Inference Activities Part 1: Hands on Activities

Inference is an idea or conclusion that's drawn from evidence and reasoning - basically, it is an educated guess! Listen closely to not only what is said but also guess at things that were meant but not actually said. Creative story tellers provide subtle clues to readers - teach your students to be detectives and to look for these clues!

Check out these creative activities to help your students learn to draw conclusions!


What's in Mrs. Brauner's Bag

. . . and more importantly, what does it mean?

large blue purse(Substitute your name.) Don't worry guys, you can use a bookbag instead of a purse. Itinerate TVIs, you can even use that big tote bag that you haul around with you!

Load your "bag" with clues; be sure to include items that show some of YOUR hobbies and interest, or items that reflect subjects you teach! Here are some ideas:

  • car keys (does your keychain give clues? How about the number of keys and types of keys? Type of car?)
  • glasses 
  • gift card (favorite restaurant, store, etc.)
  • soft drink/water bottle/coffee cup
  • camera
  • billfold/wallet
  • coupons
  • book
  • magazine (depicting your hobby)
  • receipt/parking stub/etc.
  • clothing article: gym clothes/running shoes etc. related to your hobby
  • sport/hobby item: golf ball/swim goggles/riding crop
  • snack: healthy/junk food
  • CD: type of music/movie?
  • pet item: dog leash/cat toy
  • school related items: pencil or pad of paper with the school name?
  • item from subject you teach: calculator, contractor, counting cubes (math teacher); slate and stylus, brailled item (TVI)

Learn more about What's in Your Bag activity here.

Classroom Crime Scene Inference Activity

Set up your classroom before students arrive - misplace items, add clues, etc.  Place crime scene tape across the door. Check out the E is for Explore blog post for details!

Clues from the Trash Inference Activity

Here are a couple Trash Inference Activities! Filled orange garbage bag.

  • Teacher Trash: Choose a teacher/administrator at your school. Place "clean trash" items - that are associated with this person - in a new trash bag and have student detectives try to figure out who the "trash" belongs to.
  • Who is in the family? Did a new family move into your neighborhood? Find out more about the family by going through their "trash". How many people are in this family? Can you determine the age, gender, etc. of individuals in the family? Do they have any pets? Read more about the Great Garbage Mystery activity

Who Wears These Shoes?

This is a great activity for young students! Have a variety of shoes available - be sure to include all sizes (baby, kids, and adults) and all kinds of shoes. Start with common shoes: high heels, running shoes, baby shoes, men's dress shoes, kids' rubber boots, snow boots, etc. Be sure to includes shoes for specific activities/sports: baseball shoes, golf shoes, ballet shoes, riding boots, work boots, etc.)

Shoe Pair: (Another twist for the Shoe Game) Invite a variety of adults (teachers, parents, community workers and kids from other classes?) to your class. Ask each person to dress in an "outfit" that demonstrates their job or hobby - be sure that the shoes reflect this outfit! Place all their shoes together (in a line at the front of the room) and ask the students to make inferences about the shoes. Students can organize shoes by size and gender, if they need prompts to help match the shoes with the person.

Outline drawings of various shoes: high heel, workbooks, baby shoe, tennis shoe, flipflop, ice skate, old fashion shoe.Modification of Shoe Pair Game: You can divide students into groups and give them one or two pairs of shoes; ask each group to come up with a list of inferences. Groups can present their inferences in front of the class. Invite the guests to line up in the front of the room; each person should hold a number.  Each student group tries to  match their shoes with the correct person. If desired, provide groups with a written list of each shoe type and have each group try to match the shoes with the correct person by writing the corresponding person number beside the shoe.

Teacher Hint: Ask a student to describe what each person is wearing - this is crucial if a student with a visual impairment is in the class!

Create Your Own Inference Activity

  • App Inference: Can you draw conclusions from apps on a person's phone/tablet?
  • Holiday Crime Scene: a well know holiday figure crashed your classroom. Was it the tooth fairy, leprechaun, Easter bunny, reindeer, or ? Scatter clues around the room! Provide a back story about this figure being unhappy with "his" holiday or maybe the figure mixed up the date?
  • Student Project: Ask students to create a crime scene, bag or trash activity about a Disney Character, Star Wars character, Sesame Street Character, favorite Christmas figure (reindeer, elf, Grinch, Scrooge, etc.) Students can come up with a list of items and inferences from these lists. Have each student or group of students do a class presentation on their project.

Inferences Charts

As you do fun inference activities, include creating inference charts. With young students, you might create the chart together as a class, then use a print or digital handout that students fill out. Printable handout for younger students available from Abby here.

  • "T" Inference Chart: The title of the chart my be "What's in Mrs. Brauner's Bag?".  "Evidence" on the left side and the "Inference" on the right side. Teacher Hint: Create an accessible digital document so that ALL students have access to this chart!
  • 3 Column Inference Chart: Column headers: "What I see", "What I Know", "My Inference"  Example of text in each colum: "Halls Cough Drops", "People who are sick use cough drops.", "The owner of the bag probably has a cough."

Inference Activities Part 2: Pictures and Alt Tag Image Descriptions

Collage of Inference Activities