Using inference

Learning focus

To understand the skill of inference and use it to answer questions.

In Years 3 & 4, students are encouraged to:

  • draw inferences about characters’ feelings, thoughts and motives from their actions, and use evidence to justify their ideas
  • predict what might happen from details stated and implied

Learn

When we read stories, watch films or TV shows, look at pictures or play video games, we use lots of different skills to work out what is happening.

One of these skills is called inference.

Inferring is a bit like being a detective.

You have to find the clues to work out the hidden information.

Watch this short clip to see an example.

See how inference can help you work out what's going on in a story.

In the video, custard pies were stolen. We're told the housekeeper looked nervous and her apron had a yellow stain. From this we can infer that the housekeeper stole the pies.

You have to do the same thing when you’re reading.

Imagine the main character in a story skips into a room, smiling brightly and waving to their friends. You could infer that the character is happy.

The text hasn’t told you the character is happy, but you can work it out from the clues given.

Practise

You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Activity 1

To answer inference questions, you have to examine the whole scene.

Look at the picture below carefully and then answer the questions underneath.

Write your answers down on paper.

  1. Describe what is happening in the picture.

  2. How is the girl feeling in this picture?

  3. Why might she be feeling that way?

  4. What might the girl do next? Why do you think that?

Have a look at these suggested answers to see if your inferences are on the right lines.

Activity 2

When answering inference questions, your answer needs to be clear and backed up with evidence.

Watch the video of part one of Tiddalik the Frog.

Think carefully about the characters that are introduced, then answer the questions below on paper.

Watch the story of 'Tiddalik the Frog'.

Read the evidence given from the story in the table below. Then infer what this shows you.

The first one has been done for you as an example.

You don't need to copy out the whole table - just write your inferences down in full sentences.

 

EvidenceInference
Tiddalik drank up all the water in the stream and didn't care that there was no water left.This shows that Tiddalik does not think about anyone else but himself as he took all the water. He's selfish and was just happy that he felt better.
Tiddalik would 'gobble up all the flies before the other frogs had a chance'.This shows that Tiddalik is...
The stream was 'a welcome sight' to Kookaburra.This shows that Kookaburra was...
Tiddalik said, 'Out of my way, I'm thirsty!' to the other animals.This shows that Tiddalik is...
Kangaroo and Koala share where they can find more water with the other animals, rather than keeping it a secret and going by themselves.This shows that Kangaroo and Koala are...

Challenge

If you want to challenge yourself, see if you can provide the evidence and the inference to answer this question:

How do the animals feel at the end of the video?

Top tip!

You might find it useful to watch the end of the video again (from 5 minutes and 22 seconds) and listen carefully to what the narrator says.

Activity 3

Create a poster showing what Tiddalik is like in this part of the story.

You can use this outline drawing of Tiddalik if you have a printer.

Decorate your poster with all the inferences you've made about Tiddalik and use lots of adjectives (describing words) to describe his character.

Make sure you include some evidence to back up your ideas too.

You could include:

  • A title
  • A picture of Tiddalik
  • Big bold writing
  • Bright colours
  • Text boxes or bubbles
  • Evidence from the story

Where next?

In this lesson you have learned about the skill of inference and how to use it to answer questions.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you improve your reading skills.

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