4th Grade - Compare And Contrast As Well As Cause And Effect

Reading and Comprehension
Compare and contrast as well as cause and effect
Identify structural patterns found in informational text (e.g., compare and contrast, cause and effect, sequential or chronological order, proposition and support) to strengthen comprehension.
The ability to find patterns in text in order to better understand a story and its components. Patterns are apparent from comparing and contrasting literary elements (e.g. characters, setting), determining the cause(s) and effect(s) of a character’s actions, sequencing the order of the main events in the plot (e.g. beginning, middle, end), and proposing inferences with evidence from the text to support opinions.

Sample Problems


What is a structure? (something that defines an arrangement or configuration)


What is a pattern? (something that repeats over and over)


What is the different between comparing and contrasting? (to compare is to note the similarities between two or more things while contrasting is to note the differences between two or more things.)


What is a cause? (the reason something happens)


What is an effect? (the result, consequence, outcome of something happening)

Learning Tips


Read articles, books or Ebooks (many free online at: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/ebooks/) by the same author and have a discussion to compare their similarities and contrast their differences. Use a Venn diagram (similarities are in green overlapping area; differences are in separate circles:


Read mystery/ horror books or passages out loud to see if the child can predict causes and effects of characters’ actions. Ask questions like, “What do you think will happen next?”, “Why would the character do that?”, and “What is the character’s cause, or reason for taking that action?”


Read a few books in the same genre (e.g. non-fiction like biographies, informational texts, etc. fantasy, realistic fiction, science fiction, mystery, comedy, fairytales, tall tales, fables, etc.) to make propositions about the genre (e.g. fairytales have things that come in threes – 3 little pigs, 3 wishes, etc.). Write these down with at least 3 details to support the proposed generalization or statement. Keep track of the different genre characteristics. There are no “wrong” answers as long as they have justification (explanation) and evidence (proof).


Take favorite or well-known stories, even those that have movies based on them (e.g. Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, etc.) and break the story into parts – beginning, middle, and end. Write each part on a separate piece of paper and mix them up. There may be more than one key event in each section. The child should then sequence the story in chronological order, from beginning to end.

Example: Beauty and the Beast

  1. Belle lives in a town with sisters and her father, who became poor.

  2. Belle’s father gets lost in a forest and finds a castle.

  3. Belle’s father picks a rose for her from the Beast’s castle.

  4. Belle goes to take her father’s place as a prisoner in the castle.

  5. Belle visits her family and returns to find the Beast dying.

  6. The Beast turns into a prince because Belle’s love for him breaks the spell.

The child can then make their own slips of paper with parts of the story and give them to someone else to put in order.


Ask the student questions about a non-fiction informational article, passage, or book:

Why would the author write this – what is their purpose?

How might the author have gathered this information?

What were the struggles or problems noted in the text?

What else would you like to know that the text did not include?

Have a discussion to check the child’s comprehension of the piece of literature. Ask them to draw a picture to go with the text.

Extra Help Problems


What is sequential order? (a progressive organization)


What is chronological order? (an organization by time)


What is the difference between sequential and chronological order? (sequential follows a general sequence while chronological is organized by specific time)


What is a proposition? (a proposed idea or plan)


What is support? (evidence to prove something)


What is a genre? (a category of literature)


What are examples of genres? (fables, fantasy, fairytales, biography, autobiography, mystery, realistic fiction, historical fiction, tales, etc.)


What is the difference between fiction and non-fiction? (non-fiction is true or real while fiction is make-believe or invented)


How are causes and effects related? (a cause can lead to an effect, an effect can become a cause, and the cycle can continue)


What graphic organizer can be used to compare and contrast? (Venn diagram, Double Bubble thinking map)


What graphic organizer can be used to show cause and effect? (Flow Map, cyclical diagram)


What is paraphrasing? (restating the text in your own words)


What is plagiarism and why is it important to not do it? (plagiarism is copying and it is important not to copy because it is unethical and the original author or artist deserves credit)


What is a synonym for a fact? (detail, truth, information, etc.)


What is a synonym for an opinion? (belief, point of view, attitude, etc.)


What is a synonym for evidence? (support, facts, justification, verification, data, etc.)


What parts of a story are necessary for it to be complete? (a beginning, middle, and end)


What story elements are necessary for it to be complete? (plot, setting, characters, problem, climax, solution/resolution)


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