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Describing Cause & Effect Relationships in a Text: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 Cause and Effect in a Text
  • 1:21 Signal Words for Cause…
  • 1:54 An Example
  • 3:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

In this lesson, we'll examine cause and effect. We'll talk about how to use signal words to identify cause and effect, and explore the reader's role in understanding this part of a text.

Cause and Effect in a Text

You may know that there are several different kinds of informational text patterns, such as sequence or problem and solution text. Some informational text describes a pattern called cause and effect, which is when one decision or event leads directly and perhaps inevitably to another decision or event.

Let's say you're eating an ice-cream cone, and your best friend bumps into you and makes you drop it. We could say that your friend caused you to drop your ice cream cone. How did he do it? He bumped into you. This is a cause and effect pattern. The cause is that your friend bumped into you. What happened because he bumped into you? You dropped your ice-cream. The dropping your ice-cream would be the effect.

Here are some more examples:

CAUSE: I forgot to do my homework.

EFFECT: I had to stay inside at recess.

How about this one?

CAUSE: I ate too many pickles.

EFFECT: I got a stomachache.

Or this one:

CAUSE: My brother left his candy bar in the sun.

EFFECT: The candy bar melted.

Cause and effect patterns are often used in informational books. When you're reading texts with a cause and effect pattern, your job as a reader is to figure out what happened (the effect) and what made that event happen (the cause).

Signal Words for Cause & Effect

Looking for signal words can help you figure out what type of text you're reading. When you're reading a text and trying to decide if it's a cause and effect text, look for signal words like these: *because

  • since
  • therefore
  • as a result
  • this led to
  • so that
  • if/then
  • thus
  • so
  • before/after
  • hence
  • consequently

When you see words like these, it tells you that the text you're reading is probably a cause and effect text.

An Example

Here's a cause and effect passage from Trapped by the Ice by Michael McCurdy. Remember, your job as a reader is to look for what happened (the effect) and what made that event happen (the cause), using signal words.

''Finally the men reached open water. The savage sea slammed furiously into the three little boats. . . Tall waves lifted them up and down like a roller coaster. Blinding sea spray blew into the men's faces. Most of them became seasick. Worst of all, they were very thirsty, because seawater had spoiled the fresh water. . .''

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