One of the reading comprehension strategies that I love teaching is making inferences. What I’ve learned from being in the classroom (and from my own kiddos) is that kids already make inferences all day long. We just have to bring this abstract idea into a more concrete concept that they can practice in reading.
For example, if a child hears a certain tone in their mother’s voice, they can infer their mom is probably upset based on her tone and past experiences. If a friend comes to school saying the tooth fairy visited, they can infer their friend lost a tooth. See? Making inferences is a part of our everyday life. We just need to teach our young readers how to apply it to reading.
To help get you started teaching making inferences, I have a FREE lesson plan that you can download today to use with your students. It has everything you’ll need for an engaging lesson to help build reading comprehension skills for your students.
Along with the lesson, I have a few tips to help make teaching making inferences more effective. Check them out and get ready to write some great lesson plans of your own!
Implement Sentence Stems
Before I dive into a lesson, I often model using sentence stems while I think out loud. This helps provide students a framework to practice academic language. It also helps our ELLs, too.
Some of the sentence stems for making inferences I like to incorporate include:
- I can infer… because…
- Perhaps… because…
- I know that… The book said… So I can infer…
Use Anchor Charts
Creating and using anchor charts in the classroom helps students understand and apply new things. In all of my read aloud lessons, I include an anchor chart you can use to help you teach the reading strategy. Anchor charts have many benefits including:
- Making thinking visible
- Emphasizing literacy in the classroom
- Encouraging students to engage in writing with you
- Becoming a reference tool for students
You can create an anchor chart like mine with sentence stems to help remind students of their new academic language and vocabulary.
Use Read Alouds, Pictures, and Scenarios to Help Teach Making Inferences
One way to introduce making inferences is to pick a high-quality read aloud to use. Interactive read alouds get our students engaged with a text through thoughtful conversations and teaching. You can stop and ask students questions, gather information and text evidence, and share background knowledge to make inferences as you read.
You can also introduce making inferences by offering students scenarios and asking them to think about them. For example, you can describe a career and have students infer what the job is. Or you can describe situations in everyday life that students would be familiar with like:
- grabbing an umbrella, raincoat, and boots (it’s raining)
- eating cereal, muffin, fruit, and juice at a meal (it’s breakfast)
- walking by a classroom and hearing singing and instruments (it’s music class)
Another idea is to create a mystery bag of objects and have students guess where you might be going. For example, you could put a list, reusable totes, and a wallet in a bag for students to infer you are going to the store. You can make a beach bag, a sleepover bag, etc.
Finally, another way to introduce making inferences is to show students different pictures and have them infer what’s going on. You could find pictures of a child crying (with some clues) and have students infer why. The possibilities of using pictures are endless!
In the free Let’s Infer Mystery Mailbox lesson, I created a fun mystery mailbox activity that guides students to make inferences about who could have sent some mysterious postcards. Your students will love it!
Use Meaningful Activities to Provide Guided Practice
After modeling how to make inferences and providing students with sentence stems, give them different ways to practice. You could read a book aloud and have students complete several “stop and jots” where they jot down inferences they made from the book. You can also have students record their evidence to support that inference.
Additionally, students can create their own scenarios for each other to make inferences with. This can be an activity to do in a small group or individually. This is a great extension to really stretch those students who seem to grasp making inferences.
This is an activity that students can do in the FREE lesson I shared!
Assess and Reteach Making Inferences as Needed
Remember to continually evaluate your readers and see if they are understanding this reading skill. You can monitor their reader’s response journal and guided practice to see their thinking.
Here are a few things to consider while informally assessing students:
- Does this inference make sense?
- Did the student use text evidence to support their inference?
- How did the student incorporate schema into making their inference?
Sometimes teaching this reading comprehension strategy can feel tricky. Just remember: what the book says+ what I know = making an inference.
If you want more great interactive read aloud lessons about making inferences, check out the full Let’s Infer Unit. It has everything you’ll need to teach making inferences with 7 days of activities and lessons. It has:
- Interactive Read Aloud Notes & Reading Strategy Notes
- Example Teaching Schedule
- Reading Strategy Anchor Chart
- Reader’s Toolbox Strategy Tool
- 7 Scripted, Detailed Lesson Plans
- Digital Components: Digital Resource Guide and Links for digital anchor charts and assessment page
Grab your FREE lesson today! If you loved it, check out the Let’s Infer Interactive Read Aloud Unit to keep teaching.