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April 26th, 2012

TOS Crew Review: Inference Jones: Beginning from the Critical Thinking Company

A partial definition of the word inference, taken from Merriam-Webster online is,
“the act of passing from one proposition, statement, or judgment considered as true to another whose truth is believed to follow from that of the former”

The new Inference Jones series from  The Critical Thinking Company is unique in that it uses reading comprehension activities to guide your child towards an understanding of how often we make inferences, and to carefully examine all facts to examine if the conclusions we make are in fact true and stated, or are instead inferred and assumed.

Designed primarily for children in 3rd and 4th grade, Inference Jones: Beginning is a reproducible student worktext (everything is included – stories, room to write, answer key) includes 18 stories with comprehension and critical thinking activities.  A helpful chart at the beginning of the book helps you to see at a glance which stories address specific types of thinking skills.  Though not all skills are included in each story, the list of language arts skills addressed is quite extensive.

Here it is: compare/contrast, define vocabulary in context, distinguish cause/effect, distinguish fact/inference, draw conclusions, find supportinv evidence, identify main idea, make inferences, make generalizations, read for details, use tables, illustrations, etc., analyze character traits, identify thee, identify setting, sequence events.

While many children will naturally pick up these skills, Inference Jones helps you point out these skills and tasks in a meaningful, purposeful way as your child works through the questions.  The book can largely be completed independently, but it also provides a great many opportunities for talking with your child about the assumptions we make, how we come to conclusions, and how we make inferences all the time.

Each activity is around two pages in length including the story (with numbered sentences for future reference and ease of answering), and the questions.  A variety of questions are provided including multiple choice, true, false, or unknown, short answer, and probably true and probably false answers that ask your child to support their conclusion based on their own evidence and personal knowledge (this is truly a unique answer form in my experience).

We received a digital copy of this title for review (it is normally only available in print form to purchase), and I was so thankful because my oldest (newly 9) loves working directly on the iPad.  I introduced the book to her, worked through some sample activities, and then let her have at it!  She had some questions now and then about the new types of questions and thinking the stories and responses generated, but she adored them!  She ASKED me if she could do more Inference Jones for FUN.  After school hours.  On her own.

With 18 activities included, this book won’t make up a full year’s worth of work, but it can be used as a thinking supplement sporadically to keep those thinking skills fresh!  I’m thrilled that my daughter has enjoyed it so much, glad she can work on it independently and very pleased with the precise thinking skills that it helps to form.

Inference Jones: Beginning can be purchased as a reproducible, 48 page paperback for $11.95.

Disclosure: I received a digital copies of this title to write this review.  All opinions are honest and my own.

For more opinions of this and other Critical Thinking Company titles, please visit the TOS Crew Blog here!


Jennifer. Follower of Yeshua. Wife of one man. Homeschooling mother of 5.