Learning to Infer Using Pictures

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SWBAT make inferences using picture prompts and an anchor chart with clue vocabulary.

Big Idea

Making inferences is easy with pictures!

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

I have found that inferring can be difficult for many students, particularly young students.  I am planning to really delve in deep with this skill to make sure my students understand this important skill.  Today's lesson will be the first of several different lessons on inferring. 

I create my lessons by finding great resources from a variety of places.  I found a great website called the Curriculum Corner.  The two teachers that created this site have some great Common Core lessons for K-2 ELA lessons.  It's a free site and I downloaded some of their resources.  I am sharing them with you in this lesson but wanted to make sure I gave them credit.  For a look at their whole inferring unit, just click here.

When students draw conclusions, or make inferences, they take their experiences and combine those experiences with clues the author gives in the text or illustrations.  Today we are going to be looking at clues from illustrations and use those along with our experiences to make inferences. This addresses standards RL1.3 and RI1.3. It is important for teachers to teach our students to use the text and illustrations and not just their own personal experiences in order to infer because students need to understand that thinking and reading occur simultaneously.  When students read they should ask themselves questions such as "What is the character doing right now?  Have I had similar experiences?"  When students learn how to infer they realize that inferring is a strategy they need to use in order to support their comprehension and help them to build knowledge of various subjects.

Since inferring is a difficult skill and since a reader can infer both from pictures and text, I decided to separate these skills.  In today's lesson we are inferring from pictures.  Tomorrow's lesson will consist of inferring from text.  By having two separate lessons on inferring, I feel that the next time my students pick up a book, they will have a strong understanding that they will need to look at both the text and pictures when inferring.  

For this lesson you will want to have either your Smartboard Making Inferences With Pictures.notebook or Activboard Making Inferences With Pictures.flipchart lesson called "Making Inferences With Pictures," enough anchor charts for each student in your class anchor chart for inferring, and a picture writing prompt for each student in your class inferring writing prompts.

Introducing the Objective and Guided Practice

20 minutes

I like for my students to work in diverse groups.  Today I decided they would work with partners.  I partnered my students up and partners decided who was Person 1 and Person 2.  I gave each student an anchor chart so they could practice orally saying their inferences to their partners during our guided practice. The anchor chart would help them with their sentence starters. My students came to the carpet and sat in front of the Smartboard.

I said, "Today we are going to learn how to make inferences.  Authors don't tell us every single detail.  There are times when we look for clues and combine those clues with experiences we've had to make our best guess about details in the story. Today we are going to be doing a warm up activity and using pictures to help us make our best guesses about what is going on in the pictures."

I had this large bag with several items in it.  I said, "We have had so many snow days lately that I've decided I'm going to go on a trip.  I'm not telling you where I'm going,  I am going to pull some clues out of this bag and you will have to make an inference about  where I'm going." I started with the most obscure clues and worked my way to the more obvious.

This is what I pulled out of my bag:

  • People magazine
  • sunglasses
  • sunscreen
  • bathing suit
  • beach towel

I said, "Where do you think I want to go on my trip?  How do you know that?"  Then we talked about how they have to justify what they think and the reasons why they think that. I then went to Smartboard and said, "Now we are going to have some partner practice.  Look at some of your sentence starters on your chart.  When you talk to your partner, you can start your sentences with any of these starters.  You will tell your partner your inference then say "because" and then the reasons why you made that inference."  I modeled the first picture on the Smartboard lesson so students would know what to do. After speaking my first inference, I modeled how I would write my inference so the students could see that too.

We took the next 15 minutes taking turns making inferences.  After I let the students speak to their partners Class Discussion - Inferring With Pictures.mp4, I called on a volunteer to write their inference and their justifications on the board. 

Independent Practice

10 minutes

Now that my students had some experience with making inferences and justifying their thinking, it was time for them to do some independent practice.  I said, "Now that you've had some practice with a partner you are going to write an inference of your own.  I have lots of different pictures here.  Everyone will get a different picture.  Your job is to write your inference based on clues from the picture and justify your thinking.  Does everyone understand what to do?"

I gave everyone different pictures because I didn't want anyone sharing answers.  This would be a great assessment for me to check for student understanding.  I walked around the room, assisting students if they needed it.  I would ask them questions, wanting to know what they thought.

You can see how my students did by watching the video here: Indpendent Work - Inferring With Pictures.mp4


5 minutes

When students were done writing, I had them find their partner again.  Each student shared with their partner about why they thought making inferences were important.  They also had a chance to read their inference and justification to their partner.

I checked my student's work after the lesson.  You can see the video, Student Work Inferring With Pictures.mp4, to get an idea of what my students did.  I saw the need for reteaching.  You can read my reflection and see the independent work after I retaught the lesson in the reflection section.

Extension Activity

Once you've completed this lesson and students understand that they can use the pictures to help them infer, you can practice the skill of inferring during your read aloud time.  I have included this list of picture books Picture Books For Inferring that lend themselves nicely to the skill of inferring.  Your read aloud times are a great way to practice inferring every day.