These lessons were modified and modeled from ideas in Strategies that Work by Harvey and Goudvis and Reading With Meaning by Miller.

I am currently working on my Masters.  One of my projects for a class was to create this HUGE unit using the Understanding By Design Backward Planning Model.  I decided to create a unit about inferencing because this is an area I struggled with last year and was not really pleased with how I pulled it all together.  Well, this project became a MONSTER.  I had no idea how big the unit would become.  So on that note, beware!  This is a LOT of info!  This unit is not just using inference; it is inferencing character, plot, theme, motive, using inference to figure out context clues, and answering inferential questions.  Yikes!  The unit is a good 30 days.


Click here to see a content map of all the objectives taught in this unit.



Books Used in the Unit

Mini Lesson Plans

Printable Copy of Plans

Printable and Activities Used in This Unit

Other Links and Resources


Books Used In This Unit:


A Study of Eve Bunting:

Train to Somewhere

Smoky Night

The Blue and the Gray

Fly Away Home


Books for the Browsing Box:

A Day's Work

The Wednesday Day Surprise

Gleam and Glow

How Many Days to America: A Thanksgiving Story


Red Fox Running

Cheyenne Again

The Wall

Dreaming of America: An Ellis Island Story

A Picnic in October

*Bunting has TONS of books out there.  These are just ones I am familiar with.*


Study of Biographies:


Big Book about Beatrix Potter (not for retail- came with curriculum school purchased)


Books for the Browsing Box:

I kept several different copies of biographies about famous people in the browsing box at this point in the unit.


Quick Organization Tip for this unit: I kept all the books above on the chalkboard shelf of my room.  This way students knew where they were and could easily reread them if they wanted to. In a browsing box on a shelf under my chalkboard I had MANY copies of other Bunting books ( more than just the picture books listed above.  I also included chapter and pictures).  When I asked students to independently note inferences, I had an instant collection and bin to hold the books!


Also- students know that any books in the browsing box or on the chalkboard shelf can NOT be checked out or go home.  They need to stay in the classroom so we can ALL use them!



Mini Lesson Plans




Introduce the Concept of Inferencing

Give a real life example (building picture- what do we know, what clues does the building site give us?

 On the umbrella poster/ graphic organizer write the definition  of Inferencing

 As a class decide on hand motions to match this chant:

Inferencing is combining schema and background knowledge with clues provided in the text to form a new idea.



Model Inference using think aloud while reading Train to Somewhere by Eve Bunting




Model inferencing by finish reading the book Train to Somewhere.    Use post it notes to mark areas that I inferred what was going on in the story.

Have students brainstorm all of the things I inferred about (the character, the characters emotions, the problem why an event was happening, what was going on etc). Write all of these on the Anchor chart:

I infer to :

(This chart will be added every lesson as we realize things we infer about)



Read aloud the story Smoky Night by Eve Bunting.  Model inferencing using think alouds again.  As students to raise their hands to share an inference f they made one while I read aloud.

Stop before the end of the story.  Ask the students to think-pair-share with a neighbor something that they inferences while reading.  Ask students to share their inference or a neighbor’s inference.



Teacher will give each student two post it notes. As I finish reading Smoky Night, ask the students to jot down any inferences they have made.



Teacher will read aloud the story The Blue and the Gray.    Ask students to jot down any inferences that they make during the story on post it notes.  Share post it notes at the end of class.


Teacher will model how to complete both the story frame graphic organizer and the T-chart graphic organizer using the post it notes students wrote yesterday.


Students will watch the Reading Rainbow video on Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting.  As students watch the video they will complete the inferencing graphic organizer of their choice.  The teacher will pause the movie and students will discuss what they have inferred so far.  The class will then share at end.


Introduce the idea of conclusions.  Discuss how it is a multiple meaning word (a final decision reached by reasoning or the last part of something).  Share with students that what we have been doing is drawing conclusions.  We have been reaching a final decision about a story based on our reasoning.

Add drawing conclusions to raindrop on the Inference Umbrella Visual Aid.

Today we are going to play a game to continue practice drawing conclusions.

Model how to play drawing conclusions board game.  Class plays in small groups of 4-5 players per game.

Click here for printable Inference card game

Click here for printable Inferences game rules

Click here for printable game boards ( For some reason I can not keep this website linked!  It does work, but I can't get my link to work!  It is really odd!  All I did was Google "jc schools game boards" and the link was the first to pop up.)

Games will be available to play before school begins during morning work and as an independent activity during guided reading.


Mini assessment on Drawing Conclusions from Scott Foresman reading practice workbooks.



Students will complete the graphic organizer of choice after reading a picture book of their choice.  Students may use the Eve Bunting books from the browsing box or another book of choice.  This activity will be completed independently over a period of several days (when students are not meeting in guided reading groups).


Introduce the idea of interfering about a character.  Sometimes the writer will imply why a character feels a certain way or acts a certain way, but does just say it. 

Introduce the word motive and add to the word wall.  Often readers have to infer a character motive.


Read aloud the story Teammates by Paul Golenbock.  Model activating schema and review making connections (This unit will have been taught previously).  After reading the story, review how activating schema is important to inference.


Ask students what can we exactly infer about a character?  Add these to the anchor chart.  Students should brainstorm things like what they say, what they do, what they think. Add some of these things to the raindrops under on the Inference Umbrella Visual Aid

Introduce to students a character graphic organizer.  Point out that it contains many of the ideas they just brainstormed.

Model how to complete the graphic organizer about Jackie Robinson from Teammates.


Have students break into pairs.  Students will complete the graphic organizer about Pee Wee Reese from Teammates.  Each student will have a copy of the text and will be asked to write their own copy of the graphic organizer.


Return to the inference graphic organizer.  Is there anything we can add about inferencing about a character?  How does this help us as readers?

Share what inferences we made about Pee Wee?  What can we tell about his motives?


Mini assessment on understanding character (from Scott Foresman reading practice workbook)


Ask students if anyone noticed what genre Teammates was?  See if students figure out it is written like a biography of Jackie Robinson.

Let students know today I will be reading aloud a (big book) biography of Beatrix Potter, the author of Peter Rabbit.

While reading the book, model thinking about how to figure out words using context clues.

Atop half way through the book and ask students what they notice that I did when I ran across words I did not know.

Create a list on a poster.

Tell students I was using context clues to figure out words.


Finish reading the biography of Beatirx Potter.  Model the same lesson as above.

Add to the list.  Make sure the list includes synonyms, reading around, replacing the word, what makes sense, using your schema, using picture clues, etc.

Add using context clues to a raindrop under the umbrella

Support this activity over the next several days in guided reading.


Read short story in the basal.  Complete the reading practice workbook pages from the Scott Foresman Test Link workbook using context clues.  Students may complete this in pairs to help support each other.  Check together at the end of class and make corrections.


Let students know that today in their independent reading I want them to write down any words they are not familiar with on a sticky note. They will also need to write what they think the word means and which context clues strategy they used to figure it out.

At the end of class meet back and share what strategies the kids used.  Add any interesting vocabulary words to the word wall.


Play the What Word Am I power point game.

Play “What Word Am I?” game on the Power Point.  Use the fire fly projector to play the game with the students.  This game will be played in which one word that describes an emotion will be projected on the board.  One student (“the guesser”) will sit under the screen and will not be able to see the board.   Students in the audience will describe a situation in which they felt this way.  The “guesser” will try to see if they can guess the word.



Review strategies to figure out words using context clues.

Play Context Clues Board Game for more guided practice. 


Mini Assessment of Context Clues using Scott Foresman reading practice workbook.


Ask students to think-pair-share and review with a neighbor what we have learned about questioning.  Ask students to share.

 Ask students what they have learned about author and me questions.  See if any students can make the connection that this is inferencing.

 Add to the Inferencing Umbrella poster/ visual aid.


Ask students to define the word evidence.  Add the word to our word wall.  Discuss how we need evidence in our reading to make inferences.  Lead students to realize the clues the text gives us could be called evidence.

Review good test taking strategies.  Model reading aloud a reading passage with inferential/ author and me questions at the bottom (try to find science/ NF connection) and think aloud how I will answer the question.  Puzzle over the part of the question that states, “Use the text to support your answer.”  See if any students can make the connection that this is simply the evidence in the text.  Model answering the questions.

 Return to the Inferencing Anchor chart.  Add Author and me questions and how I answered the questions  (reread, questioned myself and was able to put into words the evidence to defend my inference)


Break students into groups of four.  Pass out each member of the group a reading passage with author and me questions on the bottom.  Have the groups read the passage and answer 1 assigned question on the bottom.  Come back together as a class and share our responses.  Discuss how we used the text to support our answers.


Ask students why is it important to answer author and me questions?

Let students know the reason we are practicing this, is many tests they will come across for the next few YEARS will have questions like this!   However, in life we have to be able to state our beliefs, opinions and conclusions and be able to support WHY we think this.  This is a life skill too!

Students will then independently complete a reading comprehension worksheet.  Check together as a class.


Inference Benchmark assessment


Printable Version of these Mini Lessons

Printables and Activities Used in This Unit

Anchor Chart

story frame graphic organizer

T-chart graphic organizer

Inference Umbrella Visual Aid

Printable Inference card game

Printable Inferences game rules

Printable game boards

  character graphic organizer

What Word Am I?” game on the Power Point.

Context Clues Board Game

If your students would like to learn more about Eve Bunting, here is online movie/ interview of Eve Bunting.  Thank you for sharing the link, Francie!!!

Other Links and Resources

Example of an inferencing lesson

Mosaic ListServ- This place has TONS of ideas and printables.  A must see!


Bookmuncher's Inference Unit

Bookmuncher is a frequent poster on the website and she has GREAT reading ideas.  Above is her blog in which she details what she did with her first graders for an inferencing unit.


Strategy Links


All Graphics on This Page are From