Activity Overview

A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and helps students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.

Example The Handmaid’s Tale Plot Diagram


In the Republic of Gilead, Offred, a young Handmaid, has just started her newest post at the Commander’s house. As a Handmaid, it is her duty to bear the Commander and his wife a child. Offred is unhappy, remembering tidbits of her life before this one, with her husband Luke and their daughter. The Handmaids are forced into this life, and have been trained at the Red Center by the Aunts to be pious and to appreciate their new status.


Offred’s primary conflict throughout the novel is that she has a two-year time period in which to bear the Commander a child. However, the Commander also wishes to get to know Offred better, and begins inviting her to his study late at night without his wife, Serena Joy. Offred and the Commander’s Guardian, Nick, have begun to notice each other as well.

Rising Action

Offred’s daily shopping partner, Ofglen, begins to reveal that she may be a part of an underground resistance movement called Mayday. The Commander plays Scrabble with Offred and begins to bring her gifts, such as women’s magazines which are no longer in print. Eventually, he brings her to a club where men and hired women mingle. Serena Joy desperately wants a child and knows her husband is probably infertile; she develops a scheme for Offred to sleep with Nick.


After a Women’s Salvaging, or public hanging, and a Particicution (where the Handmaids beat a man to death as punishment for the crime of rape), Ofglen reveals that the man was actually a political operative. Later, Ofglen has been replaced by another Handmaid - now “Ofglen.” Offred tests her by mentioning “Mayday”, and discovers that she’s made a terrible mistake when the new Ofglen warns her to forget about those old “echoes.”

Falling Action

Serena Joy finds out about Offred’s outing to the club, and confronts both Offred and the Commander. Soon afterwards, an Eye van arrives to take Offred away. Nick comes up to tell her that they are really Mayday operatives and to trust him, so Offred does. As she is taken from the home, the Commander believes that she will betray him.


The final part of the novel is called “Historical Notes”, and is purportedly a transcript from a symposium looking at the Gileadean era from the year 2195. The speaker gives the history of “The Handmaid’s Tale” transcript, and their attempts to establish its origins and the identity of the Handmaid. The tale was told on a series of cassette tapes, and it was recovered in Bangor, Maine, a known stop of The Underground Femaleroad. It seems that the world has managed to balance itself out population-wise again, and the symposium is designed to understand the foreign and archaic ways of the Gilead nation.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of The Handmaid’s Tale.

  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 11-12

Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)

Type of Assignment Individual or Group

Type of Activity: Plot Diagrams and Narrative Arcs

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/2] Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/3] Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed)
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/5] Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact


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

Plot Diagram Rubric (Grades 9-12)
Create a plot diagram for the story using Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
25 Points
21 Points
17 Points
Try Again
13 Points
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.

More Storyboard That Activities

The Handmaid's Tale

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