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No-Glamour® Inferences
Ages: 6-11   Grades: 1-6

These lessons teach how to infer from pictures, idioms, and short stories.  Students learn to determine what's missing and solve object, agent, location, and feelings inferences.


  • Learn to recognize and interpret available information
  • Find patterns and similarities within prior knowledge and experience
  • Use appropriate language to explain inferences
  • Learn to verify inferences by getting input from others
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Administer the pre/post assessment to determine what your student understands about making inferences.  Then select the skill that best matches his ability level. Your students will work through steps to improve these inference skills:

What Will Happen Next?
Find a picture that best completes the sequence and explain why.  Describe the last step in a picture in the sequence.

What's Missing?
Find what's missing in object and people pictures and explain why the missing item is important.  Identify and explain what's missing in a picture sequence and tell what probably happened between the first and last picture sequence.

Picture Scene Inferences
Find the absurdities in pictures and explain what is wrong.  Use information in a picture to answer questions.

Object Inferences
Solve riddles with pictures based on the categories animals, transportation, appliance, furniture, clothing, and food.  Give as many answers as possible to riddles.  Combine clues and determine missing information to solve object riddles with and without pictures.

Agent Inferences
Decide who is being talked about based on clues and fill in missing information.  Picture clues gradually fade.

Location Inferences
Decide where something happened based on clues and fill in missing information. 

Feelings Inferences
Act out and guess emotions.  Infer feelings illustrated in pictures.  Decide how someone feels based on clues.  Fill in missing information to match the situations.  Match feeling words to sentences.

Making Predictions
Make predictions based on word clues

Cause and Effect Inferences
Determine the cause of a situation or event based on word clues

How Would You Know?
Tell how you know something based on word clues

Inferring From Idioms
Use context clues to determine idiom meanings based on animal and body part themes.  Rephrase idioms in sentences.

Inferring From Short Stories
Read short stories and answer four inference questions about each story.


Copyright © 2008

220 pages, answer key
  • Explicitly teaching and reinforcing inference-making leads to better outcomes in overall text comprehension, text engagement, and metacognitive thinking (Borné et al., 2005).
  • Students should cite the evidence they used to draw conclusions in order to make the implicit process [of making inferences] more explicit (Borné et al., 2005).
  • Students are expected to make inferences in authentic reading situations as well as on high-stakes standardized tests (McMackin et al., 2001).
  • Standardized tests require students to predict, draw conclusions, elaborate, explain, and make analogies (McMackin et al., 2001).
  • Calkins (2001) suggested that by teaching children to interpret [via making inferences], we teach them how to seek meaning in what they read and how to make meaning in their lives.

No-Glamour Inferences incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


Borné, L., Cox, J., Hartgering, M., & Pratt, E. (2005). Making inferences from text [Overview]. Dorchester, MA: Project for School Innovation.

Bowers, L., Huisingh, R., & LoGiudice, C. (2005). Test of Problem Solving 3-Elementary. East Moline, IL: LinguiSystems.

Calkins, L.M. (2001). The art of teaching reading. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, Inc.

McMackin, M.C., & Newton, S.L. (2001). Investigating inferences: Constructing meaning from expository texts. Reading Horizons, 42(2), 118-137.


Lauren Kanefsky


Lauren Kanefsky, M.S., CCC-SLP, received her bachelor's degree from George Washington University in 2001 and her master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Teacher's College–Columbia University, New York, in 2003.  Lauren has spent the last five years working as a speech-language pathologist, providing clinical services in the public schools and in private practice.  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, and her son, Jonah.  She enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.  No-Glamour Inferences is Lauren's second publication with LinguiSystems.  She is also the author of Inference Card Games.


Inference is a fundamental process that envelopes much of our thinking. During our daily lives, we use inference to imply meaning, to guess, to suggest, or to suppose. Making inferences involves looking beyond what is explicitly stated in a picture, text, or message, and filling in the missing information.

The primary goal of No-Glamour Inferences is to help students improve their inference-making skills (predicting, problem solving, drawing conclusions) from the acquisition of knowledge through the evaluation of that knowledge.

In order to make an inference, a student must:

  • Recognize and understand the 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 (Bowers et al., 2005).

The ability to make inferences is an essential academic skill. Students who can't make logical inferences have difficulty answering math story problems, predicting information needed to comprehend text, and taking others' perspectives while reading. These students also have difficulty building peer relationships if they cannot interpret emotions, behavior, and social situations.

Administer the Pre/Post Assessment on pages 6-10 before presenting the activities. The assessment is arranged hierarchically by difficulty, as are the tasks in No-Glamour Inferences. Use clinical judgment to determine which assessment items are age-appropriate for your student and where to begin instruction.

Throughout this book, students are encouraged to draw conclusions and to explain how they came to their conclusions. This makes the implicit process of making inferences more explicit, an effective learning strategy. Use No-Glamour Inferences to teach students how to problem solve and recognize that solutions can be found, even when information is missing. The tasks in this book require students to identify and supply missing information, as well as predict and analyze outcomes. They will identify missing parts of objects, animals, or sequential events and processes. The particular types of inferences in this book include: object, agent, location, feelings, and cause and effect. More difficult tasks in this book target inferences in figurative language and short stories.

At the end of the book, you will find an answer key with suggested answers to the items on the activity pages. Student responses, however, will vary and it is up to you to determine the appropriateness of any particular response. There may be several acceptable responses for any given item, so encourage students to discuss why they gave a particular answer.

The activities in this book can be done one-on-one with a student or as group activities. Also use this book to help students:

  • Enhance oral reasoning skills.
  • Analyze, interpret, understand, and express feelings and behaviors.
  • Expand utterances in conversation.
  • Increase vocabulary.
  • Develop creative responses to interpretive questions.

I hope this book helps you teach inference skills in a way that is satisfying to you and enjoyable for your students.

Lauren Kanefsky