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Because of Winn-Dixie Holes Esperanza Rising
Chasing Vermeer


Lesson 2: Cause & Effect with The Treasure of Green Lake

Grade Level: 5–8, with extension ideas for lower-level readers

1 day

Student Objectives
Students will:

  • Answer questions about the story's plot, demonstrating their understanding of the novel
  • Make decisions about game play that demonstrate their understanding of the cause-and-effect relationships that exist across the storylines
  • Use problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination to navigate a maze using arrow keys
  • Practice spelling and typing important vocabulary words from the story
  • Demonstrate an understanding of chain reactions in the story in which one event directly leads to another
  • Show familiarity with major characters from the novel

Language Arts Standards (4th Ed.)

  • Understands complex elements of plot development (e.g., cause-and-effect relationships; use of subplots, parallel episodes, and climax; development of conflict and resolution)
  • Makes, confirms, and revises simple predictions about what will be found in a text (e.g., uses prior knowledge and ideas presented in text, illustrations, titles, topic sentences, key words, and foreshadowing clues)


  • Computer: activities can be modified from one computer to a whole computer lab
  • Flashlight Readers: Holes The Treasure of Green Lake
  • Cause-and-Effect graphic organizer (PDF)
  • Ten or more dominoes or similar blocks
  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • Optional: Art supplies (paper, glue, markers, etc.) for extension activity
  • Optional: LCD or overhead projector to display activities


  • Bookmark Flashlight Readers: Holes on the computers students will use
  • NOTE: If students have limited access to computers, print activity screens and make transparency copies to post on an overhead projector.


Step 1:
Discuss with students the role cause and effect have in the story's plot. Remind students that an effect is what happens and a cause is why it happens. Point out that Stanley actually believes that the reason, or cause, of his being sent to Camp Green Lake was the result (effect) of the curse on his great-great grandfather. Create a two-column table on the chalkboard and provide examples of other cause-and-effect relationships from Holes :

Cause Effect
Eating Sam's onions Yellow-spotted lizard doesn't hurt Zero and Stanley
Digging holes every day Stanley is strong enough to carry Zero up the mountain
Sam's overturned boat Zero and Stanley can escape the heat for a while and survive

Distribute copies of the cause-and-effect graphic organizer (PDF) and have students list more cause-and-effect relationships from the story. Encourage them to specifically consider how the events from long ago during Elya Yelnats' time in Latvia affected present-day events at Camp Green Lake . Invite students to share their ideas with the class.

Step 2:
Now introduce the concept of chain reaction. Explain that chain reaction is similar to cause and effect, but refers to a series of incidents where one directly leads to the next. Take the dominoes and line them up one after the other. As you place the first domino, give an example of something that happened in Holes and ask the class what happened next as a direct result. For instance:

  • Zero can't read (first domino)
  • Zero steals the sneakers, but doesn't know they belong to Clyde Livingston because he can't read the sign (second domino)
  • Zero realizes the shoes are a big deal because people are really upset that they're missing (third domino)
  • Zero quickly walks out of the shelter and leaves the shoes on a car parked on a freeway overpass (fourth domino)
  • The shoes fall off the car and hit Stanley (fifth domino)
  • Stanley picks up the shoes and runs (sixth domino)
  • A patrol car stops Stanley (seventh domino)
  • Stanley is arrested (eighth domino)
  • Stanley is sentenced to Camp Green Lake (ninth domino)
  • Stanley meets Zero (tenth domino)

Once a series of dominoes have been placed in a line, ask for a volunteer to tip the first domino, causing the entire line to fall over. Invite students to break into small groups to figure out their own chain reaction from the story. Supply them with a set of blocks to create their own chain reaction effect. Ask volunteers to read out their chain reaction examples and then demonstrate the chain reaction with their blocks.

Step 3:
Introduce the game, The Treasure of Green Lake. Tell students their knowledge of cause and effect, chain reactions, and familiarity with the story of Holes will all be tested with this game.

Before having students play The Treasure of Green Lake, review the object of the game and read the instructions together. Point out that in this game, just like in the book, there are many effects both positive and negative that could result from Stanley 's decision to run away from Camp Green Lake. Have students brainstorm what some of the effects are, such as running out of water, getting bitten by a yellow-spotted lizard, or finding the buried treasure.

Explain that as students move through the game, they will come upon gold Question Coins, representing story challenges, and spiraling clouds, representing Time Warps. When the students encounter a gold coin, they will be challenged by a question that tests either their comprehension of the story or their understanding of chain reactions within the book. Time Warps will transport students to another story strand (either Latvia or Green Lake during Kate Barlow's time), and their decisions while in the Time Warp may directly influence their success in the main game. Ask students how they might classify the idea that what happens in the past affects the future (cause and effect).

Point out the collectible items located throughout the desert. Explain that each item is related to the book in some way and that collecting them affects a player's journey. Have students think about what they know about the items. Can they use the information they have about them to predict how each item will affect the game? Record students' predictions on the chalkboard.

Step 4:
Students can independently play The Treasure of Green Lake. Encourage them to try again if they do not succeed in finding the treasure.

Step 5:
Once students have played The Treasure of Green Lake and completed the Holes Match 'Em Up Challenge, they will earn a reward. By clicking the Secret Drawer, they will find a photo of Camp Green Lake that they can download as a screensaver.

Step 6:
After everyone has played The Treasure of Green Lake, have the class review their predictions about how each object would affect the game. Ask: Which predictions proved correct? Which didn't? What other collectibles could you add to this game? What effect would they have?

Assessment & Evaluation

  • Ask students to recount instances of cause and effect or chain reaction from their own lives. Observe if students are comfortable with these concepts and are able to think of additional accurate examples
  • Informally assess students' comprehension of the book by observing students as they play the game. Follow up with students who are unable to answer questions: have them review or re-read sections of the book related to questions they couldn't answer
  • After playing the game, ask students to explain how knowledge of cause and effect and chain reaction affected their experience. What choices were they able to make because they understood these concepts?

Lesson Extensions

1. In the book, students learn that there is only one rule at Camp Green Lake : Don't upset the Warden. But there are clearly other unspoken rules, too, such as don't bother the rattlesnakes and scorpions and they won't bother you. Have students write a Camp Green Lake rulebook or guide for new campers about what they need to know to survive. In their guidebooks, ask students to consider what kind of "effect" breaking these rules might cause. What chain reactions could disobedience set in motion?

2. Inventions (like Stanley's father's invention for getting rid of foot odor) are another example of cause and effect. Have students brainstorm inventions they think would have positive effects on our world. Have each student make a diagram of his or her invention, labeling its parts. They should also write a brief description of the invention and explain what problem it solves and how. Display the invention diagrams on a bulletin board for others to see.

3. Have the class put the Warden on a Cause-and-Effect Trial! Encourage them to play the roles of defense attorneys and prosecutors. All arguments should be presented in a cause and effect (or chain reaction) framework. They should assemble evidence, call witnesses, argue both sides of the case, etc. They should also decide whether they should let the Warden testify on her own behalf. Invite students from another class who haven't read Holes to act as a jury to reach a verdict based on the strength of the case each side presents.

4. Ask students to adopt the persona of a camper at Camp Green Lake the camper could be a completely made-up character or character in the book, as long as the selected camper is not Stanley or Zero. Have your students write a journal entry from that camper's perspective explaining how he ended up at Camp Green Lake, thanks to events in the previous couple of generations of his family similarly to the way that Stanley ended up there because of his great-great-grandfather.

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