7 Circle Stories for Making Inferences

Making inferences can be a difficult comprehension skill for young learners. The most important thing they need to understand is that authors don’t tell us everything. Sometimes we must figure things out for ourselves by looking at the illustrations and using our prior knowledge.

I love to use circle stories to help students make inferences. What is a circle, or circular, story? A story that starts and ends right back where it started. In the books I’m sharing today, the illustrations make it super simple for students to infer.

Have you finished a book only to hear your littles say, “Oh no! It’s going to happen all over again!”? Well, they are already making inferences and drawing conclusions.

Let’s get started with some of my favorite circle stories.

A House for hermit crab

When Hermit Crab discovers he has outgrown his shell, he moves into a new, larger shell. The only problem is that it’s a little plain. He gets busy decorating the shell with a sea anemone, a starfish, and many other ocean friends. What happens when he outgrows this new, perfectly decorated shell? He finds a big, new, empty shell. It looks, well, a little plain, but…

⭐Stop reading at this point. Have students turn and talk to a partner to discuss why the author wrote, but… Then, finish reading the last page.

The watermelon seed

Haven’t we all been told that if you swallow a watermelon seed, a watermelon will grow in your stomach? This is exactly what the little crocodile is afraid of. After a close call, he says “NEVER AGAIN!” But…he just can’t resist having one more bite. The last page of the story is an illustration of the crocodile holding his stomach and he has a worried look on his face. At this point, my students always say, “Oh no! He’s gonna do it again!” The story circles back to the beginning. They just made an inference from the illustration.

Ask your students:

⭐What makes you think the crocodile swallowed another seed?

The Watermelon Seed

finders keepers

Squirrel left his hat to mark the spot where he buried a giant acorn. When the wind blew it away, a bird found it and thought it would make a great nest. So the story goes on and on until it makes its way back to where Squirrel left it. He ate his big acorn, leaving the top of it on the ground. And that was the end of the story until….”What a cool hat!” cried a snake. “Finders, keepers!”

Ask your students:

⭐Do you think the wind will blow the hat off the snake? If so, who will find it and what will they use it for? Again, the author leads us to make inferences with an illustration.

What to do if an elephant stands on your foot

If an elephant stands on your foot, keep calm. Panicking will only startle it.

The narrator gives great advice to the character, but he never listens. One thing leads to another until the story circles back to startling the elephant again. The ending is perfect to teach the skill of making inferences with illustrations.

Ask your students:

⭐Do you think the character startled the elephant again?

⭐How did the author let us know?

⭐What do you predict will happen now?

click, clack, moo cows that type

The classic Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type is always a hit with students. The ducks saw that the cows got what they demanded, electric blankets, so they decide to try it too. They don’t want electric blankets though. They want a diving board for the pond.

Ask your students:

⭐Do you think the farmer will give the ducks a diving board?

⭐What if another animal decides to make a demand? What would it be and what would it demand from Farmer Brown?

The story doesn’t tell us if Duck gets a diving board, but the last illustration does. Take a look!

my lucky day

In this trickster tale, a clever little pig pretends to be looking for his friend Rabbit. He knocks on Mr. Fox’s door saying, “Hey, Rabbit! Are you home?” Mr. Fox thinks this must be his lucky day. The piglet manipulates Mr. Fox into serving him a nice dinner, giving him a massage, and bathing him. Poor Mr. Fox passes out from exhaustion. Is this the end of the story? Nope. Mr. Pig goes to Bear’s house.

Ask your students:

⭐On the last page of the story, students can make an inference from the illustration that the “innocent” piglet knows exactly what he’s doing. They can also make predictions as to what the piglet will get from Bear. Perhaps another delicious meal.

three hens and a peacock

When a peacock falls out of the back of a passing truck, people stop to take a look. When they stop, they also buy eggs and milk. The chickens think they do all the work and the peacock just struts around getting people to stop. When the dog suggests they trade places, they each learn a lesson. Some things are not as easy as they look. Once again, as in My Lucky Day, the last page has an illustration that opens up a great discussion on what might happen next. This book can be found on getepic.com.

Ask your students:

⭐Did something fall out of a truck again? ⭐What could it be? ⭐Do you think the peacock will be jealous of this animal like the hens were jealous of him?

Making inferences and drawing conclusions are closely related. We make an inference that leads us to draw a conclusion. To get a better understanding of the difference between making inferences and drawing conclusions, check out this post on Comprehension Connection.

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