Making Inferences in First Grade

April 11, 2019

I love teaching students to make inferences in first grade. They feel like detectives as the search for what the author hasn’t said in the text. I thought I would take some time to share with you some of my favorite activities for teaching students how to infer.

Using Photographs:

When we begin making inferences, I love to use real life photographs. I always begin doing one or two whole group so students can see me model making inferences using the photographs.

I start by just stating my inferences without explaining them. We will just brainstorm what we think is happening in the photograph and record our thoughts. Often, I like to have students write their responses on post its and add them to an anchor chart where I will put the photo, as shown below.

Making inferences anchor chart. Head on over to the post to see how I teach first graders to infer using photographs!

Once students have shared a few observations and inferences, I choose a couple (starting with my own) and model explaining how I came to that inference. I like to use the sentence frame from the reference chart to guide my thinking. For example, “I can infer the birthday boy likes cars because I know that a birthday cake is usually something the birthday person likes and I can see the photograph shows a red car with candles.”

I then have students practice using their own inferences. Once we are more familiar with this process, students can use the let’s infer recording sheets and some new photographs to do this on their own or in small groups.

Wordless books:

Some of my favorite wordless picture books for making inferences! Head over to the post to see how I use these books to teach first graders how to infer.

I love breaking out the wordless picture books again when we learn to make inferences! I will often pose the following thoughts and questions to my class: “So far this year we have read many, many books. We know that the author is the person who writes the text. It is through the text that we identify the characters and the plot of the story. It is through the text that we make connections. So what happens when we have an entire book with NO words?!”

Some of my current favorite wordless books:

(affiliate links below)

After reading our wordless books, I like to have students record their inferences and even make their own wordless stories to share with classmates!


All the printables and activities mentioned above are actually included in my Comprehension Strategies that Stick unit. After we practice making inferences with photos and books, I like to introduce students to these passages I wrote specifically to encourage inferences:


Everything shown above (and a lottttt more) can be found in my Comprehension Strategies unit. It focuses on schema, inferring, questioning, visualizing, synthesizing, and determining importance:


Pin to remember:

Making inferences in 1st grade can be tricky at first, but I love when students are able to become detectives and figure out what they author is saying! See some of my favorite activities for teaching inferring in kindergarten, first, and second grade over on the blog!

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