“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” by Laura Numeroff, is a delightful children’s picture book story that shows cause-and-effect, and predicting a chain of events. The story begins with a boy who gives a mouse a cookie, which makes the mouse ask for milk. Each new gift or experience leads to a new response, making the plot more and more complicated, until it ends with the mouse wanting another glass of milk, and consequently, another cookie.
Activity 1: Have all the students work together to build a domino chain, whether they use dominoes, Kleenex boxes, or other materials around the classroom. Challenge them to make it as long and complex as possible. Then have them explain what they think will happen when they touch the first item. Example: “The box will hit the book, and the book will fall on the spoon, and the spoon will throw the ball in the air…” This will give students the opportunity to make predictions. Then start the chain, and find out if all the predictions were correct. If not, see if the students can work out how to adapt their plan to meet their expectations.
Activity 2: Have students create their own story together. As the teacher, provide them with the first phrase, something like: “If I wake up late,” or “If I forget to do my homework.” Go around and have each student add one phrase to the story, and build on each other’s responses. This will help students process all the possible effects of their choices.
Activity 3: Give an individual writing assignment to students, again giving them the first phrase. It could be funny or serious. Ask students to write the rest of the story, including at least five cause-effect items. Then let students share their stories with the class. It’s fun to see how different they will turn out, even with the same beginning phrase.