Practical Ways to Teach
Cause & Effect in the Classroom
After discovering the Cause and Effect Book List page is the most popular on this website, I looked into activities that you can use in the classroom to teach cause and effect. As it is not the easiest concept to get across to children, I have scoured the Internet for some great, hands-on activities. Some also link to external websites with additional resources.
As teachers, we teach the concept of cause and effect every time we show the connection between events, for example, telling children if they do ‘this’ then they can do ‘that’. Providing children with the opportunities to be part of hands-on activities supports their understanding of how one action influences another.
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If you want to know about teaching cause and effect in the classroom, visit these related posts.
What is Cause and Effect?
Right, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of cause and effect. The cause is WHY something happens and an effect is WHAT happened
Do you ever say to children, ‘if you don’t wash your hands, you will spread germs’ or ‘if you finish your work early you can go outside’? We use cause and effect language every day however that doesn’t mean children fully understand the concept. We need to teach with practical activities.
Teaching cause and effect also helps children academically. Mathematics and science have much to do with cause and effect. And literacy would be boring without it.
What if children don’t understand?
Children use cause and effect in their daily actions, such as a baby dropping a toy repeatedly until you stop returning it! They see their actions have a reaction, but they don’t know this as cause and effect. It is important to ask children why and for them not to answer ‘because’ with no explanation. This could be an indicator they do not understand cause and effect. These activities are a great way to help students to not only understand cause and effect but also verbalise it.
Cause and Effect Activities
- Play a cause and effect matching game where children have to match the cause with the effect. This activity is a great opportunity for further discussion about cause and effect. Read through the full sentences to make sure it makes sense. Students can also play snap with a partner. Shout snap whey they see a matching cause and effect. Needs concentration and understanding.
- Read any book from Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a… series. All the books are a wonderful example of cause and effect and use related vocabulary. As you read, keep a record of all these words.
- Use graphic organisers to record each event/action from the story. Depending on the story there will be a varying amount of effects, and even maybe more than one cause. They also help students see the relationship between cause and effect.
- We Are Teachers has ‘15 Cause-and-Effect Lesson Plans You’ll Love’, including role play, matching games, flip books and graphic organisers.
- Rockin Resources ‘7 Ways to Teach Cause and Effect’ include using photographs, interactive notebook, matching card and colour coding.
- Room Recess has an interactive cause and effect game. The player gets four causes (one ice cream cones) to match to a corresponding effect.
- Kinder Care’s blog post Bubbles + Whisks = Fun Cause and Effect Activities for Toddlers have fun science and water-related cause and effect activities.
- Teach Junkie has collected great cause and effect activities from around the internet. They are suitable for lower elementary but you can adapt them for older children.
Not to sound dramatic but there are real-life consequences for children, not understanding cause and effect. Help them along with their understanding by highlighting vocabulary and circumstances that arise during the day. Take time for discussion and encourage full exploration as to why.
Do you have any tips or favourite activities for teaching cause and effect? Share them below I would love to hear about them!
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