Inferencing is a reading comprehension strategy that helps students understand text at a deeper level and involves using what the student already knows together with what the student reads. I have found that inferring can be difficult for many students, particularly for struggling readers. On today’s post, I am going to give you my 5 step lesson plan for inferencing that really helps students grasp the concept using multisensory and engaging activities.  

Step 1: Pictures

I begin by introducing inferencing with pictures. You can find pictures on the internet or cut them out of magazines. Action shots of people or animals work really well.

I ask the student questions like:

“How is the person feeling in this picture?”

“How do you know that? There aren’t any words in the picture to tell you that, what made you think that?”

Or….“Why do you think this person is wearing a scarf and hat?” If the student answers, “because it is cold,” I say, “How do you know it is cold?”

I use who, what, where when and why questions with each picture.   

Then….I let the student hold the picture and ask ME questions using each of the ‘wh’ words. I use this opportunity to model good answers.  

I also discuss clues and evidence with the student. Finding clues to support the inference is the goal of this activity.

Step 2: Graphic Organizer

Next, I have my student write down the inference for each picture we discussed in Step 1 and the clues to support it on a graphic organizer. You can also make your own graphic organizer using a whiteboard for this activity.

Step 3: Inference Riddles

After that, I ask my student to listen carefully as I describe something. I describe a person, place or thing by only using clues. I never mention the obvious. The student will use the clues to infer what is being described. 

“I am smaller than the earth. I reflect light from the sun. I orbit around the earth. My pull affects ocean tides. Neil Armstrong visited me. What am I?”  (moon)


“I am known for my large size. My nickname is the Lone Star State. I was once my own country. I have many miles of beaches. My capital is Austin. What am I?” (Texas)

We take turns and I give my student an opportunity to come up with a riddle as well so that the student has to think of clues to give me without naming the person, place or thing.  

This is a really fun and engaging activity to help students review and practice the concept of inferencing.  

Step 4: Write a Story

Then, I ask my student to write a story. This is similar to the riddle game but includes a longer, more detailed creative story that the student will need to write down on paper.

“You are going to write a story about a very cold afternoon without saying that it is cold. Use lots of clues so that the reader can infer that it is cold.”


“You are going to write a story about somewhere that is very scary without saying that this place is scary. Use lots of clues so that the reader can infer that this is a scary place.”

Step 5: Read a Story

Finally, it is time for my student to apply inferences when reading a story! I feel that at this point the student has a really strong grasp about what the concept of inferencing means and is ready for this more difficult step.

As we are reading the story together, I use prompts to help my student understand what the author is implying in the story. Some examples of prompts I use during reading are:

What is the message/lesson of this story?

What can you figure out that the author did not put in words?

What can you conclude about…..?

What is the mood/tone of the story?

Why do you think the author chose that setting? Why was this setting important to the story?

Why do you think the character…..?

What do the character’s actions/choices tell you about him/her?

When the character said…..What did he/she really mean?

Thank you for reading my post today!  You might also enjoy reading my previous posts:

Teaching Vocabulary to Students with Learning Disabilities

My Reading Comprehension Sequencing Lesson Plan


Please don’t leave without checking out the PRIDE Reading Program Comprehension Home Program.  This program is designed to help your student learn to build reading comprehension skills with important strategies such as sequencing, predicting, visualizing, inferencing, and summarizing. 

PRIDE Reading Program


Karina Richland, M.A., is the author of the PRIDE Reading Program, a multisensory Orton-Gillingham reading, writing and comprehension curriculum that is available worldwide for parents, tutors, teachers and homeschoolers of struggling readers. Karina has an extensive background in working with students of all ages and various learning modalities. She has spent many years researching learning differences and differentiated teaching practices. You can reach her by email at info@pridereadingprogram.com or visit the website at www.pridereadingprogram.com

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