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Inference Card Games
Ages: 6-12   Grades: 1-7

These fun card games develop fundamental skills in making inferences.  Students use limited information to complete their understanding of situations and content. 


  • Infer who is making a statement and where someone is
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Inference Card Games is made up of six decks of playing cards.  Each deck contains 26 pairs of complete inference riddles.  One card in the pair represents a name or location and the other card provides a statement clue.  There are three decks of Who? cards, which consist of occupations/people.  The three Where? decks contain locations that the student infers based on the statements provided.  Directions for four card games are included.  

The six decks are divided by skill area and difficulty level:

Who? Grades 1-2

"Open wide and relax.  I'll take a look at that sore tooth." 

Who am I?  dentist

Who? Grades 3-4

"I love being in stage plays.  Some day I'd like to star in a movie."

Who am I?  actor or actress

Who? Grades 5-6

 "My latest book is a children's story.  It will be published next month."

 Who am I?  author

Where? Grades 1-2

"First I grab a tray.  Then I get in either the hot or cold food line."

Where am I?  cafeteria

Where? Grades 3-4

"There are so many exhibits to see.  Let's find out where the dinosaur skeletons are."

Where am I?  museum

Where" Grades 5-6

"Wow, it was a tough climb, but we finally made it to the top.  Look at this view!"

Where am I?  mountain


Copyright © 2007

6 decks of cards (52 cards per deck), instructions, vinyl Velcro® bag
  • Questioning is the core of critical reflection.  It prompts students to engage in a research process that fosters higher-order thinking skills (Daniel et al., 2005).
  • A systematic approach to teaching vocabulary, including direct and indirect instruction, teaches students that vocabulary is important for learning language and for reading (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002).
  • Explicitly teaching and reinforcing inference skills yields better overall text comprehension, text engagement, and metacognitive thinking.  Students should cite evidence they used to draw conclusions in order to make the implicit process of making inferences more explicit (McMackin & Lawrence, 2001).
  • Klein and Freitag (1991) found that instructional games enhance the motivation of students in the areas of attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction without sacrificing performance.

Inference Card Games incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life: Robust vocabulary instruction. Solving problems in the teaching of literacy. New York: Guilford Press.

Daniel, M.F., Lafortune, L., Pallascio, R., Splitter, L., Slade, C., & de la Garza, T. (2005). Modeling the development process of dialogical critical thinking in pupils ages 10 to 12 years. Communication Education, 54(4), 334-354.

Klein, J.D., & Freitag, E. (1991). Effects of using an instructional game on motivation and performance. Journal of Educational Research, 84(5), 303-308.

McMackin, M.C., & Lawrence, S. (2001). Investing inferences: Constructing meaning from expository texts. Reading Horizons, 42, 117-137.


Lauren Kanefsky


Lauren Kanefsky, M.S., CCC-SLP, received her bachelor's degree from the George Washington University in 2001 and her master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Teacher's College, Columbia University in 2003.  Lauren has spent the last four years working as a speech-language pathologist in the New York City public schools and is currently in New Jersey, where she provides services to children primarily in preschool through fifth grade.  She is also involved in providing early intervention services for children under the age of three years.

Lauren currently resides in New Jersey with her husband, Matthew.  She enjoys spending time with her friends and family.  Inference Card Games is Lauren's first publication with LinguiSystems.      


Inferring is a skill that people use every day.  During our daily lives, we use inferences to imply meaning, to guess, to suggest, or to suppose.  Making inferences requires the use of deductive reasoning.  It forces us to take what we already know or have learned and combine it with our previous experience in order to make an educated guess.  Making inferences involves looking beyond what is explicitly stated in text or a message and filling in the missing information.

Students must use inferencing skills throughout the school day.  Making an inference is a fundamental thinking process that is used in math and language arts, as well as in both reading and listening comprehension.  Students also infer meaning from nonverbal communication tasks that are used every day.

As cited in the Test of Problem Solving 3 Elementary (LinguiSystems, 2005), in order to make inferences, a student must:

  • recognize and understand all available information
  • find patterns and similarities within prior knowledge and experience
  • use appropriate language and vocabulary skills to explain the inference
  • use input from others to verify that the inference was correct

Students who have difficulty making inferences may be unable to determine information that is necessary to comprehend reading material, answer math story problems, or take another's perspective while reading text.  A student may also have difficulty making successful interpersonal relationships if he cannot interpret what others say or do.

It is my hope that by using Inference Card Games, students will learn ways to make inferences in problem solving and recognize that solutions can be made, even when crucial information is missing.  By teaching children to interpret, we teach them how to seek meaning in what they read and how to make meaning in their lives according to The Art of Teaching Reading (Calkins, 2001).

Inference Card Games is made up of 6 decks of cards.  Each deck consists of 52 cards (26 pairs of complete inference riddles: 1 card in the pair represents the name or location and the other card provides the statement clue).  There are three decks of Who? cards, which consist of occupations/people that require the student to infer who is making a statement.  Three Where? decks contain locations that the student infers based on the statements provided.  The decks are arranged in a hierarchy of difficulty based on the vocabulary used.  For example, a child in first grade may understand what a doctor or birthday party is, but may not have ever heard of an electrician or a canyon.

As students begin to master the words from easier decks, you can mix the cards with terms from the other decks to make the games more challenging.