This is a really fun task that allows children of all ages to practise their inference skills. However, it does require a little preparation by the adult first. You may need to find some props from around the home (or school!) and either put these in a special sack, or brown envelopes before you begin (this will all add to the intrigue and engagement for the children). This is a teacher-led task, so will need some adult input to make sure there is no peeking!
But first of all, we need to understand exactly what inference is. In a nutshell, it’s the process of drawing conclusions based on the available evidence (in reading lessons, this would usually be a piece of text/extract from a book). It relies on prior knowledge and experience to allow the reader to ‘read between the lines’ and ‘make an educated guess‘ about something. The answer will not be explicitly stated, so they have to look for clues or hints – coupled with their own experience and knowledge – to help them draw a logical conclusion.
This task is all about engaging children in a fun, exciting way and helping to build and improve their inference skills through a variety of short tasks.
Preparation beforehand (for the adults):
First, read the blog from start to finish so that you understand how it workd. Then choose your character. This may be a character from a book that you have at home, or you may wish to use one of my example text extracts below (or write your own!). Then, you’ll need two or three physical props that link to this particular character (which you’ll need to find around the home). For example, this could be a shoe, a glove, a hat, a piece of jewellery etc. You will also need a printed picture of the character (Google images is great for this!) and, finally, you will need a copy of printed text extract. I would aim for two props, one photo and one text extract. You may wish to pop these in a ‘secret sack’ (or pillow case?) or you might like to pop each clue into a numbered envelope to add to the secrecy…
If you choose to use the characters I have shown below, here are some options for props you might be able to find around the home:
Justino the security guard: a torch, thick gloves, a man’s boot, glasses, a scarf, a security badge (print from the internet), a photo of a Justino (Google images – search for ‘Justino Literacy Shed’) and the text extract below (red border).
The elegant princess: a high heeled shoe, a decorative satin or lace glove, a piece of jewellery, a tiara, a photo (Google images) and the text extract below (purple border).
Here’s how it works:
Children will be given a series of ‘secret clues’ and, after each clue is revealed, they must make inferences about the character – who they think it might be, what their job is, whether it’s male or female etc – and write a sentence or two recording their key inferences. Each time a secret clue is revealed, they can write a new statement about the character and what they have inferred. Eventually, you will reveal a text/extract from the book and, now that they are in the right frame of mind to make inferences, they’ll be better equipped to look for clues about their character in the text too. Finally, you’ll reveal who the character is!
1) Clue 1 – a prop or object
Build excitement and anticipation around the task by explaining that they’ll have to use their detective skills to deduce who the character might be and who the object might belong to. This could perhaps be a glove or a shoe that belongs to your character. Ask: Who do you think this might belong to? Why do you think this? Where/Why might they have worn it? What makes you think that? Discuss their initial inferences. Then ask your child to write a statement about who they think the shoe or glove belongs to and why they believe this. Encourage them to be as detailed in their response as they can. At this point, it is no explicit who the object belongs to – they must infer this using the clue combined with their own knowledge and experiences.
2) Clue 2 – another prop or object
Repeat step 1, but discuss whether or not their thoughts and ideas have changed. You may wish to prompt even further with questions such as: What do you think they look like? What might their body type be? What about their personality? Their job? etc. Always using ‘why’ to dig out the reasoning behind their inferences… Ask children to write down the inferences they’ve made, explaining why they have come to these conclusions.
3) Clue 3 – Reveal an image
Share a third clue – a photo or image of the character. Repeat the questioning. Can they make any new inferences? Does this give them any new clues? Think about their stance, their surroundings, the time of day, the weather, the location, the expressions, the body language etc. Once again, children write down any new inferences they have made. Once they’ve done that, you can reveal the final clue!
4) Clue 4 – The text
Now that children are in the swing of making inferences about their character, you can reveal the text. Give children a highlighter or coloured pencil to highlight/underline the clues in the text. What extra information does it give them? How many more inferences can they make? What makes them think that? Once more, they record all of their inferences from the text. For example, if ‘he sat glumly‘ can they infer why he might be glum? If ‘she looked down at the people below her’ what can we infer about her status?
Here are two example text extracts:
Here are some more examples from Emily Weston on Twitter, which originally inspired this post:
Remember to Share and Connect…
Don’t forget to share your learning! We’d love to see your inference skills in action! Please do share photos of your amazing detective work with us too! You can either do this in the comments box below or post a photo on social media (you can find me on Facebook and Twitter) using the hashtag #literacywithmissp
Miss P x