Activity Overview

Creating a plot diagram not only helps students learn the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help 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. In this activity, students will create a visual plot diagram of major events in The One and Only Ivan. Students should identify major turning points in the novel such as the Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.

Plot Diagram Example

Exposition: The Big Top Mall and Video Arcade is Ivan’s home. He and his friend Stella, an old and wise African elephant, have lived here for years, confined and used for the entertainment of humans. Stella’s health is declining, and being cooped up for so long is really taking its toll on Ivan.

Rising Action: When Mack buys Ruby, a baby elephant, to make the arcade more appealing for visitors, she and Stella form an instant bond. Stella’s foot infection gets worse and spreads, with little hope that Mack will do anything due to lack of money. Stella dies, and Ivan has promised to take care of Ruby.

Climax: Ivan works day and night to create pictures of Ruby in a zoo for the large billboard on the street. Julia and her father pick up on Ivan’s plan, and hang the pictures at night for all to see the next morning.

Falling Action: The billboard attracts the attention of many people, including protesters who think the confinement of the animals is unfair and cruel. People in white coats keep coming by, and train Ivan and Ruby to go into a box. Could these people be taking them to a better place?

Resolution: The Big Top Mall is closed down and the animals are all brought elsewhere. Bob goes to live with Julia and her dad, and Ivan and Ruby are taken to a wonderful zoo, where they are with their own kind and have plenty of space in the open air.

Template and Class Instructions

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

Due Date:

Objective: Create a visual plot diagram of The One and Only Ivan.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Separate the story into the Title, Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  3. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components using appropriate scenes, characters, and items.
  4. Write a short description of each of the examples in the plot diagram.
  5. Save and exit when you're done.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/3] Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution
  • [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/5/2] Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.


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

Plot Diagram Rubric
Create a visual Plot Diagram that summarizes the story. The storyboard should have six cells: Title, Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution. 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.

More Storyboard That Activities

The One and Only Ivan

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