A Quick and Easy Guide to Teach Inferencing to Students

What is the skill of inferencing?

Inferencing is one of those tough skills to teach but a necessary skill for students to practice and develop so that they can get the most out of a text. Being able to make inferences is all about using your background knowledge and experience to make new connections. For example, you asked your student to read the sentences “Martha is still hungry.” and “Her mother is baking cookies in the oven.” Our job is to help students infer something from these two sentences. After telling students these two sentences, you can make an discuss what Martha might do next.  Most students will probably say that Martha will ask for cookies. You can ask your students how they came to that conclusion. We draw conclusions after we consider the evidence.

What is the skill of drawing conclusions?

Drawing conclusions requires students to use the inferences that they have figured out to understand the big idea. For example, in the previous example, “Martha will ask for cookies” was our inference. If we were to draw conclusions from these two sentences, we might say that Martha did not have enough to eat for breakfast, or maybe she was at school and forgot her lunch. Drawing conclusions is about thinking what the big picture might be, of course we would need more clues aside from those two sentences!

Making Inferences and Drawing Conclusions are Important for Reading Comprehension

These two skills are important for students as it will help them understand what they are reading. Inferencing is a skill that transfers over to critical thinking that is especially important for science, social studies, and other disciplines etc. It is also a tool that students will apply throughout their lifetime in problem solving and different contexts.

Fun Activities to Teach Students Inferencing and Drawing Conclusions

It is a good idea to model inferencing and drawing conclusions in your read alouds. Here are some activities that you can do to practice making inferences with your students.

Make Inferences

Mystery Bag

All you need is a cloth bag and fill it with items of your choice that is specific to an activity. Then, you give it to your students and ask them to identify the items. After that, ask them where the person with this bag would go next. For example, you can add a bottle of sunscreen, a pair of shades, and a towel let your students guess that the person wants to go to the beach. Think about different things that we do during the week and put real items or pictures of items in a bag and play this game! You can read my blog post where I use Diary of a Worm with this method.

Picture Puzzles

Show students two sequential photographs. For example, show a picture of a kid running on the street, followed by another picture of running towards a small rock on the road. Let your students think about what would happen next to the person in the picture. You can ask them to say it out loud as an answer or let them draw it.

Picture Books without Words

For an even greater challenge, show your students a sequence of pictures based on a story you want to introduce to them or a story that you have read to them in the past month. Then, ask your students to retell it in their own words while making it shorter. The wonderful thing about wordless books is that it really requires the reader to observe what is going on and make a guess based on their observations!

Switch Stories

For this activity, group your students into pairs. Each person writes down an event that happened to them last week. Then hands the paper to the other student who adds on their inference of what happened next.

Inferencing and drawing conclusions are skills that students need to develop. I hope that in this blog post you were able to take away some ideas on how to apply teaching inferencing in your classroom.

If you want more resources to help make your classes fun while helping your students learn, don’t forget to sign up to The Blue Brain Teacher’s Free Resource Library! You can also check out an activity I made to help you to teach inferences here.

Have any more tips on teaching inferencing and drawing conclusions to students? Comment them down below!