Accurately making Inferences will be one of the most important reading skills your student will have to do in more sophisticated literature and non-fiction, standardized tests up through ACT/SAT/AP. If you live in a state that uses common core, your state test more than likely asks an inference question involving evidence for EVERY question on the reading test grades 3-8. Most teachers who are not trained reading teachers (which most are NOT) do not teach the explicit skill on training the brain how to make an inference. Here are easy ways to do this at home:
1. Order mysteries for your student to practice. Good ones are Two Minute Mysteries by David Sobol grades 4-6 and 5 Minute Mysteries by Ken Webber or Stan Smith for grades 7-10 (both pictured). Any book of mysteries will do from the library or amazon/booksellers. In mysteries, students have to piece together what clues they get in the story + what they know about the subject in the text (background knowledge)= inference about what happened. Another GREAT logic building tool for inference practices are from Will Shorts Brain Busters (pictures below). I have some scanned in my google drive for use.
2. Using pictures to have students make inferences about what is happening in the picture is an easy practice. Family photos, images online about specific historical events or even award winning picture books such as Free Fall are really good resources to develop this skill. I like to teach Black history so I use the book freedom with pictures that depict Black history. Amazing way to make inferences on what’s happening in the pictures. You may have to give background (such as the Thurgood Marshall pic below— if your kid don’t know him, they’ll need to read a quick bio or watch a video first before trying to make an inference). Kill 2 birds with one stone— google images from Black History events, have kids research the background on the event and have them make an inference about what’s happening in the pic.
3. Quotes from famous people and then guess the meaning. You can use quotes about a specific topic such as education and use this Inferencing graphic organizer to break it down (examples pictured below)
4. Political cartoons are amazing for this grades 7+. You can easily download political cartoons from images on google. You may have to teach some background, but basically you can use the Inferencing graphic organizer to 1) have students say what they see in the pic 2) list baclground information they need to make sense of this 3) make inference by drawing a conclusion about the picture. Sample from this political cartoon below.
These are easy inference building activities to help begin with your student. If you want more teaching at home activities let me know and I’ll send you a link to my inference activity folder on google drive. Let me know if you have questions l—email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscribe to get the latest on FB, Youtube at The Savvy Urban Educator or on twitter @thesavvyurbaned.
Next, I’ll tackle teaching your student a sophisticated inference skill that they must learn to do: PARAPHRASING.