January 2014

The Boston Molasses Flood
of 1919

This exciting story brings to life a little-known disaster, in which a giant molasses storage tank broke apart, unleashing a giant wave of molasses on a Boston neighborhood.

Download the article to project on your whiteboard.

Download the on level version.

Download a lower-Lexile version.

Note: The on-level article PDF cannot be printed or copied, but the lower-Lexile version is printable. Both versions will expire after one year.

Teaching Objectives:

This lesson will help students identify the causes and effects of the molasses flood.

Featured Skill:

Cause and effect

Other Key Skills: text features, vocabulary, close reading, text evidence, key details, inference, analyzing, author’s craft, expository and narrative writing


Quizzes and Activity Sheets

Core Skills Workout


Use this package to build your students’ proficiency in four key skills emphasized in Common Core: summarizing, text evidence, making inferences, and text-evidence. We’ve provided two versions—with more and less scaffolding—for some of these activities:


Students will practice using vocabulary from the article. Read more about Storyworks vocabulary here.

Close-Reading and Critical-Thinking Questions

Constructed-response questions that touch on a range of skills. These questions also appear in your printed Teacher’s Guide and can be used for discussion.

Cause and Effect

This activity will help your students identify the causes and effects of the Boston molasses flood.

Interactive Reading-Comprehension Quiz

A test-prep essential! We formed these multiple-choice questions based on state assessments. Need help with interactive pdfs? Visit our FAQ page.

Noninteractive Reading-Comprehension Quiz

A printable version of the quiz above. Includes constructed-response questions as well.

Contest Entry Form

Students write a newspaper article to report the results of the USIA trial using causes of and effects from the molasses flood to support their ideas. To learn more about our contests click here.

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for this article.
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Answer Keys:

Click on the links below to access this issue's answer keys.


Storyworks Audio

Listen to this captivating nonfiction story aloud! Perfect for struggling readers or a great class activity. Find more audio articles here.


Storyworks Audio: The Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 - Lower Lexile Version


Complexity Factors


Skills and Standards