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White out the speech bubbles on several comic strips and photocopy them for the class to use. Have groups of students decide what might be going on in each frame of the comic strip. After they finish, encourage them to share their ideas with the class, as well as why they made those inferences from the pictures.
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Inferences vs. Facts
It is important for students to differentiate between facts and inferences, and this inference activity will help them to do just that. After reading a story, make a two-column chart on the board with the headings “Fact” and “Inference.” Then write various facts or inferences on sentence strips and have students put each sentence into the appropriate column. Talk to them about the difference between the facts and the inferences. Make sure that they understand that you can point to a fact in the text, whereas with an inference, you can point to something in the text that seems to hint at the inference. Make sure that students are able to point at the sentence in the text that helps them make that inference.
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Guess the Definition
Show students how to use inferences to understand unfamiliar vocabulary words. For example, write several sentences on the board such as “I didn’t want to abseculate again this winter. Last time I did it I broke my arm going down a steep hill.” Make a list of facts that students know about the nonsense word “abseculate” from reading the sentences, such as the facts that it can be done in the winter and it involves hills. Then have students come up with inferences that they can make about the word abseculate, such as the ideas that it probably requires snow and involves going very quickly.
Help students to extend these inference activities to real-life applications by choosing a real sentence in a text that contains a difficult word that can be understood from context. Have students use the same process to try to infer what the word might mean.
Inference Games and Activities
Wondering how to teach your students about making inferences and drawing conclusions? The strategies are related but different, and they can be taught in similar ways. This series of articles explains how to teach the strategies and includes activities that can help your students learn them.