Make an Inference (or Inferencing) is a foundational reading comprehension skill for first grade students. It's easily lumped in with predictions because it is in fact, a type of prediction.
To make an inference, students must use what they know (their background knowledge) and combine it with what they see/hear (text evidence) to make a guess (prediction) as to what is happening.
This sounds like an easy skill, but students have to be taught how to activate their background knowledge and link it with what they are currently seeing or hearing.
In fact, this is a skill that should be taught before you ever expect a first grade student to apply their inferencing skills to a text/read aloud.
How to Introduce Inferencing for First Grade
If you teach lower elementary, then you know that there is SO much that goes into the comprehension of a book. Students are learning so much at this age and even listening comprehension requires their little brains to work so hard.
Why do I bring this up?
Because I want you to think about how hard they are ALREADY working when they are listening to a read aloud and when you use a mentor text to introduce a NEW SKILL, most students’ brains go into overload!
So what should we do instead?
Start with a non-text activity. Let me introduce you to a new kind of “slideshow”.
I like to use interactive slideshows/powerpoints. My slideshows always follow this order:
- Teaching Slides: Introduces students to WHAT the skill is
- Guided Practice: Introduces students to HOW to apply the skill
- Interactive Practice: Gives students an example and allows them to PRACTICE the skill in an easy and concise way
Inferencing Activities for First Grade
After we practice the slideshow, then we practice building our inferencing muscles with some guided and independent practice.
I've found the best and easiest way to do this is with photographs of things that the students know a lot about.
My students do this Make an Inference station activity (seen on the left). We do one together as a class for guided practice.
Then, this activity goes into their stations for Guided Reading.
The best part about this activity is that you can leave it out for several weeks because each time students can choose a new picture!
The key to making this station activity work is to make sure the students are EXPLAINING their inference.
Students must write “I think___” but the most important part is “because I see”. It forces students to start identifying text (or picture) evidence which is crucial in the coming years.
Digital Inferencing Activities for First Grade
Whether you are teaching virtually (thanks alot COVID) or in the classroom, our students are primed now more than ever to complete activities digitally.
The Make an Inference station activity I just showed you is available digitally also!
You can read more about Digital Comprehension Tools here.
Best Books for Inferencing
**You can use the recording sheet from the Make an Inference station with all of these read alouds!