Overview: Students will gain an understanding of circular cause and effect and will become familiar with the notion of recurrent patterns through exploration of the Escalation Archetype in Crocodile and Elephant.

Lesson Objectives

Curriculum Context


  • Students will explain the difference between straight arrow and circular cause and effect by providing examples of each.

  • Students will demonstrate understanding of the concept of recurrent patterns in stories by identifying stories that have similar patterns. 

  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the Escalation Archetype by identifying either a story or a real life situation that illustrates this dynamic.

This lesson is designed to improve reading comprehension skills in 3rd grade students, but it may be adapted for older students.  It incorporates several language arts benchmarks.

  • Change over time

  • Circular causality

  • Negative feedback

  • Balancing feedback 

  • Patterns of behavior



Systems Tools

  • Crocodile and Elephant, Max Velthuijs 

  • Escalation Archetype

  • 64 minutes

  •  Causal loop diagram



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