Literal Vs. Inferential Thinking

Last week, we focused on inference and cause and effect.  My kids did well with it, but I wanted to make sure my kids understood the difference between literal and inferential questions and observations. So this week, we focused on literal vs. inferential.  You can see the definitions my kids came up with in the anchor chart, and they are pretty interesting.  They hemmed and hawed over the definition for inferential, and they kept wanting to use the word “infer” in it.  For a group of fourth graders, I was pleased with what they came up with.

As a disclaimer… for every single inferential idea, I required that they justify their thinking, but didn't take the space to write it down on the chart.

For example, some justifications they gave:

“I can infer that the weather is warm because the girl is wearing a bathing suit, there is a flower blooming on the table, and the grass is green.”


“I can infer that the girl doesn't want to get wet because she is wincing and holding the sprayer far away from her body.”

After we did this, we used some task cards to practice the skill.  I had each student do one picture card to solidify the concept (they laughed at the literal questions, but I felt like it really helped them to see the difference, which is so important when they are looking at comprehension questions in reading).

When they finished one of those, we moved on to text-based questions task cards.  They read the passage, then answers four questions about it.  They had to determine if each question was Literal or Inferential, and then answer it and use evidence from the text to support their inferences.  Some of them struggled with whether the questions were literal or inferential, and I told them as long as they could justify it, I was happy.  They are doing one of these a day for the next week or two.

And now… the picture that is pictured in the anchor chart above.  Like last week, feel free to use the picture in your classroom, but please don't post it anywhere else on the internet, unless you are linking back to this post for a similar educational purpose.

Have a happy week!

To help put a diaper on an adorable toddler (or two), you can purchase the task cards here:

Literal & Inferential Picture Task Cards

Literal & Inferential Text Passage Task Cards

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