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Picture It: Using Visuals to Infer

Lesson Objective: Students will develop their inferential thinking skills. They will learn to analyze and draw conclusions from visuals, such as images, graphs, and charts.


  • Various visual aids (photographs, diagrams, charts, etc.)

  • Individual whiteboards or paper for each student

  • Pens or pencils

  • Projector or large screen for presenting visuals

Note to the Teacher

This lesson plan contains three lesson options that are approximately 50 minutes each. You can choose what works best for your class or build on the principles throughout the week. 

Remember to keep the atmosphere lively and engaging. Share your own experiences of making interesting inferences from visuals. The more students can relate to the real-world application of inference, the more likely they will embrace and master this valuable skill.

Lesson Introduction (10 minutes)

Start the lesson with a bang! Show a mysterious image on the projector and ask, "What can we learn from this picture?" Encourage students to share their observations. You might use an image with hidden details, sparking curiosity and prompting students to look beyond the obvious.

Transition into the main topic by saying, "Today, we're becoming detectives! Like Sherlock Holmes, we will use our observational skills to uncover hidden meanings. But instead of a magnifying glass, we'll use our brains and a special tool—visuals!"

Main Lesson Options

1. Understanding the Basics (30 minutes)

Begin with a brief discussion of what inference means. Break it down with a metaphor: "Think of inference like putting together a puzzle. We have some pieces, and we can complete the picture using our imagination and clues."

Introduce key terms like 'observation' and 'interpretation.' Emphasize that observations are the facts we see, while interpretations are the conclusions we draw. Relate it to the earlier image and ask students to share observations and interpretations.

Activity 1: "What's the Story?" 

Provide each student with a different image. It could be a photograph, a chart, or a diagram. Ask them to jot down as many observations as possible on their whiteboards or paper. Once they've done that, challenge them to make at least three inferences based on their observations. Share and discuss as a class.

Use this analogy: "Imagine you're a photographer capturing a moment. What story does your image tell? Look beyond the surface and dive into the details."

2. Analyzing Graphs and Charts (30 minutes)

Shift gears to more analytical visuals—graphs and charts. Draw a simple graph on the whiteboard or show one on the projector. Ask, "What can we learn from this graph?" Guide the discussion toward recognizing patterns and trends.

Activity 2: "Cracking the Code" 

Give each student a different graph or chart to analyze. It could be related to topics they're familiar with, like favorite sports or movie genres. Ask them to identify trends, make predictions, and share their findings with the class. This hands-on experience will make them graph detectives, decoding the information presented.

Say, "Imagine the graph as a secret code. What can we uncover about our favorite things by decoding this information?"

3. Drawing Inferences from Diagrams (25 minutes)

Transition to more complex visuals, such as diagrams or schematics. Discuss how these visuals often represent processes or systems. Present a diagram and ask, "What can we infer about how this works?"

Activity 3: "Deconstruct and Reconstruct" 

Provide each student with a complex diagram. Ask them to break it into its components, discuss their functions, and reconstruct the bigger picture. This activity enhances their inference skills and encourages teamwork as they collaborate to understand intricate visuals.

Use the analogy, "Think of the diagram as a puzzle. Can you put the pieces together to reveal the big picture?"

Lesson Conclusion (10 minutes)

Summarize the lesson by revisiting key points. Emphasize that inference is like detective work—analyzing clues to uncover hidden meanings. Encourage students to practice their newfound skills by critically looking at visuals in their textbooks or daily lives.


Assess students informally through class discussions, their participation in activities, and the quality of inferences shared. Additionally, consider assigning a homework task where they analyze a visual from their textbooks or find one in their environment.

Extension Activity

For an extra challenge, ask students to find a news article with a relevant visual and analyze it, connecting their inferences to the broader context of the article.


Written by Brooke Lektorich

Education World Contributor

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