Standard Lesson

The Day Jimmy's Boa Taught Cause and Effect

K - 2
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Five 50-minute sessions
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This lesson introduces the concept of cause and effect with Trinka Hakes Noble's books about Jimmy and his boa constrictor. Each lesson begins with the teacher reading a new story about Jimmy and his boa and the chaos they bring to each place they visit. Class discussions about each event and its cause are followed by tasks for the students to help illustrate understanding of the concept. Students create cause-and-effect pictures, puzzles, and flow charts as they explore the genre. As a culminating activity, students write their own book with causes and effects, which are assessed with a rubric.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

Providing opportunities to learn concepts from a variety of pieces of literature is an important part of language arts instruction. Integrated language arts instruction is usually centered on a language process or a literary text. This integration engages students and helps create meaningful learning experiences. In a study comparing a basal-only reading program and a program with integrated language arts, results indicated that an integrated reading program promoted better readers. The students from the integrated program "read more, had higher scores in story retellings, had higher comprehension scores, and created more original stories, all at no cost to performance on standardized tests." This research emphasizes the importance of integrating a variety of literature within reading programs. This lesson builds on the ideas in the research by using a number of Jimmy's Boa books to explore the concept of cause and effect.

Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

Materials and Technology

  • Books by Trinka Hakes Noble:
    • The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash
    • Jimmy's Boa Bounces Back
    • Jimmy's Boa and the Big Splash Birthday Bash
    • Jimmy's Boa and the Bungee Jump Slam Dunk
  • Blank paper folded in half
  • Chart paper
  • Crayons, markers, and colored pencils for illustrating



    1. Read through each of the books before the class sessions to help with oral reading and full understanding of each cause and effect.
    2. Print the Causes and Effects in the Jimmy's Boa Books handout for reference during lessons.
    3. Print Jimmy's Boa and the Big Splash Birthday Bash Puzzle, and cut into squares (enough pieces for 20 students).
    4. Print and copy the following handouts: Flow Chart Handout, Book Rough Draft Handout, Book Rubric, and Student Checklist handout. Make at least three copies of the Book Handout for each student to use for the final text of the books.
    5. Test the Book Cover Creator on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tool and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.

    Student Objectives

    Students will:

    • participate in class discussions about cause and effect during oral reading.
    • draw pictures illustrating cause-and-effect examples from texts.
    • illustrate examples of cause and effect.
    • write their own examples of cause and effect.
    • create their own cause-and-effect book and book cover.

    Session One

    1. Introduce the book The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash. Point out that there are sometimes only a few words on the pages, so students will have to pay close attention to the illustrations.
    2. Read The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash aloud to the class. Make sure all the students can see the book and each page's illustrations.
    3. While reading the story, ask the students what is happening and why each event occurred. For example: Why did the farmer crash into the haystack? Why were the pigs on the bus? Why were they eating the lunches?
    4. After the story, list some of the events in the story on the board or chart paper. For example: The children threw corn. The chicken got excited and laid an egg. The farmer's wife was screaming.
    5. Ask students what caused these events. (e.g., They ran out of eggs. Jimmy's boa scared the chickens. The boa was in the laundry.) Add these causes to the board or chart paper before the events.
    6. Introduce the vocabulary term cause and effect. Explain that a cause is what makes something happen, and label the first column causes. Explain that each cause has an effect, or what happened, and label the second column effects.
    7. Model how to draw a cause-and-effect picture on the board or chart paper. Draw the cause in the first box and the effect in the next one.
    8. Pass out blank paper for students to fold in half and label "cause and effect."
    9. Ask students to pick any event from the story and draw its cause and effect.
    10. Monitor students' pictures for understanding of cause and effect.

    Session Two

    1. Review the book about Jimmy and his boa that you read during the previous session and the terms cause and effect that the class discussed.
    2. Introduce Jimmy's Boa Bounces Back. Ask students what normally happens at a garden party. If students are unfamiliar with the idea of garden parties, share details on what happens with the class.
    3. Next ask students to predict what will happen when Jimmy and his boa attend a garden party.
    4. Ask students to pay close attention to the pictures and the names in this story.
    5. Read Jimmy's Boa Bounces Back aloud to the class. Make sure all the students can see the book and each page's illustrations.
    6. While reading the book, ask students about the cause and effect. Use the terms cause and effect, and ask students to use them also. For example, instead of asking, "How did Mrs. Rosebud lose her wig," ask "What effect does Miss Ivy's fainting have?"
    7. Discuss whether the events in Jimmy's books are real (reality) or make-believe (fantasy).
    8. Ask students if they can think of some real causes and effects that have happened to them.
    9. Review cause and effect and discuss real-life examples. Ask students what happens when they oversleep or what happens when they study hard for a test.
    10. List the examples on the board or chart paper in cause-and-effect columns. Ask students for more examples and add them to the list as well.
    11. Explain that today students will be creating a flow chart that shows the order in which the events happen.
    12. Have students pick a real-life example and use the Flow Chart Handout to explore the cause and an effect for the example.
    13. Monitor students' flow charts and make sure that the causes are recorded before the effects on the handout.

    Session Three

    1. Introduce Jimmy's Boa and the Big Splash Birthday Bash.
    2. Read Jimmy's Boa and the Big Splash Birthday Bash aloud to the class. Make sure all the students can see the book and each page's illustrations.
    3. While reading the book, ask students about the causes of each event. Use the word cause and ask students to use the term also, as shown in the following examples:
      • What caused Jimmy to put his goldfish on the railing?
      • What was the cause for the children diving in the tank?
      • What caused the sharks to get angry with the seals?
    4. Review the fact that each event has a cause and the result is called the effect.
    5. Explain that you have a puzzle of events from the story Jimmy's Boa and the Big Splash Birthday Bash, but all the events are out of order.
    6. Pass out the puzzle, and ask students to illustrate them before the whole class puts the puzzle together.
    7. Once students finish illustrating their puzzle pieces, put the events in order as a class. Ask the student with the first cause to go first and then ask the class, "Who has the effect?"
    8. Put the puzzles on the board as the class figures out the order of the events.
    9. Discuss how the effect can also be the cause of another event.
    10. If possible, display the class puzzle in the classroom or outside the class for students to refer to later.

    Session Four

    1. Introduce Jimmy's Boa and the Bungee Jump Slam Dunk. Explain that this book is more challenging than the other Jimmy books you have read, and challenge students to pay close attention in order to find the causes and effects.
    2. Read Jimmy's Boa and the Bungee Jump Slam Dunk aloud to the class. Make sure all the students can see the book and each page's illustrations.
    3. While reading the book, ask students about cause and effect. For example, you might try the following questions:
      • Jimmy dances with his boa. What is the effect?
      • The bunnies came into the gym. What was the cause?
    4. Explain that each book the class has read was about a girl coming home and explaining her day to her mother or to a friend. The students will be creating their own story to tell their parents or friends. The story can be a real life example or make-believe like Jimmy's.
    5. Brainstorm examples of both fantasy and reality, and write the ideas on the board or chart paper.
    6. Have students begin a rough draft of their story using the Rough Draft Handout. The rough draft will be a flow chart of three causes and effects. Students will do a quick drawing in each box to plan their story.
    7. Monitor the students' Rough Draft Handouts to make sure the causes and effects are in correct order and make sense.

    Session Five

    1. Before the lesson, look over the students' rough drafts to check for understanding and make sure their causes and effects make sense.
    2. Review the previous session and model the expectations for this session, explaining that today students will make their rough drafts into a story.
    3. Model how students will take their rough draft and make it a book, using copies of the Book Handout.
    4. Model how to write the sentence explaining the pictures first and then go back and add illustrations.
    5. Review the Checklist and the Rubric that will be used to grade each book with students. Discuss what students need to pay attention to while creating their books.
    6. Have students work on their books following this general process:
      • Have students write sentences for each box.
      • Ask students to make a pencil sketch for each illustration.
      • Have students add color to their illustrations.
    7. Monitor students and remind them of the order in which they should be working and the points they will be graded upon.
    8. When students complete their cause-and-effect pages, use ReadWriteThink's Book Cover Creator to create covers for their work.


    • Students who finish early can try this The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash crossword puzzle.
    • PBS Reading Rainbow offers an edible haystack snack recipe to go with The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash. Students will enjoy eating this treat after reading the exciting story of Jimmy's boa and his day at the farm.
    • Extend your study of the Jimmy's Boa books by exploring information about the author, boa constrictors, and other related topics from The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash Hotlist of Internet Activities.
    • Continue your study of cause and effect with the ReadWriteThink lesson Integrating Language Arts Using If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, which uses the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie to teach the concept of cause and effect.

    Student Assessment / Reflections

    • Use the Book Rubric to assess students’ original cause and effect books.

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