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. 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 pictures of the girl.

Answer the questions about what you can infer about what has happened.

Write your answers down on paper or discuss them with a friend or family member.

  1. How was the girl feeling in the first picture? How can you tell?
  2. Why do you think the girl was feeling that way?
  3. How was the girl feeling in the second picture? How can you tell?
  4. Why do you think the girl was feeling that way?
  5. What could have happened to make her drop her ice cream?

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 what Tiddalik the Frog is like.

Watch the story of 'Tiddalik the Frog'.
  1. Either draw a big picture of Tiddalik the Frog that takes up a whole page or you can use this outline drawing of Tiddalik if you have a printer.

  2. Inside your drawing, write down all the things that you have inferred about Tiddalik from the video.

  3. To do this, you need to think about how he acts and behaves, and what this shows you about him.

Think about:

  • what he's like

  • whether he is a good friend

  • whether he is kind or mean

  • what the other animals might think about Tiddalik

Challenge

If you want to challenge yourself, see if you can provide the evidence to support your ideas. Using the word 'because'.

For example: I think that Tiddalik is mean and selfish because he drinks all the water when the other animals have not had any.

Activity 3

Answer these inference questions about the video by writing the answers down on paper.

Remember, the answer is not told to you. You have to look for the clues.

  1. Tiddalik would ‘gobble up all the flies before the other frogs had a chance’. What does this tell us about his personality?

  2. Tiddalik said ‘Out of my way. I’m thirsty,’ to the other animals. What does this tell us about his personality?

  3. Kangaroo and Koala share where they can find more water with the other animals, rather than keeping it a secret and going by themselves. What does this tell us about their characters?

  4. How do the animals feel at the end of the video? Explain how you know this.

Where next?

In this lesson you have understood inference and used it to answer questions.

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

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