Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cause and Effect Chain

Hey Y'all, 
Ever work on a reading skill and feel bored? Cause and effect is one that my kids totally get. I was thinking of how to spice things up for our cause and effect skill practice. 

Sometimes the wandering path that is my brain takes me on a detour. I knew I wanted to do something that challenged the kids, and I knew I wanted it to be open-ended. I also knew that I had a drawer full of paper scraps that I had hoarded and wanted to be rid of. Put that all together and you get...cause and effect chains!

If you have a drawer full of paper and a keen ability to drown out student noise, this one is for you!

completed cause and effect chain
Here is what ya do:

1. Put the kids in groups. Smaller is better. Take my word for it. I learned it the hard way!
2. Assign each group a starter sentence. A couple of ours were, "Sophie drove her parent's car without permission" or "Cecil missed his plane."
3. Allow groups to write the sentence on a strip of paper. I even had them cut the strips. Then, have them write the effect of that statement on another strip. Attach the new strip to the old one to start the chain. We used staplers. 
4. Have the groups use the last strip in the chain as the new cause. They should write an effect for that event. 
5. Continue adding effects to the chain.

Here is how one of ours went... you be the judge of if it was a hit:)
1. Sophie drove her parents' car without permission.
2. She hit an old lady.
3. The old lady died.
4. Sophie's family had to pay the old lady's family and for the funeral.
5. Sophie's family became hobos....
Eventually Sophie ends up in jail!!! In these chains, all roads lead to jail. Another character went to jail and was in solitary confinement. Another was in airport jail!

Later we added a little difficulty by asking groups to link their chains together with a few chains. One group got creative and had the main character change his name to make the new chain make sense.

To assess students, I asked them to choose a point on the chain were they would have chosen a different effect and then show the sequence of events from the new effect. 

The kids love the chain and tell all of our visitors about the activity. I loved that it was fun and creative and not just, "read the story and find causes and effects." It was loud, but that never really phases me unless I have a headache. 

How do you spice cause and effect up?



  1. This sounds like a good review... Thanks!

  2. This looks super fun! I have a feeling all of our roads will end with hobos and jail, too. What is it about those two?! I am definitely going to try it sometime!

    Twenty-Six Minutes for Lunch

  3. As much as I love all the cause and effect graphic organizers that come with my Scholastic News magazines, this looks like so much more fun. Thanks for sharing, Stacy @

  4. Thanks for sharing this great idea. I really appreciate that you shared your students' example. It was authentic and kinda' funny. :)

  5. What a great idea! If the first link were attached to other "chain of events", or maybe any of the other links, like interactive story books do. You can also choose an event to be the outcome, then work your way toward that, like, what do you want to do when you grow up? Of course this type of chain could be for older kids too.


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