Cause and Effect - The Law of Consequences

A Cornerstone Values Unit

(From PART B (ii), also Refer to Cornerstone Values Page 24)


Introductory Activity

Learning from Ooblek


Take 1 packet of maize cornflour

Mix 300 gms of cornflour with 200 mls of coloured water.

As the ooblek becomes dry add more water.

  1. What happens if you stir the ooblek?
  2. What happens to the ooblek if you tip the container?

What is the effect of stirring the mixture?

What is the effect of pouring the mixture?

What is the cause of that effect?

Which comes first cause or effect?

Can you think of any other ways to show cause and effect?

Simple science experiments to demonstrate Cause and Effect

Experiment 1 - Lift a book with a ruler

Select a heavy book, Lift it up and notice how heavy it is. Make a lever using a ruler balanced across a match box. Make sure the fulcrum (the place where the ruler rests across the match box) is close to one end of the ruler. Place the book on the end of the ruler nearest the fulcrum.

What happens when you press down gently on the end of the ruler without the book?

Is there any connection between the distance that you push down and the height the book reaches?

Is there any way to increase the distance that you can push down?

book with ruler

Experiment 2 - Water in a bucket

Take a small bucket of water outside and tip it upside down. What happens? Why?

Take a small bucket of water outside and try spinning it around in a circle quite quickly. What happens? Why? (Centrifugal force keeps the water pressed against the bottom and sides of the bucket while it spins around. This stops the water from falling out even when it is upside down.)

water in a bucket

Experiment 3 - A model volcano

Make a model volcano by moulding the sides from playdough

Put a small pile of baking soda in the middle, with a few drops of red food colouring. Then drip in some vinegar.

What happens? Why?

model volcano

Experiment 4 - Watch the milk

Add some lemon juice to a small glass of (preferably warm) milk.

What happens? Why?

watch the milk

In each of these four experiments there was a cause and effect

Record these on the following diagrams

Experiment 1

Cause ---------------------------------------------------> Effect

Experiment 2

Cause ---------------------------------------------------> Effect

Experiment 3

Cause ---------------------------------------------------> Effect

Experiment 4

Cause ---------------------------------------------------> Effect

Daddy Fell Into The Duck Pond

Everyone grumbled. The sky was grey.

We had nothing to do and nothing to say.

We were nearing the end of a dismal day.

And there seemed to be nothing beyond,


Daddy fell into the duck pond!

And everyone's face grew merry and bright,

And Timothy danced for sheer delight

Give me the camera, quick, oh quick!

He's crawling out of the duckweed! Click!

Then the gardener suddenly slapped his knee,

and doubled up, shaking silently,

And the ducks all quacked as if they were daft,

And it sounded as if the old drake laughed.

Oh! there wasn't a thing that didn't respond


Daddy fell into the pond!

Alfred Noyes

How was everyone feeling at the beginning of this poem?

How did all those mentioned in the poem, show how they were feeling at the end?

In this poem, what is the cause and what are the effects?

How was, what happened at the end decided by what happened at the beginning?

Share a story that shows what happens at the beginning decides what happens at the end.

Find a newspaper story that is an example of cause and effect.

What has gone wrong?

The principal is not very pleased with Peter and has called him to his office

boy and bike

Why is Peter in the principal's office?

It all started the day before when Peter took another boys bike from the bike shed and rode it to a friend's place.

The boys mother wrote a letter of complaint to the principal. How did Peter cause his own effects?

If Peter accepts the responsibility for what he has done what will he do?

In the following table suggest the missing cause or effect

Cause Effect
You tell a lie to a friend
You cheat in a game
You do something you are told not to
Your parents do not allow you to go to the movie
You are very happy because you have been given $5
You can not stop laughing

The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf

An Aesop's Fable

Every day the shepherd boy was sent with his father's sheep into the mountain pastures to guard the flock, It was, indeed, a lonely spot at the edge of a dark forest, and there were no Companions with whom he could pass the long, weary hours of the day.

One day, just to stir up some excitement, he rushed down from the pasture. crying wolf, wolf. the villagers heard the alarm and came running with clubs and guns to help chase the enemy away, only to find the sheep grazing peacefully and no wolf in sight.

So well had the trick worked that the foolish boy tried it again and again and each time the villagers came running, only to be laughed at for their pains.

But there came a day when the wolf really came. The boy screamed and cried for help. But all in vain! The neighbours, supposing him to be up to his own tricks, paid no attention to his cries, and the wolf devoured the sheep.

What caused the shepherd boy to call, "Wolf! Wolf!" the first time?

What was the effect of the first call, "Wolf! Wolf!"?

What happened when the shepherd boy tried his trick again and again?

When a wolf did come, what was the reacion of the villagers to the shepherd boys cry for help?

What caused them to react that way?

What was the final consequence of the shepherd boy playing his trick on the villagers?

Make a cause and effect diagram that shows what happened in this fable...

What have you learned from this fable?

Write a personal narrative that illustrates the law of cause and effect.

Find a newspaper report that is an example of cause and effect.

Why is the following sometimes called the golden rule?

Always treat others as you would have them treat you

Thinking back

Now that we have finished our unit on cause and effect, why do you think the law of consequences is sometimes referred to as reaping and sowing

Why do you think accidents never just happen?

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