Cause and Effect: Characters and Events Interact

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SWBAT identify how characters and events interact in a read aloud by matching the cause and effect sentence parts; and identify the noun/character of each sentence.

Big Idea

This lesson will introduce your students to the basic relationship between cause and effect, and how characters and events in a story interact.


Common Core Connection:

Primary teachers understand that the characters and events are some of the most important story elements of a literary text; understanding cause and effect relationships can helps students to make connections with why events happen and how they impact or are impacted by characters.  Though this seems fairly clear cut, then again, when looking at CCRA.R.3: analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text, there is a lot more to characters, events, and cause and effect.  For first grade, I teach to standard three by helping students build the habit of reading independently and closely to understand characters and events, which lays the foundation to prepare them for college and careers.

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, my students heard me model identifying the causal relationship between characters and events in a familiar read aloud. Then my students got a chance to work in pairs to read and match the ‘cause’ parts of sentences to the ‘effect’ parts of sentences. This simple activity gave them the simple practice they would need for later application in the unit with complex texts. To further help them make the connection that cause and effect are related to the characters, they also identified the noun/character in each sentence.



5 minutes

To begin this lesson I reminded my students that we have been learning about the characters of a story as well as about cause and effect.  I then asked my students if the two were related.  After a moment to think about this I used the magic cup (Demonstration: Magic Cup) to select a student to share one example from Charles Tiger with the class.  This student shared that Charles was the character, who woke up without his roar.  That was the cause.  The effect was he went to find his roar, which was the event.  The rest of my students indicated they agreed by showing me a thumb up (Demonstration: Thumb Up, Thumb Down).  I then asked if they could explain how the spider affected Charles.  After a moment of think time, one of my students volunteered the cause was Charles did not give up, the effect was the spider had his roar.  Noting that my students were agreeing with this explanation, I took a moment to explain the spider did not really have Charles' roar.  He surprised Charles and that made Charles’ voice come back.  After that explanation I asked:

  • What was the cause?  My students responded: the spider scared Charles.
  • What was the effect?  My students answered: he yelled, he got his roar back!

Before continuing I gave my students a moment to think about and partner share how Charles waking up without his roar and events in the story were related through cause and effect.  After a moment I used the magic cup to select a student partner pair to share their thoughts with the class.  These two students shared that if Charles woke up with his roar, then he would never have found the spider, it would have been a different story.  One student went a little farther to add, that the cause and effect is the real story.  In this case, I had to agree.

From there I explained that today my students would listen to me model finding out more about Charles the Tiger and how he interacts with events in the story. Then they would get a chance to work in pairs to practice identifying the cause and effect parts of sentences, as well as the character or noun in the sentences. 

Guided Practice

15 minutes

Before they worked with their partners, I would read Charles Tiger and model how to identify the causes and effects in the story.  As in yesterday’s reading I encouraged participation and engagement, by having my students read the phrase: “but no roar,” aloud every time I pointed to them.   

When I finished reading I asked my students what they noticed about each sentence.  As my students thought about this one student pointed out that Charles looked everywhere but could not find his roar until the end of the story.  I thought that was a good point, however, I wanted my students to see that every activity Charles did to find his roar was a cause, and the event was he did not find it.  To help my students get to this point, I reminded them of their Ticket Out the Door question from yesterday’s lesson.  This time several students volunteered that all of the things Charles did were little causes.  Are little causes important, I asked.  My students answered ‘yes’.

With this we transitioned to the collaborative part of the lesson.

Collaborative Activity

20 minutes

At this point I had my students stand up and walk to their desks like a tiger who could not roar.  Students like moving, and adding a movement (Demonstration: Adding Movement) to their transitions is a fun way for them to experiment with adding movement to activities.

Once settled in their chairs I displayed the Cause and Effect Matching Sentences on the Promethean board, and explained that the sentences were cut in half.  Part to the sentence was the cause, the other was the effect.  With this activity, I am hoping that students' understanding of causal relationships becomes even more ingrained so that later, when they need to spot these relationships in complex texts, they will have had lots of practice with simple scenarios.  While some might have chosen at this point to ask students to apply what we practiced in our read aloud (identifying how characters and events interact) to a new text, my students needed this extra practice. You know your class, and you should tailor the lesson as you see fit!

Here's how the activity worked:

  • First they had to work with their partner to put the sentences together so that they made sense. 
  • Then they had to decide which side was the ‘cause’ part and mark it with ‘C’.
  • The ‘effect’ part they were to mark with an ‘E’.
  • The last thing they needed to do was circle the character or noun in each sentence.

I used the magic cup to select a student to restate the directions to the class. 

Once my students were clear on the directions I passed out their Cause and Effect Sentence Matching Activity Sheet 1 and Cause and Effect Sentence Matching Activity Sheet 2, that I pre-cut.  As my students worked I circled around to each table partner to check their progress and answer any further questions they had.  In Proficient Student Work Sample the student is modeling how I check student progress while they are working.  

At the end of 15 minutes I stopped the work to regroup.  I used the magic cup to select students to read their sentences, identify the cause and effect, and the noun or character.  As my students read their sentences I pieced them on the doc-u-cam and marked them as they shared what/how they finished the activity.  I also encouraged my students to check their work to make sure they had the same answers.

When we finished this activity we moved into the independent practice part of the lesson.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

During Independent my students are re-grouped into their leveled reading groups and rotate every 15 to 20 minutes through ELA student activity centers.  One center I always include is journal writing because journal writing promotes understanding and applying what my students have learned or practiced.  The prompt I put on the board today:  How are the characters and cause and effect events related?

As each group rotated to my differentiated reading group, I checked their journals for completeness and understanding.  As I checked each journal I realized that my students had the basic concepts, but were not including details how the characters and cause and effect events are related in their journals, as seen in Basic Student Journal Sample.  To get my students to the point where they are comfortable including details they will need more writing instruction, scaffolding activities, and sentence frames.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

For a sticker my students chose one sentence and explained why the one side was the cause and the other was the effect.