EL Support Lesson

Cause or Effect?

Use this lesson to help your ELs understand the relationship between cause and the effect sentences. It can be a stand-alone lesson or a support lesson to the Fiction Comprehension: Cause and Effect lesson.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Fiction Comprehension: Cause and Effect lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Fiction Comprehension: Cause and Effect lesson plan.

Students will be able to recognize cause and effect relationships and how they relate to the story when reading fiction.


Students will be able to recognize cause and effect relationships with signal words using a graphic organizer.

(7 minutes)
  • Briefly summarize the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and do a picture walk highlighting the actions of the mouse and boy. Ask questions like, "What would happen first? What might happen after?"
  • Tell the students this book shows causes and effects. Emphasize that a cause happens before the effect. The series of events between the mouse and boy began with the cookie the mouse ate.
  • Ask students to turn and talk to their elbow partner about what happened after the mouse ate the cookie.
  • Draw a T-Chart on the board and list the cause (e.g., the mouse ate the cookie) with the effect (e.g., the mouse wanted milk).
(8 minutes)
  • Label the T-Chart with the heading Cause and Effect and define them both. Reiterate the cause and effect about the mouse from the introduction, then provide an everyday example that has a cause and effect. For instance, "I’m going back home because I forgot my gym bag."
  • Define the rest of the keywords (performance, audience, auditorium). Distribute the Vocabulary Cards worksheet to each student and then have them read the definitions in their partners and rephrase the definitions.
  • Provide an additional example of a cause and effect relationship with the vocabulary words. For example, "I forgot to tie my shoes when I got into the auditorium, so I fell down during my dance performance." Write I forgot to tie my shoes under the column that says "Cause" and I fell down. in the column that says "Effect."
  • Circle the word so in the sentence and list the following signal words on the board: since, because, so. Explain that sometimes these words link the cause and the effect together and show the order that things have happened.
  • Allow students to act out the example and provide their own examples of things that can happen while in an auditorium or during a performance. Ask them to act out their own example of a cause and effect relationship.
(10 minutes)
  • Refer to the signal words on the board and tell them they can use them in their sentences to describe the cause and effect scenario they acted out. Remind them they can use the signal words in their sentences too. Provide the following sentence frame: "In the auditorium I ____ because _____."
  • Distribute the Pair the Cause and Effect worksheet and read through the directions. Model how to find and match the cause and effect for the first two problems, making sure to think aloud your process. For example, tell them why you circled the signal words and how you could label the cause and effect.
  • Separate students into partnerships and ask them to answer the rest of the problems. Remind them that even though the directions do not say to circle the signal words, they need to do so and label the cause and the effect. Then, have them copy the causes and effects in the table.
  • Allow them to switch partners and share their answers with their new partners. Conduct a poll with thumbs up or thumbs down by asking them if they had to change their answers after their second partnership.


  • Allow ELs to give responses in their home language (L1) or new language (L2).
  • Allow them to draw additional pictures on the Vocabulary Cards for each of the definitions and watch the video of the book If you Give a Mouse a Cookie for examples of causes and effects.
  • Provide word banks and sentence frames for the formative assessment.
  • Have visuals or allow them to draw the scenarios in the Pair the Cause and Effect worksheet. Allow them to cut out the fragments and move them around to better read the pairs.


  • Ask ELs to orally provide their own cause and effect scenarios first and then share them with their low to intermediate proficiency partners.
  • Have them write their examples on the board and circle their signal words.
(5 minutes)
  • Distribute index cards and ask students to copy the following sentence on their index card: "Mathias didn't want to eat his lunch because he felt sick." Have them read their card aloud to themselves and then to a partner to verify they wrote the sentence correctly.
  • Ask them to circle the cause and effect signal words in their sentence and then draw a T-Chart on the back of the card with the heading cause and effect. Ask them to write a sentence about the cause and another sentence about the effect.
  • Provide the following sentence stems:
    • The cause was____.
    • So, the effect is/was____.
(5 minutes)
  • Tell students that knowing the cause and the effect can be helpful when considering why a character did or said a certain thing in a story. Understanding the reasons why a person feels a certain way or said something can help you get to know the character better.
  • Review their independent practice answers and ask students to notice the signal words for cause and effect. Ask students, "Are there any words in common you see in a particular column?"
  • Allow a few students to share an additional cause and effect relationship from the story or their lives.

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