Cause and Effect Background Information for Teachers and Parents

Grade Levels: K-3

This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about cause and effect.  The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Cause and Effect. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.

Encourage children to be active readers. They should take notes, ask questions, make predictions and inferences, and identify causes and effects as they read. This movie will explore cause and effect and share different examples. It will also identify a few signal words and phrases that can help readers identify causes and effects in text.

Review with children that a cause is why an event happens. The effect is an event that happens because of a cause. For example, slamming the door might cause a loud noise. Brainstorm different examples together. You may want to name a cause and have children identify an effect and vice versa. What can cause you to wake up late? What is the effect of walking in the rain? Discuss together.

Remind children that one event can cause a chain of events to happen. For example, forgetting to set an alarm clock can cause you to wake up late, which means you might be late to school, which can cause you to get in trouble with the teacher. Discuss other examples together. Also explain to children that one event can have many causes. For instance, staying up late the night before and forgetting to set an alarm clock can both cause you to wake up late. Likewise, one event can have multiple effects. What are the effects of arriving late to school? Have children brainstorm different effects.

Encourage children to take notes about causes and effects as they read. They can use graphic organizers such as a cause and effect chart to help them organize their ideas. We recommend reading a piece of writing together and model taking notes in a graphic organizer. Remind children that authors often use key words or phrases that can give clues about causes and effects. If, then, so, so that, since, because, due to, and as a result are phrases that can indicate causes and effects. Write a sentence such as “Mia lost her library books. As a result, she has to pay a fine.” Have children pick out the cause (losing library books) and the effect (paying a fine). Then have children make up their own causes about why Mia lost her library books.

Cause and effect relationships can be challenging for some children to identify as they read. Encourage them to ask questions during and after reading. What made a character act a certain way? What happened because the character did something? What happened when the character did something? Children should pause while they read and think about the text. Encourage them to read actively and engage with the text.