8 Fun Activities for Teaching Inference

Students need inferencing skills in all subject areas. But how do you teach inferencing? This post outlines 8 fun activities for teaching inference to students across grade levels! Grab your pen and lesson planning book; you’re going to enjoy this!

You can also grab some free inference reading passages below.

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What is a Simple Definition of Inference?

I bet, if you teach reading, you’ve heard the word “inference” before. The formal definition is when a conclusion is reached on the basis of evidence and reasoning.

But what’s a simple definition of inference? Basically, it’s figuring out things based on clues + our experience or prior knowledge.

You and your students infer just about everyday in and outside of the classroom.

The challenge is helping students transfer that everyday skill into reading text.

It really helps when students know the simple meaning of inferencing and how they are already using it to figure things out.

What is an Inference Example?

Here’s an example that may help your kiddos know how they may be already use inferencing skills:

Students walk into art class and notice large white boards or canvases on the art tables. The art teacher is wearing a smock and has bowls of water at the end of each table.

The class erupts into praise; “YAY, we are painting today!”

How were they able to make that inference?

If you presented this inference example to your students, they may mention the smock, the white canvases, and bowls of water as evidence. They may even recall from past experience that these items are used for painting.

That–ladies & gentlemen–is a simple example of how students are already inferring!

Here are more inference examples.

Why Is Inferencing So Important for Readers?

Students across grade levels needs inferencing skills for reading just about any text, including math and science.

Inferencing also serves as a prerequisite for higher order thinking skills that students use in and outside of school.

Here are other reasons why inferencing is so important for readers:

  • It helps students draw conclusions when the author doesn’t give direct details in a story. (which happens a lot!)
  • Inferencing helps strengthen other important reading skills such as making predictions and referring back to the text.

The 8 fun activities for teaching inference outlined below will help you show your students how to use their inferencing skills when reading any text.

Play Games for Teaching Inference

The first fun way to strengthen your students’ inferencing skills is with popular game boards connected to learning.

I LOVE using games when teaching procedures to my students, so I use some of the same ones when teaching inference.

For example, Headbandz is an excellent game for practicing inferences and building new vocabulary!

Your students can work in a small group with the head bands and picture guessing cards. Based on the picture plus what they already know, students work together to help the person wearing the head band figure out the clue card.

You can also recreate this game using elastic head bands from The Dollar Tree with words written on index cards.

Another fun game activity for teaching inference is the Clue mystery game board.

The game is already structured for students to:

  • dig deeper in their thinking
  • make educated guesses based on clues
  • to present all the evidence well in order to win the game

I allow students to play these inferencing games during our indoor recess time or during our Fun Friday center rotations.

Present an “Inference Scenario” Each Day

Another fun idea for teaching inferencing connects with the simple scenarios I mentioned in the game section, which is to present an “Inference Scenario” each day.

I use a simple jar. You can also get a small bucket.

Fill your jar or bucket with slips or index cards that have situations written on them. Read one each day. Your students must use inference skills to “solve” the scenario. (An example is shown above in the “example section I mentioned.)

As they give their answers to each scenario, I ask questions like:

  • What can you infer based on the details from this situation?
  • What clues helped you come to that conclusion?
  • How is this detail connected to your idea?

These types of questions are important to bridge the inferencing skills used during these games with using inferencing while reading.

Show “What Can You Infer?” Pictures

For students who really struggle to infer while reading, I scaffold my teaching by starting with images, moving on to smaller snippets of writing, then progress to paragraphs before moving onto books.

So this fun activity for teaching inferencing makes a great starting point if you notice the same challenges with your students.

You can use this Inferencing with Images slideshow to your students as a lesson hook/introduction on inferencing.

Show your students an image each day. I use free stock image websites like Pixabay or Pexels.

I keep a PowerPoint slide show of interesting images that I find. Each day, I show one or two of them and ask my students:

“What can you infer from this image?”

Depending on how much time we have, I may ask students to write their answers in their notebook.

Or we discuss the image as a class.

This approach is great for helping kids connect what they see with what they already know!

Use “What’s Going On in This Picture?” New York Times Caption Writing

I absolutely love using the New York times “What’s Going On In This Picture?” for caption writing.

Each picture needs a caption. Students write what they think the caption should be based on clues from the image.

As I scaffold my inference teaching, I include this fun activity because it helps students make educated guesses AND gets them writing more!

Plus, using the NY Times pictures saves lesson planning time if you don’t want to research and find your own images for teaching inference.

Watch Video Snippets as a Fun Way to Teach Inference

Anytime I use videos or learning apps in my classroom, student engagement soars! Kids love devices and screens.

So I show video snippets as the 5th fun way to help my students build their inferencing skills.

This animated video is just one example of a video that you can use for teaching inference.

For this specific video, I ask questions like:

  • How does the man feel? How do you know this?
  • Why does the pink octopus fight so hard to get the orange octopus back? What clues helped you figure that out?
  • What is the man’s job? Where is he taking the octopus?

Tailor your questions to fit each video’s content.

With each question that I ask, students must explain clues from the video plus what they already know when presenting their answers.

By referring back to the video or image, students will build the habit of referring back to the text when they need to infer while reading.

Practice Inferencing with Digital Task Cards & Literacy Apps

As I strive to use more Google resources and technology in my classroom, I incorporate digital task cards with my inferencing teaching.

After I scaffold instruction with games, charades, pictures, and videos, students enjoy flexing their new “inference” muscles with more text.

Digital task cards with inference stories are engaging and self-checking so my kiddos get more practice with inferencing online.

digital and printable inference task cards
See more about these Inference Digital Task Cards HERE.

You can also give your students fun “tech” practice with inferencing by using free literacy apps like these.

In addition to these, Kahoot is a free online website with a video-game like structure that works perfectly to keep students engaged with inferring practice.

Weave in Inference Exit Slips with Your Centers & Transitions

The 7th fun activity for teaching inferencing involves exit slips!

Exit slips are quick and to-the-point. They are designed to help review or take a quick assessment on student learning.

See more details on these Inference Exit Slips HERE

There are ways to use printed paper or digital/paperless exit slips when practicing inferences.

Here are some of the ways I weave in exit slips to teach, review, and assess my students’ inference skills:

  • Pass out printed inference exit slips wrap up a mini whole group lesson on inferencing. These paragraphs are just the right size to challenge students, without overwhelming them.

    Plus, I really like how students have to write their own explanation for why they arrived at the certain conclusion. Each slip forces students to refer back to the text to prove their answer.
  • I also include inference slips during our literacy center rotations.
  • Plickers are excellent free digital that work well as “exit slips” for inferencing.
  • Set up a Twitter Chat Board that serves as exit slips, which you can use for quick inference review time.

Read Mentor Texts That Are Good for Inferencing

Now for the Big Kahuna!

All of the activities mentioned above help students connect the inferencing they are already doing for everyday tasks to inferencing while reading.

So the final fun activity teachers can do to build stronger inference readers is to actually read books!

Some books naturally yield to the skill of inferencing. A few of my favorite examples are the Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing series by Judi Barrett.

Judi’s trilogy is written in a way that makes it the perfect mentor text for teaching inference.

Other books may not be as direct with inferencing, but they can still be used well for addressing the skill.

More Resources for Reading Comprehension

Inferencing is just one reading skill students need to be successful. Here are other posts dedicated to reading instruction that you may enjoy:

No time to read each post? No problem! Just pin each post to your favorite Pinterest board to enjoy later.

Happy Teaching ๐Ÿฆ‹

The Butterfly Teacher

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