Shilah and the Oil Spill | Reading Comprehension | Third Grade

Concept: Cause and Effect

Listen to the story of Shilah the harbor seal and explore the concept of Cause and Effect with your middle elementary students.


The morning started out like any other morning. Shilah the Harbor Seal swam happily in the clear waters off the coastline of Alaska. He spied a yummy salmon and dove for it.

A few feet underwater now, Shilah looked up at the sky, but something was different. The water was not clear and sparkling like it usually was. “Is that a dark black cloud covering the surface of the water?” Shilah said to himself. “I’d better go check it out.”

Shilah popped his head up through the dark black cloud and suddenly felt like he could not breathe. His head, face and fur were covered with something black and sticky. It smelled very bad! He dove back under the water to get away from the smell and looked up at the sky again.

Now everywhere he looked there was a black cloud above him! Shilah started to panic. “I cannot stay underwater forever,” Shilah thought to himself. “I must come up to breathe soon.”

When Shilah could hold his breath no longer, he popped his head back out of the water. He could barely see because the black, sticky stuff was stinging his eyes. Floating all around him were dead fish and birds. “What has happened to my beautiful sea?” thought Shilah as tears filled his eyes. “I must get myself to the shore.”

Shilah slowly dragged himself through the black, sticky stuff and up onto the sandy shore. Just then some humans saw Shilah and covered him with a net. Scared but too tired to fight back, Shilah lay still and silent inside the net. He was being carried away, though he knew not where.

Suddenly, he was put inside a large tub of water. The humans began scrubbing him with something that had a nice clean smell. There were bubbles all around. He heard the words ‘oil spill’ repeated over and over again. “Aaah,” said Shilah, “It feels good to get the black, sticky stuff off my body, out of my eyes and out of my whiskers.”

Soon Shilah felt good as new. He was brought to another home with clean waters and lots of salmon to eat. Shilah was happy again.

Here are some questions to ask your students after they have listened to the story:

What happened when Shilah could not hold his breath underwater any longer?
What happened when Shilah popped his head back out of the water?
What happened when Shilah dragged himself onto the shore?
What made Shilah happy again?



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