? Name at least three of these rats and describe them.
    • How do the rats know Johnanthan Frisby? Is Mrs. Frisby surprised about all she learns or did she already know?
    • What did the scientists do to the rats at NIMH?
    • What does Mrs. Frisby agree to do if the rats will help her move Timothy? (Hint: This is the same way her husband died.)
    • How did the rats escape from NIMH?
    • What is the rats' Plan? What do you think of this Plan? Do you agree with Nicodemus or with Jenner?
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    Working Together

    In the last section of the novel, Mrs. Frisby and the rats work together to move Timothy and to save the rats from the NIMH scientists. These questions are perfect for an end-of-the-book discussion or a quiz on the novel.

    • What happens to Mrs. Frisby when she tries to put powder in Dragon's food? How does this turn out to be a lucky thing for the rats?
    • How does Mrs. Frisby escape? What important information does she have?
    • What do you think of the rats' plan to move Timothy? Do they have a good idea? Were you worried they wouldn't succeed?
    • How do the rats outsmart the scientists?
    • One of the rats is missing at the end. Who is it? What does the author infer happened to this rat?
    • What do Mrs. Frisby's children think of her tale? What do they want to do in the future?
    • Are the children surprised by the secrets that their mother reveals to them? How would you feel if your parents revealed secrets like that to you?

    Use these comprehension questions for Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh with children to improve their reading skills and deepen their understanding of literature.

Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of Nimh

If you are reading Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh with children, this article series will give you ideas to help children better understand the book and for discussions of themes, characters, and events.
  1. Teaching Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH: Summary & Activities
  2. Short Chapter Summaries for Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
  3. Helping Students Understand "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH"