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 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. 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 Plot Diagram for Their Eyes Were Watching God


Janie Crawford returns to Eatonville, and her old friends want to know where she’s been. She’s now in her 40s, and she’s been married three times. She tells her story to her friend Pheoby. Janie was first married off to an older rich man named Logan Killicks by her Grandmother, but Janie was not happy with him. She meets and runs off with a man named Joe Starks who takes her to a new African American town, called Eatonville, where he buys land and becomes the de facto mayor.


Throughout Janie’s first two marriages, she keeps expecting to find happiness; however, she finds herself restless and unsatisfied. She’s not in love with Logan Killicks, and he’s planning on making her work the land. As Joe’s wife, he keeps her on a tight leash. He is jealous of the way the other men in the community look at her, especially her beautiful hair, so he makes sure she ties it up and that she doesn’t interact with the other townspeople.

Rising Action

Eventually, Janie gets so angry at Joe’s insistence on keeping her separated from the townspeople in Eatonville that she lashes out at him and he strikes her across the face. Their relationship is fractured, and Joe grows ill and dies. Janie inherits his wealth, and meets a younger man named Vergible Woods, also known as Tea Cake. Janie falls head over heels in love with Tea Cake, they marry, and they move to the Everglades.


Janie finds happiness with Tea Cake in their marriage, despite an initial rocky start. However, disaster strikes a hurricane that forces the evacuation of the Everglades. Initially, Tea Cake refused to leave, but then seeing Lake Okeechobee flood, he and Janie join others in running for higher ground. Janie ends up in the water and grabs onto a cow with a dog on its back. The dog tries to attack her, and Tea Cake intervenes. He’s bitten in the face by the dog, which is rabid.

Falling Action

Janie and Tea Cake return to the Everglades to help with the post-hurricane cleanup. Tea Cake falls ill a few weeks later, refusing to eat or drink. The doctor diagnoses him with rabies. Tea Cake finds out that Mrs. Turner’s brother is back in town and becomes jealous and suspicious that Janie is seeing him; his jealousy is amplified by the disease taking over his brain. He pulls a pistol on her, and Janie shoots him with a rifle in defense.


Janie is put on trial for Tea Cake’s murder. While most of the black community is against her, the white women take her side. Dr. Simmons testifies on Janie’s behalf about Tea Cake’s disease. Janie is acquitted, and she holds an elaborate funeral for Tea Cake. She is devastated. Janie eventually returns to Eatonville, where she is telling her story to Pheoby. Pheoby promises to curtail any nasty talk about Janie among the women. Janie finds her soul finally feeling at peace because of the love that she had found with Tea Cake.

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 Their Eyes Were Watching God.

  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 9-10

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/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.)

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

Their Eyes Were Watching God

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