You are teaching a lesson and everything seems to be going oh so smoothly.
Your kids are smiling. They giggle at your jokes, write correct answers on their pages, and eagerly raise their hands to answer your well crafted, in depth questions.
Suddenly, little Tom Joe hauls off and hits Paco. Your lesson comes to a screeching halt.
You comfort poor Paco and ask Tom Joe, "Why on Earth did you hit him?" Tom Joe, who is also crying, responds, "Because he's mean!"
"Because he is ALWAYS mean to me!
"Tom Joe, tell me WHY you hit him." (Or ruined my incredible but ultimately doomed teaching groove?)
Sound familiar? Little Tom Joe is struggling with cause and effect! Identifying cause and effect sounds so simple, right?
Unfortunately, young children often have a hard time connecting a cause to a plausible effect.
If you teach children of any age, I am positive you have heard a whole array of awkward or outrageous answers to the question, “Why do you think that happened?” (Everything from a violent friend, alien abduction to a hungry dog.)
It’s important for our students to identify why something happens. This skill is needed in Reading, Science, and well every subject. But more importantly, our students need it to be successful in life.
In today's "We Need It Instantaneously" society, our students need the ability to rapidly reflect on their work. They must be able to identify why things happen and how to fix problems/shortcomings quickly.
As educators, how can we help our children problem solve?
Great Board Games:
Who doesn't love a rousing game of Uno? What about Connect Four?
These are great beginnings for teaching Cause and Effect. As you play ask questions like, "Why did you play that card?" or "What happened when-?"
Some examples of more complex games for older students might be Checkers, Chess, or even Risk.
Here is A Game to Play in the Classroom: Doctor, Doctor
Give your students a scenario. “You forgot sunscreen and now have a sunburn.”, “You ate to much chocolate and now your stomach hurts.” Etc. They stand in front of the rest of the class who are the doctors. The doctors ask yes or no questions until they figure out the cause of the “illness”.
Science in a Jar...
After finishing a Science investigation, read aloud, or any activity, really... Have your students help you write questions to put in your Science Jar. Use cause and effect sentence stems...
"Why did the-"
"What happened when we-?"
This is a great closure activity for Science to see if your students really got it. Place the strips in a can or jar. When you have some down time, need a transition, etc. call on a student to pull a question out. Go over the answer and ask the students if they are finding the cause or the effect.
And drum roll please! My suggested Read Alouds!!!