Activities for Reasoning and Thinking

Inference and Deduction are important thinking skills which enable us to work flexibly in the world. They involve using information to work things out.

Inference: basing a decision on an assumption

Deduction: basing a decision on a known fact

Prediction is using available information to suggest a possible outcome

All 3 skills are about using information in relation to other information.

Being able to make connections. These skills usually develop during Key Stage 2.

Detective Games

Working from pictures, get the children to be detectives and answer questions which require some thinking

  • e.g. Provide a picture of a room with a high chair
    Question Do you think a baby lives in this house?
  • e.g. Provide a picture of a girl putting her wellies on
    Question Why is she putting her wellies on?

Work from pictures first, talking through the possibilities and make explicit the relationships where necessary. Eventually extend the skill into other forms, spoken passages or reading.

Double Meanings

Understanding that many words can mean more than one thing. The context is what helps us to recognise the meaning.

  • e.g. park
    • I went to the park to play on the swing.
    • I was fed up because I could not find anywhere to park my car.

Non Literal Language

(this will form part of the glossary which we will work on eventually)

Understanding that the words have an additional meaning which may need to be learned.


Comparing one thing with another
e.g. As dead as a doornail.


Application of a word to something not literally possible
e.g. Food for thought.


Form of language where meaning is not deducible from the relating of the words
e.g. My mum has green fingers.


Expressing the meaning by saying the opposite


Expressing the meaning by tone of voice/manner of speech where this then contradicts the words

Resources which may help with reasoning

Reading for meaningLearning Materials
Whiz KidsLearning Materials
Looking and thinkingLearning Materials
Speech bubblesBlack Sheep Press
Mr GoodguessBlack Sheep Press
Why becauseBlack Sheep Press
Mystifying metaphors and smiling similesBirdart
What’s wrong?LDA
What would you do?LDA
And then?LDA
“Don’t take it so literally”Taskmaster
Think it say itTaskmaster
Understanding AmbiguityNFER Nelson
Rhodes to LanguageSTASS
Helping Children Hang on to Your Every WordQED
Functional Language in the ClassroomManchester Metropolitan University
Developing Active Listening SkillsQE

Some Suggested IEP Targets for Reasoning and Thinking

(most useful in Key Stage 2/3/4)

  • To answer a question from a picture using inference
  • To answer a question from a spoken passage using inference
  • To answer a question from a read passage using inference

Double meanings

  • To explain the different meanings of a given target word
  • To give 2 sentences using the two different meanings of a given target word Non literal language
  • To understand and use similes (repeat the last target using metaphors, idioms, irony and sarcasm)

Tone of voice

  • To understand and use a tone of voice indicating happy (repeat the last target using sad, angry, frightened etc.)


  • To differentiate and understand between truth and lie

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Last updated: 22 October 2015

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