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Inferencing Skills

Context for this Lesson

Teaching Strategies: 

TOPIC: Inferencing

GRADE LEVEL: 2nd Grade


  • How do we use context clues to make inferences?



§110.13 English Language Arts and Reading, Grade 2

Reading/Comprehension Skills

  • (C) Monitor and adjust comprehension (e.g., using background knowledge, creating sensory images, re- reading a portion aloud, generating questions);
  • (D) Make inferences about text using textual evidence to support understanding;
  • (E) Retell important events in stories in logical order

Common Core State Standards

Reading Standards for Literature, Grade 2

Craft and Structure

  • 5. Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.
  • 6. Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • 7. Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

Materials needed:

  • Colored paper triangle
  • Character bag
  • Contents of character bag: sweatband, stopwatch, and a winner’s medal
  • 3 strips of paper with lines of text from the Tortoise and the Hare
  • Inferencing graphic organizer
  • Tortoise costume piece for teacher-in-role

This lesson was developed in collaboration with Rosalie Trujilio at Blackshear Elementary.


This is Not a...                         
Display the inferencing grid up on the board that students have been using in class on the board. Hold up a paper triangle and explain that you have an imagination challenge for the group. The object of the game is to transform the triangle into something it is not. The only thing it cannot be is a triangle; anything else that is appropriate for school is okay. The students must use pantomime (acting with no words) and the class will try to guess what they have turned the triangle into. Demonstrate first, and guide students through in the inferencing grid/graphic organizer on the board. When someone guesses correctly, ask, “How did you infer that it was a…?” or “What context clues did you use to infer that it was a…?”
Transition: "Now that we’ve warmed up our imaginations, I’m hoping you can use your inferencing skills to help us with something."


Character Bag (Artifact)

Bring out the bag of objects, and explain to students that this bag was found outside near the playground, and we want to get it back to its owner. “It doesn’t have a name on it, so we need to use the objects inside as clues to figure out who it could belong to.” Bring out objects one-by-one and use DAR to make some inferences about who this bag’s owner could be:

  • Describe: What do you see?
  • Analyze: What do you already know about that object? Based on what you know, what can you infer that object might be used for?
  • Relate: Can you relate these objects to a fable we already read last week? Based on the objects in the bag, which character from the story do you think left the bag on the playground? If students struggle with figuring out who this character could be, invite them to think about the fables they have read recently. Could this bag belong to an animal?

Transition: "You know what, friends? I think the owner of this bag come to our classroom to get his things. When I put this costume piece on, I am going to become the owner of this bag." 


Teacher puts on costume piece to signal that she is becoming Tortoise. Tortoise introduces himself to the class, and tells the students that, after winning the race, there is going to be a big story on the front page of the newspaper about the race. But there was so much excitement at the race that the photographers forgot to take pictures!

Transition: (as Tortoise) "Do you think you could help me re-create moments from the race, so we can send pictures to the newspaper?" 

Image Work

Teacher as Tortoise reveals that he has three captions for the pictures the newspaper staff want to include with the story. Do the first one as a whole group. Read the first piece of text (from the beginning of the story) out loud to the class and write it on the board. "What information does this text give us? What do we need to have in our picture?" Use student responses to build the picture one character at a time. "What is this picture missing? What inferences can we make to figure out what else we need?" Build the picture with a small group of students. When complete, have everyone take a picture with imaginary cameras. Then divide the class into two groups to work on building the next two images in the same way. After the groups have had some time to create images, share and process each image with the class.

Processing the images:

  • Describe: What do you see? How would you describe their body language? How would you describe their facial expressions, do they seem happy, worried, angry, etc?
  • Analyze: Based on their body language, how would you say they feel with each other? How do you think they feel within themselves? What do you think would be the setting of this frozen image?
  • Relate: How does this frozen image compare to the other images we created?

Transition: (as Tortoise) "You have helped me out so much! Make sure you send me those photos. I should get going. Thank you so much for your help!" Teacher takes off Tortoise costume piece.


Describe: What was Tortoise’s problem?

Analyze: How did we use inferencing skills to help Tortoise?

Reflect: Why is it important to make inferences? What other situations do we need to be able to make inferences?