Infer the Cause and Effect and Make a Book Cover

2 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT use story structure to make inferences about cause and effect.

Big Idea

We can infer what happens by looking at cause an effect!


  • How To Catch A Star by Oliver Jeffers
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: inferring, cause, effect, schema, evidence, beginning, middle, end
  • Set up the whiteboard
  • Inference Starter poster
  • book cover creator website  (Play with this to make sure you're familiar-it does not work on iPads so we used the computer)
  • Draft page for inferences (originally I just used a blank piece of paper for each student, but decided to pass out this outline instead)
  • computer for the website - you could do one on the overhead or have students share the computers (if you want to print, the kids have to print right away - they can't save the project)


I chose this story because it demonstrated a great example of story structure. The kids were really able to see how the story was structured by using the index cards to lay out the event. There are lots of opportunities for inference, as the author did not always clearly tell why the characters were acting as they did. It was great fun to use cause and effect within the story structure because it was so clear in this story.

For more practice on inferring and cause and effect, I used these same techniques and materials in my last lesson, Whose Fault Was It? Infer the Cause and Effect.

Let's Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)


Common starting point

  • "We have been talking about inferring and cause and effect."
  • "Let's review really quick ...
    • If the cause is eating too much candy, what's the effect?
    • If the cause is practicing spelling words every day, what's the effect?" 
  • "Let's try some inferring.  Here's a book cover - take a look. Can you infer what this book is about?  Look at this cover-that's the evidence.  What do you think this cover is about? Do you have any schema about this - yes we did read a book by this author before!"

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

Give the purpose of the lesson

  • "We are going to talk about 'cause' and 'effect' and how they make up the events in the story."
  • "In this story, we'll have to make some inferences because the author does not always tell us what the causes and effects are."
  • "When we make inferences, we use schema and evidence to help figuring out what is happening in the story. Today we'll look as the story structure as our evidence. We know there will be a 'beginning' with a problem, a 'middle' with a problem or climax and 'end' with a solution. We can use the story structure to make inferences about the cause and effect."


Encouraging students to make inferences about characters and cause/effect relationships in stories allows them to see how characters change over the course of a story. (RL.2.3) Their reaction to events and challenges can be evaluated when looking at how a cause changes the character. This analysis of characterization is the kind deeper story comprehension that the Common Core Standards encourages students to strive for.

Introduce strategy - teacher models & guided practice

  • "Let's look at the beginning of the story. I'll read and we can make some inferences. Remember they have to be backed up by schema and/or evidence."
  • Read the beginning of the story. (I stopped at the page that starts with 'Finally, just before...')
  • "I'm going to think about the evidence and make 2 inferences:
    • 'The cause might be 'the boy wants a friend' and the effect is 'he looks for a star'.
  • Some of my kids used other reading strategies as we read, which I reinforced. Here is a student making a connection. It's always great when students integrate strategies, as this is a natural part of fluent reading that leads to automaticity and real understanding.
  • "Help me with the 2nd inference. The cause is the 'boy can't find a star' and the effect is 'he feels....' " (sad, lonely)
  • Here's the completed whiteboard when we were done and a how I reviewed the modeling portion.
  • If possible, get ideas from students about why they are using inferences and how it helps them. This is metacognitive education - 'why are we doing what we're doing' or 'how do you know that you know'.  Here' an example of a students thoughts on making inferences.  


I'm purposefully keeping these inferences short and simple. There are MANY inferences to make about the book, but I want to focus the kids so we have a few short ones for each part and are able to finish the lesson and start the book cover.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Assign the Task

  • "Now I'll read the middle of the story and you can make some inferences."  
  • Don't forget to use the inference starters.  Some of my students volunteered the idea of underlining the inference starter.
  • Read to the end of the story, having the kids make inferences as they go. Take ideas from them - how did you know that?  What is your evidence?" 
  • Pass out the worksheet and help students get started.


Read and give students time to work


As students detail the beginning, middle and end of the story, they learn that stories have structure. (RL.2.5) It's important that they realize there is the author has a plan as he writes and that the beginning introduces the action and ending concludes the action. The book cover helped them to see that the information about the story (main illustration and title) was on the front and the structure of the story was shown in text boxes on the back cover.

Share What You've Learned

15 minutes

Explain the project

  • "Let's take our inferences now and make a book cover for the book."
  • "Let me show how to work through the app and you can work together to create on with your group."
  • Here's an example of the my front book cover and the back book cover.
  • If students are working in groups due to limited computers, remind them of the rules group work. Here's a poster that my students created at the beginning of the year.


Start working



  • I did take a few minutes to review the lesson, going through the idea of inferencing, using evidence and schema.


Scaffolding for Students with Diverse Language Abilities

This lesson could be used with students who have a variety of language abilities. Avoid grouping according to ability, but mix up language levels instead. Those with lower language abilities can offer ideas and others can write the sentences. This allows students to learn from each other.