Wringer by Jerry Spinelli is a popular book used in many upper elementary classrooms. It is the story of Palmer, who does not want to turn 10 years old. Then he has to become a wringer. This is a book about peer pressure and individuality, and it is perfect for teaching cause and effect.
Cause and Effect Mini Lesson
While your students are reading Wringer by Jerry Spinelli or while you are reading it to them, you can also teach mini-lessons about cause and effect. These lesson plans will help students understand this important reading skill. One mini-lesson might look like this:
1. To start the reading lesson plan, ask students to tell you a cause and effect example from their last birthday. (If your students cannot do this, then you may need to supply them with your own example first.) Reading skills are easiest to teach and for students to learn when they can make personal connections with real literature. An example of a cause and effect pair about a birthday could be: "Cause: I asked my mom if I could have a slumber party for my birthday, and she said yes. Effect: Five of my friends came over and spent the night."
2. From the beginning of the book, Wringer, we know that Palmer does not want to become a wringer, and he dreads getting closer to 10 years of age. Can your students give you a cause and effect about Palmer's birthday? An example could be: "Cause: Palmer does not want to become a wringer. Effect: He dreads his 10th birthday."
Working in Reading Response Journals
Jerry Spinelli has provided a heart-warming, although sometimes gut-wrenching, tale for teachers to use and to get their students excited about reading. When students are excited about a book and about reading, they will often put more effort into their reading response journals and reading skills practice.
To practice further the reading skills students learned in this lesson plan, ask them to make a list of as many cause and effect pairs as they can from Wringer in their reading response journals. Begin the activity with each student working individually to come up with five cause and effect pairs from the story. These can be as simple as: "Cause: Palmer has a pigeon as a pet. Effect: Palmer worries constantly someone will find out." They can be about big events in the book or small. The important thing is for students to understand that a cause happens first; and without it, the effect would not happen. You can also extend this idea and talk to students about how effects can sometimes cause another event.
Once students have created five cause and effect pairs on their own, place them in small groups. Ask students to check each other's five cause and effect pairs, and then to think of as many more as they can and write them down.