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'Let's Read a Picture!' - using an image to teach inference skills in Year 6 at Stonelow Junior School

About our school

Stonelow Junior School has been developing the teaching of reading over the last 2 and a half years using the teaching of inference skills, a common language and whole class lessons. 


In this session, my aim was to demonstrate how we use pictures in school to teach active reading skills.


This session took 25 minutes. We usually do this work as a whole class - the small group activity was to make filming easier.


The image we used is Drop Off from

The following commentary has been written by Nic O’Donnell, Lead: Project READ, who filmed the session and edited the clips. The clips highlight particularly interesting discussions during the session which may be helpful to reflect upon during staff meetings and CPD sessions.

1. 'Can we read a picture?' The pupils articulate what clues we can look for in a picture to help us to make sense of the picture's message.

2. 'What do you think the title could be?' The pupils use clues from the image to suggest possible titles.

3. 'I wonder...' The pupils are familiar with making predictions as they read. They note down their 'I wonder...' ideas. Erica scaffolds the discussion, prompting the pupils to look closely at the picture for clues. Erica gives the pupils time to explore their ideas.

4. 'How is the girl feeling? How do you know?' The pupils talk in groups. Erica encourages the pupils to use words about feelings which they have recently used in class.

The group then explore these questions: Why might the girl feel that way? Who is the man? Where are they?

5. 'What are the characters thinking?' Erica encourages the pupils to use the clues from the picture to begin to create the story behind the image.

6. 'Tell me your story.' The pupils tell their version of the story behind the picture. 


I was really pleased with how the session went. The children were enthusiastic, shared ideas well and all had valid predictions about what could be happening in the picture. Using the picture was a great way to demonstrate how powerful visualising is when thinking about the story. 

Next steps

Pictures can be used in whole class lessons too. Some of the key questions would need to be on cards for the groups to use and discuss. The whole class could use a picture to analyse and then progress into writing the text to go with it. This allows children to show what they can infer. 


Erica Collins, Head of School, Stonelow Junior School, Dronfield.

Additional information

Would you like to take part in a comprehension project in your school? Project Comprehension EYFS - Year 6 is a collaborative CPD opportunity available to primary school clusters in Derbyshire. It builds on the robust foundations of Project READ. It enables schools not involved in the original project to participate in similar, collaborative school improvement projects. Participating schools work in partnership with Derbyshire's Teaching, Learning and Assessment Consultants and with Specialist Leaders of Education from Derbyshire's Teaching Schools. Contact for more information.

1. 'Can we read a picture?' Password for all clips: projectread
2. 'What do you think the title could be?'
3. 'I wonder...'
4. 'How is the girl feeling? How do you know?'
5. 'What are the characters thinking?'
6. 'Tell me your story.'
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