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Lesson Plans
Cause & Effect: Why Did the Pilgrims Come to the New World?
3rd–5th Grade
Objectives Objectives
  • Students will understand the relationship between cause and effect.
  • Students will identify the effect when given a cause.
Materials Materials Needed
Introduction Introduction

Hold up the book …If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620. Tell students that this story takes them back in time so they can understand the events that led the Pilgrims to travel across the sea in search of a new life.

Ask students to listen carefully as you read aloud the passage titled “Where does the Pilgrim story begin?” Then invite children to share what they learned about why the Pilgrims decided to leave England and travel to America.



  1. Provide each student with the “A Chain of Events” reproducible.
  2. Instruct students to fill in the book title and author.
  3. Tell students that you would like them to identify three causes and effects from the passage. Remind them that a “cause” is what leads to an event. That event is called the “effect.”
  4. Model the first one for them by saying, “At the beginning of the passage, we read that some Englishmen held secret meetings so they could have a church that was separate from the king’s church. This caused other events to happen.” Read Cause 1 from the reproducible: “Englishmen held secret meetings.”
  5. Say, “Think about what happened as a result of this event. Can anyone identify the effect?” Solicit responses and affirm answers such as, “The king found out about the meetings and put some men in jail.” Then encourage students to fill in Effect 1 on their papers.

Guided/Independent Practice Guided/Independent Practice

  1. Read aloud the remaining two causes from the reproducible.
        Cause 2: The Separatists were afraid they would be jailed by the king.
        Cause 3: The Pilgrims needed a big boat to travel to the New World.
  2. Guide younger students through the process of looking back at the text to identify an effect of each event. Invite older students to work with partners or individually to identify an effect of each event. For example:
        Effect 2: The Pilgrims moved to Holland to be safe from punishment.
        Effect 3: Some wealthy businessmen made a deal with the Pilgrims to buy the Mayflower.
  3. Encourage students to explain how each pair of events is related.

Extension Activity

Extension Activity

  1. Have students identify three causes and effects from another text. You may choose to have students use a classroom text or a book that they are reading independently.
  2. Give each student a copy of the Cause & Effect Flip Book template and a pair of scissors.
  3. Instruct students to fold the paper in half and cut along the dotted lines, taking care not to cut past the fold.
  4. Have students write the title of the text on the first flap.
  5. Beneath each of the next three flaps, have students draw a picture and write a sentence about an event from the text.
  6. Have students write and draw the cause of each event on the flap.

View the 3rd–5th Grade lesson plan. (Includes all printable materials.)
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