Activity Overview

A common use for Storyboard That is for students to create a diagram showing the five act structure of a play. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of plot, but it also reinforces major actions from the play, helping students develop a greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create and show a storyboard that captures the concept of the Five Act Structure by making a five-cell storyboard, like the one below. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the acts in order: Prologue, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Denouement.

Example The Crucible Five Act Structure

Act 1: Prologue

The play takes place in Salem, MA

A young girl, Betty, is in a coma-like state. Her father, Reverend Parris, is minister to the town of Salem. It is revealed that a group of young girls led by Parris' slave, Tituba, were dancing and doing voodoo in the woods. A townsman named John Proctor enters; it is clear that he can see through the lies of the girls, who are now claiming they know who in town has signed the Devil's black book. The audience is made aware that Proctor once had an affair with Abigail (Parris' niece). Parris decides that he should call Reverend Hale, a witchcraft expert.

Act 2: Conflict/Rising Action

Reverend Hale begins to place anyone who the girls name on trial for witchcraft. It is clear to the audience that no one is conspiring with the Devil in town. Instead, it is Abigail who is controlling the younger girls so that they do not get in trouble. Abigail speaks to Proctor again, in hopes of rekindling their relationship. Proctor snubs her. Abigail accuses John's wife Elizabeth and goes as far as having evidence planted in their home.

Act 3: Climax

In an attempt to uncover the deception of the young girls, John Proctor brings Mary Warren to testify that Abigail is lying to the court. However, the girls turn on Mary and say that she is being bewitched by Proctor. Both he and his wife are then arrested.

Act 4: Falling Action

Parris, Hale, and Judge Danforth attempt to get the prisoners to confess. Some do so to avoid death, while others firmly deny that they are not witches to preserve their reputation. Abigail has robbed Parris and run away. In a final attempt to uncover the truth, Proctor confesses his adultery to the court. However, when they ask Elizabeth Proctor, she lies to protect her husband's honor and she says it's not true. This results in John Proctor's death.

Act 5: Denouement

In the end, Parris is voted out of office. A rumor that Abigail became a prostitute in Boston circulates throughout Salem. Elizabeth Proctor remarries, and the farms of the executed go untended for years.

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 plot diagram of The Crucible.

  1. Separate the play into the Prologue/Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Denouement.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the acts.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/3] Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/5] Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise


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

Five Act Structure Rubric (Grades 9-12)
Create a plot diagram for the play using Prologue/Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
Proficient Emerging Beginning Try Again
Descriptive and Visual Elements
Cells have many descriptive elements, and provide the reader with a vivid representation.
Cells have many descriptive elements, but flow of cells may have been hard to understand.
Cells have few descriptive elements, or have visuals that make the work confusing.
Cells have few or no descriptive elements.
Textables have three or fewer spelling/grammar errors.
Textables have four or fewer spelling/grammar errors.
Textables have five or fewer spelling/grammar errors.
Textables have six or more spelling/grammar errors.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out. Student has done both peer and teacher editing.
Work is well written and carefully thought out. Student has either teacher or peer editing, but not both.
Student has done neither peer, nor teacher editing.
Work shows no evidence of any effort.
All parts of the plot are included in the diagram.
All parts of the plot are included in the diagram, but one or more is confusing.
Parts of the plot are missing from the diagram, and/or some aspects of the diagram make the plot difficult to follow.
Almost all of the parts of the plot are missing from the diagram, and/or some aspects of the diagram make the plot very difficult to follow.

How To Compare Stories that Follow Five Act Structure and Three Act Structure


Introduce the Structures

Introduce students to both structures separately. Teachers can also draw a side by side comparison for students on the board so the differences are more noticeable. Assess the prior knowledge of the students regarding these structures and mould the lecture around their existing knowledge.


Give Prominent Examples

Give clear and interesting examples of plays or stories that follow each structure separately. For instance, Shakespeares' plays follow five act structures and other plays follow a three act structure. Students can use a Venn diagram to analyze similarities and differences in the structures of these plays to get a more clear understanding.


Analyze Complexity Levels

Ask the students to find out if one framework tends to produce narratives that are longer and more complicated than the other. Take note of whether this has an effect on the complexity of the storyline or the depth of character development.


Find Recurring Elements

Both structures have differences but at the same time, they possess a few similarities. Key components including an initiating event, rising action, a climax, and a conclusion are included in both models. Encourage the students to pay close attention to how each structure distributes these components and how even these similar components can make a difference based on how they are employed.


Analyze Engagement Level

Consider the various ways that each structure may captivate the audience. Does one format maintain audience interest more consistently than the other, while also building to a more dramatic climax? Students can reflect on these elements and give their own assessment of whether one framework is better than the other.

Frequently Asked Questions About Five Act Structure - The Crucible Summary

How does the five-act structure of "The Crucible" improve the narrative for the readers?

The five-act structure offers a precise framework for escalating conflict, illuminating individual motives, and directing viewers through the intricate Salem witch trials story. It makes it possible to express the story's ideas and conflicts in a way that is effective and well-paced. The structure also provides readers with a clear sense of direction in the story and creates a sense of captivity and engagement.

What actions are shown as the rising action in "The Crucible"'s plot diagram?

The tension and strife surrounding the charges of witchcraft are part of "The Crucible's" growing action. Hysteria spreads, there are trials, and personal tensions get worse, especially between people like John Proctor and Abigail Williams. During this part, the lies and deceit become a prominent part of the theme which makes a path for the climax and falling action of the story.

This Activity is Part of Many Teacher Guides

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