Lesson plan

Inferences in Fictional Texts

Give your students practice with inferences using short fictional texts before asking them to apply the skill to a longer text of their choice.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Inferences with Sentence Stems pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the Inferences with Sentence Stems pre-lesson.

Students will be able to make an inference with evidence.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(3 minutes)
  • Make an inference about a student in your class based on an observation (e.g., "I think Jake is feeling cold because he has his sweater on.").
  • Explain that, even though the student did not tell you they were cold, you made an inference based on what you could see and your own personal experiences with being cold.
  • Tell students that people make inferences in the real world, like the one you made. However, it is also a skill that readers use to understand a story or text.
  • Introduce the objective for the lesson in student-friendly terms (e.g., "Today we will be making inferences about fictional stories.").
(12 minutes)
  • Remind students that an inference is a conclusion you come to based on clues and reasoning. Record the definition on the board.
  • Explain that authors will often suggest something in a story without saying it explicitly. It is the reader's job to interpret the clues in a story to make an inference.
  • Display the Reading Between the Lines worksheet using a document camera. Cover all the excerpts except the first one. Read it aloud as students follow along and use a think-aloud to model how to make an inference (e.g., "It says that Harold dropped a bag of oranges, bread, and butter. When I go grocery shopping, I come home with bags of food like Harold. I can infer that he was at the grocery store before getting home."). Repeat with the second excerpt.
  • Reveal the third excerpt and, after reading it aloud, have a whole class discussion to build an inference. Remind students to look for and cite clues for their inferences. Repeat the whole class exercise with the fourth excerpt.
  • Explain that each reader might make a slightly different inference based on their own personal experiences. However, every inference should be supported by clues and evidence from the text.
(10 minutes)
  • Place students in pairs or small groups.
  • Hand out one copy of the More Reading Between the Lines worksheet to each group.
  • Instruct students to read each excerpt aloud within their group. Then, tell them to make an inference as a group using evidence and discussion. Remind students to record their answers. (Note: you may designate a member of each group as the "reader" and another member as the "recorder" if needed.)
  • Call on groups to share their inferences and evidence as you review each excerpt.
(15 minutes)
  • Hand out the Build an Inference worksheet to each student. Review the three boxes.
  • Have students use a common text (e.g., a story in a textbook) or a choice text (e.g., a chapter in a book) as their independent reading material.
  • Instruct students to focus on making an inference as they read. Tell them to fill in the worksheet when they've made an inference.


  • Provide additional inference practice with short texts and multiple choice answers. See optional resources.
  • Allow struggling readers to make inferences with pictures instead of text.
  • Pre-teach challenging vocabulary that students will encounter in the short texts and/or independent practice text.
  • Strategically form groups during guided practice so that struggling readers are paired with fluent readers.
  • Provide dictionaries for students to use as resources while they read.


  • Have students write a paragraph explaining the inference they made during their independent reading time.
  • Apply the skills learned during this lesson to nonfiction texts.
(5 minutes)
  • Display the short story at the top of the Making Inferences worksheet.
  • Read the short story aloud. Then, reveal the multiple choice questions one at a time.
  • Invite students to answer each question by holding up fingers to indicate their answer choice (e.g., one finger for A, two fingers for B). Call on a student with a correct response to explain their reasoning.
  • Observe student responses to gauge understanding.
(5 minutes)
  • Discuss the following questions with the class:
    • How do inferences help us better understand a story?
    • What is challenging about making inferences?
    • What if our inference is proven wrong later in the story?
    • Why don't authors just say exactly what they mean?
  • Ask students to share examples of inferences they've made in their own reading, while watching a movie, or in real life.

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