Simple Inference Practice Activities – Read Like a Detective!

Inference practice activities like these will have your students reading like detectives in no time! Begin with guided practice. When you point out key terms, kids become more observant. Throughout the school year, provide short exercises to improve inferring.

Looking for some simple inference practice activities? You've come to the right place!

Our favorite fourth grade teacher stood in front of her class. “Today,” she said, “we use some inference practice activities to read like detectives. They will get you ready for our mystery genre study – and make you better readers.”

At the mention of their upcoming reading unit, the students sat up straighter. Some smiled and others clapped. Yep, Ms. Sneed had their attention.

Start with Guided Inference Practice Activities

“First,” said the teacher, “I’ll read you a short excerpt from a story. Then I’ll ask some questions. Remember, for these inference practice activities, you need to pay close attention.”

“You mean read like a detective!” called out a student in the back.

Part 1

Ms. Sneed smiled. Then she began to read aloud:

As Raul made his way through the darkness, dry leaves and branches crackled beneath his feet. The wind howled through the branches, and the ew remaining leaves rustled in response. Raul shivered.

Ms. Sneed looked intently at her class. “Okay, here’s your first question. Where is Raul?”

“In the woods,” one student responded.

“How do you know?”

“The leaves and branches are a dead giveaway,” another child called out.

The teacher smiled. “Question 2: When does this story take place?”

In a short amount of time, Ms. Sneed’s students established that the time frame: at night (due to the darkness) in the fall or early winter (because of the few remaining dead leaves beneath Raul’s feet).

“Great detective work!” the teacher exclaimed. Secretly, she was pleased that even her weakest readers were participating – and inferring.

Use oral inference practice activities to explicitly model inferring.

Part 2

Now she read the next part:

Suddenly, Raul heard a voice. ‘Who? Who?’ Again, he shivered and pulled his jacket closer. From a nearby tree, two golden eyes peered at him.

“Next question,” said Ms. Sneed. “Who said ‘Who? Who?'”

Because of the golden eyes peering at Raul from the tree, they quickly established that it was an owl.

Before moving on, the teacher decided to ask one more question. “Why do you think Raul shivered?”

The class was split. Some kids thought he was cold; others thought he was scared. Lively debate about things in the story indicating he might be cold (time of year, pulling his jacket closer) and things that would make him scared (darkness, noises, an owl) broke out.

Ms. Sneed smiled. “Once again, great detective work! Maybe Raul is both cold and scared. In this passage, the author lets the reader decide.”

Parts 3 & 4

As the teacher continued to read, the class worked on more inference practice activities. They inferred that:

  • large, triangular shapes in a clearing were actually tents.
  • a woman was worried because Raul was lost in the woods.
  • the woman was an adult (probably his mother) because she shed a tear and had to bend down to kiss him.

As they finished the story, Ms. Sneed again smiled. Yes, modeling with a short story was a great springboard to their future reading comprehension exercises.

Provide Shore Inference Practice Activities Throughout the Year

The next day, Ms. Sneed continued their inference practice activities with a short prompt:

Mr. Fernandez walked int the room, picked up some chalk, and began to write on a chalkboard. A bell rang, and children filed in. What profession does Mr. Fernandez have?

“That’s easy! A teacher,” said a student in the front row.

“I need evidence,” Ms. Sneed said.

“Well, even though you don’t use chalk or have a chalkboard, Ms. Sneed, some teachers still do. Also, a bell rang, and kids came in.”

“Good job!”

“More!” the students called out.

“Okay, just one more.”

Ms. Sheriff listened to the directions through her headset. Watching the signal lights below her, she pulled back on the throttle and felt the wheels touch the pavement.

Silence greeted the teacher as she looked up. “An Uber driver?” one child tried.

“Hmm,” said Ms. Sneed, “this one is more difficult. Let’s explore a few things in the middle of the text. Ms. Sheriff sees signal lights below her.

“Is she up in the air?” asked one child.

“After she pulled back on the throttle, she felt the wheels touch the pavement,” the teacher continued.

“I know! A pilot!”

“Right. As you can see, different people wear headsets. And I’m sure that some of you don’t know what a throttle is. But the signal lights below her and the wheels touching the pavement provide great evidence that Ms. Sheriff is a pilot.”

Ms. Sneed picked up a stack of papers. “These situations came from today’s worksheet. Now you can try some on your own.”

“Yay!” cried her students.

Provide plenty of inference practice activities throughout the year. These short prompts can be used as worksheets or daily class practice.
Are you feeling “pinspired”? Feel free to pin images from this post.

Enjoy Teaching

As Ms. Sneed circulated around the room, she thought about her inference practice activities. Presenting them as mystery stories did the trick. What an engaging set of exercises!

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