When you’re helping children learn about cause and effect, it’s helpful to provide plenty of examples. Discuss the definitions of cause and effect, find everyday examples, then read these delightful children’s picture and chapter books as mentor texts to understand the text and thinking structure!
Cause and Effect
Let’s define terms so you can best support the children in your life when they are trying to learn this concept. The definition of cause and effect according to Dictionary.com is that it’s “a relationship between actions or events such that one or more are the result or the other or others.”
Teach children that the CAUSE is the first thing that happens resulting in something else happening — the EFFECT. This noun is spelled EFFECT. (It is NOT spelled affect.)
Cause is why it happened.
Effect is what happened.
Ask: what happened? why did it happen?
Everyday Cause and Effect Examples (for Kids)
Cause — you go outside in the snow without a coat
Effect — you feel cold
(You could also ask: What happened? You feel cold. Why do you feel cold? You didn’t wear a coat and it’s snowing.)
Cause — you don’t brush your teeth
Effect — you get cavities
Cause — you don’t put the lid on your play-doh
Effect — the play-doh dries out
Cause — you practice your piano (shooting free throws, etc.)
Effect — you improve
Want to diagram this with a graphic organizer?
Use a simple flow chart or two-column chart showing one thing leading to another thing.
Make your own on any size paper.
Cause & Effect Signal Words
If you’re writing or reading, notice that these signal words help readers figure out the cause and effect relationship.
Look for conjunctions: because, as, since, and so.
I went outside in the snow without a coat SO now I feel cold.
Look for transitions: therefore, consequently, and as a result.
I went outside in the snow without a coat. Therefore, I feel cold.
Look for prepositions: due to and because of.
Due to being outside in the snow without a coat, I feel cold.
And just a quick aside, I know so many kids who would NEVER admit they were cold without a coat. Do you know those kids, too?
Cause & Effect Mentor Text Children’s Books
This list of books shares books that illuminate cause and effect in fun and silly ways. You’re going to love using these examples as you discuss this concept.
Plus, you can use these as mentor texts for writing nonfiction cause-and-effect essays.
On Account of the Gum by Adam Rex
ages 4 – 8
A hilarious story of cause and effect with one unfortunate event after the other…all because a girl (you– this is written in the second person) gets gum stuck in her hair. First, the girl’s family tries scissors to cut out the gum. But those get stuck, too! Next, they use two sticks of butter. When that gets stuck, more relatives help out and before long the girl has a head full of gum, butter, scissors, grass, noodles, a pet rabbit, the cat, the vacuum, and a birthday cake! She screams for the fireman to stop when they want to add chili. After her aunt gets stuck up there, it’s time for the girl to go to school. Because guess what?! It’s picture day!
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
ages 4 – 8
Floyd has a problem — his kite is stuck in a tree so he tries to knock it out. First with his shoe, but it gets stuck, too. He tries throwing his other shoe, then his cat, a ladder but everything gets stuck in the tree along with the kite. Quite a bit of odds and ends get stuck in the tree – so much that when he throws one last thing, his kite becomes unstuck.
Rube Goldberg’s Simple Normal Humdrum School Dayby Jennifer George, illustrated by Ed Steckley
ages 4 – 8
Rube uses simple machines in a series of wacky and inventive steps to accomplish basic tasks — which ironically, Rube calls simple. From waking up in the morning to going to bed and lots of tasks in between (painting a picture, catching the school bus, avoiding baby brother’s flying food), kids and adults alike will be fascinated (and entertained) by Rube’s complicated contraptions to do simple things.A wildly imaginative book perfect for budding engineers.
Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxeby Katey Howes, illustrated by Valerio Fabbretti
ages 4 – 8
A charming story about a creative young inventor, illustrated with bright colors and exuberant cartoon-like illustrations. Magnolia Mudd’s Uncle Jamie is marrying Miss Emily. He says that Magnolia can invent something with “Mudd Power” for the wedding.She decides to make the biggest, best flower bouquet launcher ever!Only she might have added too much Mudd Power…
Dirt Cheapby Mark Hoffmann
ages 4 – 8
Birdie dreams up a way to make money for a new soccer ball — sell dirt (cheap).And it works — lots of people buy her dirt and she makes enough money for a ball. Only now she doesn’t have much of a yard to play soccer in anymore. What will she do to get some dirt for her yard? (Open a lawn care service so she can buy some soil!)
The Cow Tripped Over the Moon A Nursery Rhyme Emergencyby Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Joel Stewart
ages 4 – 8
The cow fell, and the Rock-a-Bye Baby did, too.Someone fell off a wall and a weasel goes pop. The Nursery Rhyme ambulance helps them all in this clever rhyming story.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookieby Laura Joffe Numeroff
ages 4 – 8
In a domino effect of crazy cause and effect, we learn that one thing leads to another when you give a mouse a cookie. What will happen after he wants milk?
The Leaf Thiefby Alice Hemming, illustrated by Nicola Salter
ages 4 – 8
Kids will love this darling story about a worried squirrel who thinks that SOMEONE is stealing his tree’s leaves.HIS leaves! Even though his friend Bird tries to help him, Squirrel doesn’t seem to understand the changes that the fall season brings like leaves changing color and wind blowing them off the trees. It’s funny and illuminating — and will spark helpful discussions about the characteristics of fall– with a hint of a winter surprise at the end.
Pizza with Everything on It by Kyle Scheele, illustrated by Andy J. Pizza
ages 4 – 8
Wildly imaginative — this is the story of a pizza-loving boy who decides he should add EVERYTHING on top of his pizza. Pickles and apples, books and pencils, the White House, and a particle accelerator,…so many toppings! Before long, the pizza begins to collapse in on itself and turns into a black hole!! Will it ever become a pizza again? Take a wild ride in this funny picture book that will have kids begging for multiple readings!
Blue, Barry, & Pancakesby Dan & Jason
ages 6 – 9
This graphic novel adventure begins with a beach ball. Blue, a worm, doesn’t want to share the beach ball with Barry and Pancakes because Blue predicts her friends will lose it. They do lose it. (Well, it’s swallowed by a whale.) The misadventures continue a silly cause & effect story, where one disaster leads to another –even into outer space and a volcano– but ends with a sweet celebration of friendship.
Strubble Town Squirrel Do Bad by Stephan Pastis
ages 8 – 12
Because of her overprotective dad, Wendy the Wanderer is stuck inside all day, every day. Until her dad takes a trip and she gets an inattentive teenage babysitter. Before her dad leaves, he reminds Wendy that even the smallest thing can have big consequences. And with that, you might be able to predict that this story will be a cascade of cause and effect mayhem that is funny and also, poignant. Wendy’s first small action is feeding Squirrley McSquirrel a surgery Mooshy drink. The consequence? Squirrely goes crazy around the town and sets off a domino-like chain reaction of events that you couldn’t predict and will keep you laughing out loud.
Sequencing (Beginning, Middle, End)
Problem / Solution
- Cause: We received seven inches of rain in four hours. ...
- Cause: I never brush my teeth. ...
- Cause: I've smoked cigarettes daily for 20 years. ...
- Cause: Many buffalo were killed. ...
- Cause: The streets were snow-packed and icy. ...
- Cause: He broke his arm. ...
- Cause: The boss was busy.
I went outside in the snow without a coat SO now I feel cold. Look for transitions: therefore, consequently, and as a result. I went outside in the snow without a coat. Therefore, I feel cold.What is an example of cause and effect paragraph? ›
The cause and effect text structure is used so commonly that you have probably written a paragraph using it and not noticed. Example 1: Many people think that they can get sick by going into cold weather improperly dressed; however, illnesses are not caused by temperature- they are caused by germs.What is a good cause and effect example? ›
Cause and effect sentences can present the cause first and follow it with the effect, or present the effect first and follow it with the cause. I ate tons of junk food, so now I feel sick. I feel sick because I ate tons of junk food.What are some good examples of cause and effect? ›
For example, a man offends his neighbor by insulting him (the cause). His neighbor becomes angry (the effect and the next cause) and he in turn tells his friends (the next effect and cause). His friends also become angry (another effect and cause) and tell their friends (another effect and cause).What are the 3 types of cause and effect? ›
Two teaching strategies are often effective in teaching students to recognize and understand the cause/effect text structure: teaching signal words (because, so, and since) and teaching the three types of cause/effect relationships (stated, unstated, and sequential).What is cause and effect text story? ›
The cause and effect text structure is generally used in expository and persuasive writing modes. To put it another way: when an author gives reasons why something happened, he or she is explaining what caused an effect (reasons are causes and the thing that happens is the effect).What is a good topic for cause and effect? ›
- The effects of fast food and junk food on overall health.
- The negative impacts of the internet on young children.
- Impact of stress on different aspects of our lives.
- The attack on Pearl Harbor made the US join WWII.
- What causes earthquakes and how.
- Brainstorm Essay Topics. ...
- Establish a Thesis. ...
- Arrange Your Main Points Into Body Paragraphs. ...
- Write a First Draft. ...
- Review Your Work for Clarity and Logic. ...
- Write a Final Draft.
Start with the cause and then talk about the effect. Start with the effect and then talk about the cause. Strong evidence is particularly important in the cause-and-effect essay due to the complexity of determining connections between phenomena.
Writing a Cause-and-Effect Essay
Introduce your topic in an engaging way. End your introduction with a thesis that states the main cause, the main effect, or both. Organize your essay by starting with either the cause-then-effect structure or the effect-then-cause structure.
- Picture books. Picture books are targeted at children ages 2 to 8. ...
- Chapter books. Chapter books are for children ages 7 to 9 and they are 4,000-15,000 words in length. ...
- Easy Reader. ...
- Juvenile books. ...
- Middle grade. ...
- Young Adult books.
- Cause enumeration diagram — A graphic diagram used to list all the possible causes of a problem.
- Dispersion analysis diagram — A diagram used to analyze the causes of variability in a process.
- Process analysis diagram — A flow diagram used to study quality problems.
- chemical reaction.
- vicious circle.
- causal nexus.
- chain of circumstances.
- concatenation of events.
- domino effect.
- powder train.
- ripples in a pond.
- Single cause-multiple effect: namely, that one action has several ramifications.
- Multiple cause-single effect: conversely, that there are several reasons (usually with varying degrees of causation) for one result.