Lesson plan

Explaining Environmental Effects

What’s the impact? In this integrated language arts and science lesson students will explore causes and effects that specifically relate to environmental impact, including the effects of human actions.
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Students will be able to explain the cause and effect relationship between actions of individuals and the environmental impact.

(10 minutes)
  • Have the students make a circle around the classroom. Tell the students that they will be tossing a globe/ball to brainstorm ways that people can help or hurt the environment.
  • Begin with the topic of “helping the environment” and ask students to think of ways they can help the environment. Toss the ball to a student and allow that student to share. Then, have the student toss the ball to another student.
  • After a minute, transition to the topic of “hurting the environment.” Use the same procedure as students brainstorm ways that individuals can hurt the environment.
  • Tell the students that they will be reading about the specific ways an individual’s actions can have an effect on the environment. Relate this back to the reading skill of “cause and effect” and tell the students that they will be finding multiple effects in the text.
(15 minutes)
  • Remind students that multiple effects can be a result of a single cause.
  • Display the supplemental text Actions Around the House, or another selected text, on an interactive whiteboard or write it on chart paper.
  • Using the T-chart as described in the materials section, model the process of finding corresponding effects of actions that help or hurt the environment.
  • Once you have modeled the list, model the process of identifying related effects and writing about how they are related.
(15 minutes)
  • Divide students in small groups of three or four students.
  • Distribute cut apart sections of Where’s the Waste? supplemental text. Each group should get one part of the text.
  • Ask the students to identify an individual’s action and its corresponding effects within their section of the text.
  • Guide the students in listing positive and negative effects in the form of a T-chart.
  • Guide the students in writing a brief summary (3 - 4 sentences) of how certain causes and effects are connected and related.
(20 minutes)
  • Distribute the Environmental Impact worksheets and selected books. (All students could have the same topic or you could jigsaw it such that students have separate topics.)
  • Ask students to complete the T-chart that specifies positive and negative effects. Ask the students to write a short summary of connections between any of the effects at the bottom of the page.


  • Use text as a guide to brainstorm other potential effects, matching the text to the topic.
  • Invite students to make historical connections that reveal causes and effects. Utilize books about the history of Native Americans in the United States (including U.S. expansion and Native American removal and relocation) for students to identify causes and effects of certain actions.


  • Use highlighter tape and highlight specific areas of focus for students prior to reading.
  • Ask students to create a one-page infographic that summarizes their information.
  • Take pictures of student work (illustrations and diagrams) and then paste into a Google document. Pair students or invite all students to post comments that include their observations.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask students to create an illustration, diagram, or other visual that represents cause and effects related to their reading. Ask the students to label the parts of the visual, providing sentence explanations.
(10 minutes)
  • Have students place their diagrams/drawings on their desk. Then, ask all students to participate in a “gallery walk” in which they walk around the classroom and look at the other students’ work.
  • Lead a brief class discussion on what they observed.

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