Teaching Students to Make Inferences

Teaching Students to Make Inferences

Teaching students the differences between making inferences, drawing conclusions, and predicting outcomes can be challenging. However, it is an essential skill that helps students comprehend texts more deeply.

This blog post includes a comprehensive lesson plan for 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade students to master making inferences. The lesson includes essential questions, vocabulary, engaging activities, and resources to support students’ learning.

Don’t forget to download the handout to access the detailed lesson plan.

Making Inferences Lesson Plan

Lesson Overview: 

This lesson aims to equip students with the necessary skills to make inferences effectively. An inference involves reaching a conclusion based on evidence and reasoning. Students will learn to examine facts, evaluate information, and draw conclusions throughout the lesson.

Inference Anchor Chart:

Observation vs Inference

Students helped create this anchor chart by writing what they saw or observed while looking at the clown and what they could infer when looking at the monster. Students added their sticky notes to the anchor chart under the correct heading.

Inference Flowchart

Common Core State Standards require students to back up inferences with textual evidence. This anchor chart provides a flowchart to help students think through the process.

Hook Activity:

Have students complete this exercise to help explain the definition of inference.

Write these six words from the box on the board:

Battle of the Bulge    chariot    delegation    Hindenburg    chameleon    taxation

Read each description listed below the box. Ask students to tell which event the sentence you read describes.

  • This lizard can change the color of its skin to look like the colors that are around it.
  • This zeppelin exploded when trying to land on May 6, 1937, in New Jersey.
  • This was the last major German offensive campaign on the Western Front during World War II.
  • Soldiers drove this two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle used in ancient warfare and racing.
  • This activity means paying a percentage of a person’s income to help support the government.
  • This group of people votes or acts for someone else.

Activity #1: Brochure Fold Graphic Organizer with Video Lesson

Teaching Students to Make Inferences

Provide students with the foldable organizer from the handout. It defines and includes examples. Instruct students to complete the graphic organizer, identifying examples from texts or real-life scenarios. The video guides students through the process of completing the organizer.

Mastering Inferences
Play Video about Mastering Inferences

Activity #2: Making Inferences – YouTube

Share instructional videos from reliable sources that guide students through making inferences. Students watch the videos, follow along with the examples, and learn effective strategies for making accurate inferences.

Video - Making Inferences
Play Video about Video - Making Inferences

Textual Evidence

This video provides an overview of how to make inferences when reading. It explains what inferences are, why they are important, and how to make them using examples from various texts.

Video - Inferences and Conclusions Practice - True Move Commercial
Play Video about Video - Inferences and Conclusions Practice - True Move Commercial

Inferences and Conclusions Practice: True Move Commercial

This video provides practice for making inferences and drawing conclusions. It uses a True Move commercial as an example and asks viewers to guide students through understanding implied meanings about the characters and their motivations.


Video - Introduction to Reading Skills: Inferencing
Play Video about Video - Introduction to Reading Skills: Inferencing

Introduction to Reading Skills: Inferencing

This video provides an introduction to inferencing. It explains how inferencing can help us understand a text better.

Activity #3: Using Animated Shorts to Teach Inference

In my blog post titled “Using Animated Shorts to Teach Inference,” I provide five animated short films with organizers for students to complete while or following viewing. This high-interest activity is sure to be a hit with your students.

Activity #4 – Picture Inferences

Present a series of photos from reliable sources and ask students to make inferences based on visual clues and information. Some great online sources for this include National Geographic and The New York Times’  “What’s Going On in This Picture?” Encourage students to justify their inferences using evidence from the photos. Facilitate a class discussion to share and compare students’ inferences, promoting critical thinking and analysis.

Activity #5: Books for Teaching Inference

Teaching Students to Make Inferences

Introduce a selection of books that provide opportunities for making logical conclusions. Some books that are good for this include:

  • Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dreams For Me by Daniel Beaty
  • Duck Rabbit by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  • Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg

Allow students to choose or assign a book to each student.

Instruct students to read the selected book and identify instances where making inferences is necessary.

Conduct a class discussion to share and evaluate the implied meanings made by different students, emphasizing the evidence and reasoning used.

Activity #6: Online Games and Activities

Download the provided handout to access the detailed lesson plan and resources.

Remember, making inferences is an ongoing skill that students can continue to refine and apply throughout their lives. Encourage students to practice making inferences in various contexts, such as reading books, watching movies, or engaging in conversations. With time and practice, students will become proficient in drawing accurate and insightful conclusions based on evidence and reasoning.

Gay Miller

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