Cause and Effect: Characters and Events Interact Day 2

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SWBAT identify and list causes and their effects on characters in a story.

Big Idea

In this lesson you will be helping your students understand the relationship between cause and effect as it applies to the interactions to the characters and events in a literary text.


Common Core Connection:

To meet the rigors of CCRA.R.3: analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text, I am focusing on the comprehension skill of cause and effect.  Focusing on RL.1.3: describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key ideas, as well as RL.1.7: use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting or events, it is my intent that my students will understand cause and effect relationships to help them to make connections with why events happen, and that these events affect the characters.

Lesson Overview:

On our third day of this introductory unit on cause and effect I wanted to introduce my students to the concept of cause and effect as it relates to the interactions to the characters and events in a literary text. I have spent lots of time laying the foundation for students to apply this skill to text, so I am excited to see how the students do!


  • Houghton Mifflin Reading Theme 1: All Together Now, Charles Tiger, by Siobhan Dodds
  • Houghton Mifflin Reading Theme 1: All Together Now, The Big Hit, by Angela Shelf Medearis
    • If your district does not use HM try: The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash, by Trinka Hakes Noble
  • Cause and Effect Activity Sheet (teacher created)


10 minutes

With my students on the rug, I began this introductory lesson to cause and effect by holding a pencil and asked my students, “What am I doing?” Without hesitation they all called out, “Holding a pencil”.  I then let go of the pencil and asked my students, “What just happened?”  This time when they all called out some answered that I let go, while others answered the pencil fell.  I agreed with both answers, stating I let go and the pencil did fall.  I then explained that the cause of the pencil falling was me letting go, the effect it fell.  This, I told my wide eyed students, was called cause and effect.  I further explained the cause, or why was I let go of the pencil.  The effect, or what happened, was the pencil fell.  I continued by telling my little ones that thinking about why something happens will help them understand what they are reading, noting words such as “because” and “so” were key words to help them know it was a cause and effect situation.  I further explained that characters and events were related by cause and effect, and that today we would be looking at this relationship.  

Guided Practice

15 minutes

I then showed my students Charles Tiger and asked them who the main character was and what the main event was in this story.  They all agreed Charles was the main character and the main event was he woke up without his roar and looked for it.  I then gave my students a moment to think about what the cause and effect in this story, and whisper their answers in their hands.

I then instructed my students to share with their rug partners what was the cause and effect in this story is.  When they finished sharing with their partners I used the magic cup (Demonstration: Magic Cup) to select two students to share their answers with the class.  These two students reported back that the cause was Charles woke up without his roar and the effect was he looked for it.  The rest of my students all agreed by showing me a thumb up (Demonstration: Thumb Up, Thumb Down).  I explained this was the relationship between the character and event.  Charles, the character, woke up without is roar, which was the cause.  The effect was he looked for it, which was the main event in this story.

I then reminded my students that yesterday they read The Big Hit, and gave them a moment to think and partner share what the story was about.  I used the magic cup to call on a partner pair to share with the class what they remembered about The Big Hit.  These two students shared the story was about a group of children playing ball and the dog ran away with it.  I agreed, noting that was a good summary of what happened.  I then used the magic cup to select students to tell the class who the characters were in this story, as well as the events.  These students responded and the class agreed the characters were Sam, Tim, Pat, Cam, and Tip. And the events were they were playing ball and the dog ran off with it.

Seeing that my students had an understanding of the characters and events, I held up a student copy of the anthology The Big Hit and asked if they could tell me the cause and effect on page 95 and 96.  They all agreed the cause was Sam hit the ball, the effect was he ran.  I then asked them if they thought they could find more cause and effect parts in this story, explaining that they were going to re-read the story and look for and record cause and effect events with their table partners. 

Collaborative Activity

20 minutes

Before moving into our collaborative work time I gave my students the opportunity to stretch and instructed them to walk to their desks acting like they were looking for something that was lost.  By adding movement (Demonstration: Adding Movement) to transitions helps motivate students and gives them the opportunity to express themselves creatively.

Once settled at their desks I displayed the Cause and Effect Activity Sheet on the Promethean board.  As I did, I pointed out that it was very similar to yesterday’s activity sheet, except today they would look at the beginning, middle, and end of the story, The Big Hit and note the cause and effect in each part.  The directions I gave my students were they were to re-read The Big Hit with their table partner and work together to finish the Cause and Effect Activity Sheet.  As my students began reading I circled around the class to make sure all my students were reading and working with their partners. 

As I noticed students beginning to record their answers on their activity sheet, I pulled my Beginning Readers to work with me to finish their activity sheets. When I pull the Beginning Reading students I read with them and record their answers on the portable white board.  The Beginning Student Work Sample shows this student finished the activity, whereas if I had not worked with this group the work would not have been complete. The answers are fairly close to the Proficient Student Work Sample, which tells me this student has the basic understanding, however does not have the reading or writing skills as his more proficient classmate.

At the end of 15 minutes we re-grouped and I drew their attention to the activity sheet on the Promethean board.  Using the magic cup I selected student pairs to share with the class what they recorded in each section.  As they shared I wrote their answers on the Promethean board and encouraged the rest of the class to check to see if they had similar answers.

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

Independent Practice

15 minutes

At this time my students are re-grouped in their leveled reading groups and rotate every 15 to 20 minutes through ELA activities.  Journal writing is one activity that I always include in this rotation.  Journal writing helps students to remember, apply, and evaluate what they have just practice.  It also gives me helps me monitor their progress, as well as helps me adjust my teaching and pacing.

The prompt I put on the Promethean board:  What were the events in the beginning, middle, and end of The Big Hit.

 As my students rotated into my differentiated guided reading group, I checked their journals for understanding and completeness.  The included video clip Basic Student Journal Sample demonstrates how my students are clear about using temporal words to sequence, they  really do not have a lot to work with in the events in the lesson story.  I noted in my personal lesson reflection, to use an alternative read next time I teach this unit.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

For a sticker my students told me what the effect would have been had the dog not ran off with the ball.