Activity Overview

An exceptional way to help your students follow a story is to have them track the events from it. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of a plot, it also reinforces major events, and helps students develop greater understanding of literary structures. For a novel that has multiple plots, this is an excellent way for students to keep them all straight. At the elementary level, tracking plot points is a great place to start developing your students' understanding of plot structure before moving on to more complicated concepts, such as five act structure.

Teachers can ask students to create a storyboard that captures the concept of the narrative arc in a novel by using any of the examples which come with templates found on the Parts of a Story article.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a visual Event Arch of Holes.

  1. Separate the story into the Introduction, Problem, Events, Climax, Problem is Resolved, and Conclusion.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story parts.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the Event Arch.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/4/1] Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/4/2] Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/4/3] Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Event Arch Rubric
Create a visual Event Arch that summarizes the story. The storyboard should have six cells: Introduction, Problem, Events, Climax, Problem is Resolved, and Conclusion. Below each cell, type in a description of that part of the story.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
Cells include images that help to tell the story and do not get in the way of understanding. Descriptions match the images.
Descriptions do not always match the images.
Descriptions are missing or do not match the images.
Each of the six cells represents a different part of the story. The cells are in order from beginning to end.
Two cells or fewer are out of order, or the storyboard is missing important information.
Important information is missing and/or three or more cells are out of order.
Spelling and Grammar
Spelling and grammar is mostly accurate. Mistakes do not get in the way of understanding.
Spelling is very inaccurate and hinders full understanding.
Text is difficult to understand.

How To Teach the Narrative Arc in an Elementary Classroom


Identify the Elements of the Narrative Arc

The first step is to explain the elements of the narrative arc to students. Teaching the vocabulary of the narrative arc will empower students and help them to differentiate between the parts of the arc.


Find the Climax First

Often students are overwhelmed about where to start, and ironically, starting in the middle seems to help. If students find the turning point first, the moment after which nothing is the same, then everything else in the narrative arc will fall into place.


Fill in the Other Important Events

After finding the climax, students can fill in the elements of the arc that are before and after that in order to understand the full narrative. Some students will need scaffolding as the teacher walks around the room.

Frequently Asked Questions about Holes Plot Diagram and Summary

How can I track the events in a story?

The easiest way to track events in a story is to create a plot line for the story. This is a visual representation of a mountain, with the early story events climbing the mountain, and the later events going down the other side.

What is the climax, or turning point, of Holes?

In the story Holes, the main character Stanley is sure that he is cursed. He gets in trouble and is sent to a boys' detention camp. The turning point of the story is when he carries his friend up a mountain and the curse is lifted.

What is a narrative arc?

The narrative arc of the story refers to the way the story is laid out. At the beginning, the setting and characters are introduced, and things start to happen. The arc rises up to the climax, after which nothing will be the same. Finally, the action starts wrapping up and the story is resolved for the characters.

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