Plot Patterns in Literature Activities

Teaching Plot Development with Advertisements

Check out these two activities to help students identify plot patterns in literature. The first practice activity uses television commercials and the second includes snippets from popular novels. These high-interest activities are sure to be a hit with your students.

 If you are reaching this post without seeing the previous basic plot patterns posts, you might wish to start at the beginning. Be sure to download the handout in the Introduction post as it contains links to all the posts in this series.

Christopher Booker outlined seven basic plots. You will find a post for each plot. Each post contains a handout. This handout includes a foldable graphic organizer going over the basic plot pattern. Examples and outlines help students better understand the plot. Students ‘dig deeper’ with discussion questions. After students explore each plot individually, this activity contains a fun way to practice. Students use television advertisements to help identify plot types.

Begin by downloading the handout. Print copies for the students. Have students watch the television ads while completing the handout.

Activity #1

Students watch the television ads while completing the handout.

Identifying Plots in Literature Using Ads

Activity #2

Students sort the summaries into pockets based on the plot. 

Plot Structure Sorting Activity

Activity #1 – Advertisements to Teach Plot Patterns

Teaching Plot Patterns with Commercials - Gatorade Ad

Gatorade’s The Secret to Victory commercials feature top athletes. They explain that the essential ingredient to achieving career success is to overcome defeat.

Teaching Plot Patterns with Commercials - Prudential Ad

Prudential filmed a series of mini-documentaries showing retirees on their very first day off after a lifetime of working.

Teaching Plot Patterns with Commercials - Empty Seat Ad

The Empty Seat PSA raises awareness for teen suicide.

Teaching Plot Patterns with Commercials - Chanel Ad

A famous celebrity runs away in the middle of Times Square. She grabs a cab. The lady ends up with a  strange man. After four days together, the lady’s secretary commands that she return to her celebrity life. The paparazzi take pictures of the lady as she walks upstairs. Sitting in the letter C on top of the “Coco Chanel” building is the man. The two smile at each other as the film ends.

Teaching Plot Patterns with Commercials - Chrysler Ad

The film features scenes of Detroit as Eminem drives from location to location throughout the city.

Teaching Plot Patterns with Commercials - Intel Ad

Intel’s “Look Inside” campaign features humans who achieve remarkable feats. Jack Andraka develops a new method to detect cancer. Mick Ebeling who lost both arms during a bombing in South Sudan receives prosthetic arms. Erik Weihenmayer climbs all the top summits blind. Intel technology aids each person.  

Teaching Plot Patterns with Commercials - Allstate Mayhem Ad

Allstate features Mr. Mayhem who hints at what is about to happen. For example, a portable grill that is hastily put together leads to an explosion. A distracted driver wrecks his car. Raccoons inside the roof damage the attic. Each commercial ends with Mayhem telling viewers that by having Allstate, they will be better protected with trouble happens.

Activity #2 – Sorting Text by Plot Structures

Identifying Plot Development Types Activity
Plot Structure Sorting Activity


The handout contains seven pockets, one for each plot. Glue and assemble the pockets onto a file folder. Print the twenty-eight summaries on cards. Print out the cards. Laminate them for repeated use. Cut the cards apart.


Students read a book and movie summary. Next, they decide which of Booker’s seven plots the summary best fits. Students sort the summaries into pockets based on the plot. Finally, students record their answers on a chart. 

This activity is great for individual morning reviews, centers, or small group activities.

Gay Miller

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