Activity Overview

With Storyboard That, students can diagram a play’s five act structure to show the sequence of events. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of plot, but it reinforces major actions from the play and helps students develop greater understanding for literary structures. Read more about the five act structure in our article.

Richard III Five Act Structure Example

Act 1: Prologue

The play takes place after the end of the War of the Roses, with the House of York as victor. Richard III makes his intentions clear: he is going to install himself as king by getting rid of Clarence, waiting for Edward to die, and marrying Lady Anne Neville, Prince Edward’s widow.

Act 1: Conflict

Richard begins to manipulate those around him. He proposes to Lady Anne, convincing her that he killed her husband because he’s in love with her. King Edward IV is very sickly, and his two sons are too young to rule. The throne is going to defer to Richard, and Queens Margaret and Elizabeth are dismayed and angry at this prospect.

Act 2: Rising Action

Richard has Clarence murdered. Edward IV dies, and young Prince Edward is to be crowned king. Richard has Elizabeth’s relatives arrested, so Elizabeth takes sanctuary with her youngest son in hopes that Richard won’t pursue them.

Act 3: Climax

Richard places Edward IV’s two sons in the Tower of London. Richard kills Lord Hastings, and convinces the Lord Mayor of London that Edward’s sons are illegitimate, and that the people want him to be crowned king instead. He and Queen Anne are crowned the next day.

Act 4: Falling Action

Richard orders Buckingham to kill the two young princes; however, when Buckingham doesn’t, he hires a man named Tyrell and Buckingham falls out of Richard’s favor. Richard plans to kill Queen Anne and marry Edward IV’s daughter, Elizabeth, his niece. The Earl of Richmond gathers an army and marches against Richard for control of the throne. Queen Elizabeth arranges to have her daughter married to Richmond instead.

Act 5: Denouement

Buckingham is beheaded. The night before the battle, all of the ghosts of Richard’s victims visit him in his dreams to tell him he will lose. Richard’s allies are with him mostly out of fear; most desert him in the actual battle against Richmond. Richard’s horse is killed, and Richard rages around the battlefield, out of his mind and searching for Richmond. Finally, Richard finds Richmond, the two fight each other in a duel, and Richmond kills Richard. Richmond is crowned King Henry VII and announces his plans to marry Elizabeth, Edward IV’s daughter. This unites the two houses finally under the Tudor dynasty.

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 Richard III.

  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

Grade Level 9-10

Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)

Type of Assignment Individual or Partner

Type of Activity: The Five Act Play (Dramatic Structure)

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.

More Storyboard That Activities

The Tragedy of Richard III

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