In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about making inferences. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Make Inferences topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.
Classroom Activities for Teaching Making Inferences
Explain to students that they make inferences not just when they read, but when they watch people perform. If possible, show a television program without sound and see if students can follow some of the plot and understand the characters. What details helped them figure out how the characters feel? How did facial expressions and body language help them understand the show?
As an extension, break up the class into small groups and have them write silent skits. Groups can come up with a plot idea and perform them in front of the class. As a bonus, you could film the performances and make your own silent films. Have audience members discuss each film and describe what details helped them figure out what happened.
As a science connection, read several nonfiction books about animals. Have students pick out specific details about each animal, such as their physical appearance, behavior, or other special trait, and explain how that detail helps the animal survive in its environment. Students can use specific details in the text and connect them with prior knowledge to come up with their ideas. Students can also take what they know about one animal and try to apply it to another. For example, a student may know that zebras’ stripes help confuse predators. Have him or her apply this knowledge to striped fish.
Show, Don’t Tell
Have students write short paragraphs about a personal experience. Tell them to not state any of their own emotions explicitly. Instead, have them write details that help the reader understand how the character feels. Have student volunteers share their writing and briefly discuss each piece. What details helped the reader understand the character? What other details could be added to the writing?
Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching About Making Inferences
Worth a Thousand Words
Look through old family albums and photographs together. Explain the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Have your child observe what a person in a picture is doing and look at his or her facial expressions and body language to infer how the person felt at that particular moment. Then have your child write a story or short paragraph based on the photograph.
Pick a story together and find a paragraph that describes how a character feels. Have your child rewrite the paragraph stating the feelings directly. How are the paragraphs different? Why might an author show how a character acts instead of telling how a character feels? Point out that details bring stories to life and engage readers and spark imaginations.