The House of Dies Drear

by

Virginia Hamilton

Literature Unit
Prepared by
Michele Osinski
Temecula Valley USD
"We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,
This debt we pay to human guile'
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties."

    -Paul Laurence Dunbar


Table of Contents
Introduction
Background Information About the Author
Other Books by Virginia Hamilton
Language Arts Skills
Teacher Plan 1
Teacher Plan 2
Teacher Plan 3
Teacher Plan 4
Teacher Plan 5
Teacher Plan 6
Teacher Plan 7
Additional Activities


Title: The House of Dies Drear
Author: Virginia Hamilton Illustrated by Eros Keith
Publisher: Macmillan

Content/Underlying Theme:

"A lushly written story about a contemporary black family that buys the house in Ohio which, a century earlier, Dies Drear and two slaves he had been hiding were murdered. (The house was a stop on the Underground Railroad)"
- New York Times Parents’ Guide to Books for Children

"The house held secrets, Thomas knew, even before he first saw it looking gray and massive on its ledge of rock. It has a century-old legend -- two fugitive slaves had been killed by bounty hunters after leaving its passageways, and Dies Drear himself, the abolitionist who had made the house into a station on the Underground Railroad, had been murdered there, The ghosts of the tree were said to walk its rooms...
"Yes, the house held secrets... did it hold danger as well? Thomas was sure it did, but his obsession that the house give up its secrets led him in, t through the terror of entrapment in its labyrinth of tunnels and to an awesome confrontation with Pluto, the mysterious and formidable "devil" who jealously guarded the house.
"Then suddenly, it was alarming there was danger and the Smalls were being warned to flee. But what kind of danger, and why, and what did it have to do with running slaves and the ordeals of a hundred years ago? Thomas searches, and in searching finds not only the answer to these secrets from the past, but a deeper sense of his own connection to that past."
— from inside cover, 1968 printing
Themes:
Slavery, Underground Railroad, Family, Determination History, Racial Identification.
table of contents

Background Information about the Author:

Growing up on a small farm near Yellow Springs, Ohio, in the 1940s, Virginia Hamilton was lovingly embraced by the sights, sounds and smells of rural America, and by a big extended family of cousins, uncles, and aunts. All these things would come into play in the children's stories
Hamilton would spin as an adult. But probably the biggest influence on Virginia Hamilton -- whom Entertainment Weekly has called "a majestic presence in children's literature" -- was the fact that her own parents were storytellers. And what stories they told! Hamilton’s maternal grandfather, Levi Perry, had escaped as a child, from slavery in Virginia, by crossing the Ohio River to freedom. He had also had plenty of company in this resolve: Fully 50,000 slaves passed through Ohio or settled there during ante-bellum times, aided on the Underground Railroad by Shawnee Indians and white abolitionists. The aging homes where the escaped slaves hid became catacombed with secret passages and hiding spaces.
And all these years later, the description of what happened in those hiding places and "stations" on the Underground Railroad still makes modern children's eyes grow wide.
Young Virginia, named for her grandfathers home state, was one of these children listening at her mother and fathers knee. "My mother said that her father sat his ten children down every year and said, ‘I’m going to tell you how I escaped from slavery, so slavery will never happen to you,"’ the author related in a telephone interview. She added that she traces her own interest in literature to the fact that her parents were "storytellers and unusually fine storytellers, and realized, although I don't know how consciously, that they were passing along heritage and culture and a pride in their history"
Hamilton has picked up on those strains, writing or editing stories for more than 30 children's books, including contemporary novels about teenagers, biographies of the historical figures Paul Robeson and W.E.B. Du Bois, and collections of African— American folklore and slavery-era "liberation" stories. For her work, she has been repeatedly honored with the National Book Award, the John Newbery Medal, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, and, most prestigious of all, the Hans Christian Andersen Medal. Still, probably her most satisfying award has been knowing the contribution she’s made for children who didn’t have family storytellers to tell them of their rich ethnic culture. "Up until this year, I think," Hamilton said in the interview, "5,000 new children’s titles were published every year. And out of that, maybe 40 of them were African-American books." Thanks to Hamilton, who has lent her name for the past decade to an annual conference on multicultural children’s literature -- and thanks to writers who have followed her lead — the dearth of literature about the ethnic experience is beginning to change.
She was born into a big farm family, the daughter of Kenneth James and Etta Belle (Perry) Hamilton; for company, she had two older brothers and two older sisters, hogs, chickens and other farm animals, and endless numbers of relatives who lived on surrounding farms outside the college town of Yellow Springs, Ohio. "It was conceivable you could range a whole day and never leave family land," Hamilton said in the interview. She describes her family as "rural people with not a lot of money"; her father was both a farmer and a dining hall service manager at nearby Antioch College. But, she says, her childhood was a tremendously happy one.
Hamilton received a full scholarship to Antioch College and after three years transferred to Ohio State University and went on to New York and the New School for Social Research where she continued her study of writing. Unlike others of her age who are so often confused about vocation, Hamilton was always set on being a writer; "I started writing as a kid; it was always something I was going to do." Taking off to see the world, she settled in New York City, where she studied writing at the New School for Social Research and fell in love with a young poet, Arnold Adoff, whom she married in March 1960. The couple began a life together in the big city, writing as much as they could, making a living at whatever they could.
During those early years, Hamilton relates, she worked at such varied jobs as cost accountant for an engineering firm, nightclub singer, and museum receptionist. Virginia and Arnold have two children, a daughter Leigh, and a son, Jaime Levi. In 1967 Virginia published her first book. Zeely, and shortly thereafter, she and her family moved back to Yellow Springs.
Zeely is the story of a young girl in rural America who fantasizes that a tall majestic young woman in her town is an African queen, only to find out that she actually is. "It was one of the very first books where black characters are simply being people and living; it's not a problem book about integration," Hamilton said. As a result, Zeely attracted considerable attention. This was, after all, the era of racial strife across the country, mixed with a rising credo of "black is beautiful." The time was right, and besides, editors at the MacMillan publishing house were suitably impressed by the short story from which the book evolved; Hamilton had been lucky enough to have a college friend working at MacMillan and pushing from the inside for the editors to pay Hamilton attention.
Not satisfied to rest on her laurels. Hamilton quickly turned out her next book, The House of Dies Drear, in 1968. Dies Drear received the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best juvenile mystery of the year. It was rich with the historical research that would underline many of her subsequent works. And it harked back to the stories of liberation Hamilton grew up with in Yellow Springs, located just 60 miles north of the Ohio River; the legendary boundary between "slave" states and free. Hamilton’s book told of a modern family that leases an old house that has been a "station" on the Underground Railroad and, besides being the scene of the deaths of its owner, Dies Drear, and two slaves, holds an incredible secret as well. Published just a little over a century after abolition, the book delighted young readers, much as those old stories and secret passages had delighted the young author.
"Basically," Louann Toth, book review editor for School Library Journal, said in an interview, "Hamilton is a marvelous storyteller; and so she brings that sense of narrative and just a wonderful sense of language to everything she does. "Many of her novels have many levels, but first and foremost they are good stories," Toth continued. "Several of her books have boys as main characters and she seems to be able to get into a boy’s head as easily as a young girl’s. And I think that's really a special talent."
Hamilton followed her first two big successes with a long line of books covering different genres. The Planet of Junior Brown, in 1971, was a story of urban life in New York. Justice and Her Brothers (1978), together with Dustland (1980) and The Gathering (1980), comprised Hamilton’s "Justice Cycle." and were her tribute to the genre of science fiction; The Gathering, for example, was set on earth a million years in the future. Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush (1982) delved into the supernatural, introducing a ghost to usher the books characters into the past. "If you write well enough, you can get people to believe whatever you're thinking," Hamilton said in the interview, adding that she wrote the book to "put to rest" a childhood vision in which she believed she saw a ghost.
In 1985, Hamilton published an entirely different kind of book, The People Could Fly, a beautifully illustrated collection of true narrative and fantasy dating from slave times and encompassing tales ranging from "Bruh Rabbit" to a fantastical story of a slave who helps others escape by teaching them to rise into the air and fly away from their hot drudgery in the cotton fields Hamilton subsequently published two more books in this same genre: In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World (1988), and Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom. The latter retold the stories of such historical figures as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Frederick Douglas, as well as their lesser known contemporaries like Henry Box Brown, a slave who enclosed himself in a crate and mailed himself to freedom; and "Jackson," a slave who escaped north dressed as a maid.
"None of these stories was ever written for children," Hamilton said in the interview, commenting on The People Could Fly. "They were just told; so I redid them, brought them out of the musty old manuscripts where nobody ever saw them. And people went for it strongly."
En route, Hamilton began to include with these collections commentary on the tales -- who the collector was, who the teller was, whether the story was unique to African American literature or was an alternate version of a European story. "I go for the old manuscripts or out-of--print materials that are languishing in libraries," Hamilton added, noting that Central State University in Ohio near her home is one such resource, along with state folklore societies, and old 1930s Works Progress Administration (WPA) collections.
In 1995, Hamilton published Jagarundi, a picture book for young children, which offered a new slant on her liberation theme. An animal tale, Jagarundi was the tale of several little- known animals - among them a jagarundi or wild cat, a coati or type of raccoon, a kit fox, brush dog and capuchin monkey - all of which "discuss" among themselves the pros and cons of emigrating north from their home in the Central American rain forest, where their habitat is threatened by man, to an uncertain future in the southwestem United States. Hamilton calls her concern with the rain forest and other environmental troubles her "green theme": "I have a lot of books having to do with ecology," she said. " Drylongso (1992) is about drought, M.C. Higgins. the Great (1974) has a subtext about strip-mining. I grew up in this area where land and the importance of saving it is so very important."
When she went to work on Jagarundi, influenced by having seen a jagarundi in captivity in Arizona, Hamilton said, she never dreamed she'd discover another connection to matters close to her heart. "The story parallels humans who escape their homelands in search of better, safer lands," the author told the Tenth Annual Virginia Hamilton Conference, in 1994. "I was astounded to discover the added bonus, with the animals, of a classic symbolism of fleeing North - crossing the Great River (the Rio Grande) into a Promised Land."
Asked what she is trying to accomplish with each book, Hamilton -- who recently published two new books, Her Stories, African American Folktales. Fairy Tales, and True Tales (1995) and When Birds Could Talk and Bats Could Sing (1996)-- flatly rejected the notion. "That's not how you write a book," she said. "You're not trying to accomplish’ anything, but tell a good story, and my books are full of good stories."
These are stories that her readers, aged "8 to 80," depending on their reading level and interest, can identify with. Young teenagers are particularly apt to enjoy Plain City (1993), a book in which Hamilton takes up the issues of homelessness and racial prejudice. Twelve year -old protagonist Buhlaire Sims is growing up in a small Midwest city and feeling like an outsider because of her rasta hair twists and honey— colored hair, which itself reflects an element of "vanilla" in her lineage. Buhlaire, who wants more than anything to know who she is, has always believed her father died in the Vietnam war. But one day, an adult points out that the timing of her birth makes this impossible; her father may still be alive. This revelation sends Buhlaire on a journey of discovery -- a journey that only begins when she finds her father living sadly and sordidly beneath a highway bridge, a homeless, mentally ill vagrant. En route, Buhlaire makes peace with her nightclub singer-mother who is never home, her aunts and uncles who hover but rarely connect and a strange boy in school who shadows her every move.
"I was really interested in this winter tale," Hamilton said, "in having the reader feel the cold and know what it was like and what this kid who was always moving was like, and what that meant. She was restless, she was hunting something, she was always out on the landscape, and I wanted to put her in nature."
If Buhlaire is on a journey, so is her creator, whether she’s writing about contemporary teenagers, animals in the rain forest, or slavery times. "I make choices about whom to portray, in writing books of history and liberation," Hamilton said in her acceptance speech for the 1988 Boston Globe/Horn Book award. "Liberation literature not only frees the subject of record and evidence but the witness as well, who is also the reader, who then becomes part of the struggle. We take our position then, rightly, as participants alongside the victim. We become emotionally involved in his problem; we suffer; and we triumph, as the victim triumphs, in the solution of liberation."
In the interview, Hamilton added: "What happens when you tell a story and you're African American is everything you say or do somehow becomes symbolic as something else -- you don't have to try to say something because it's there, it's in your life, its in your history. I'm strongly plot-oriented, I try to represent original ideas -- and good stories."
- http://www.virginiahamilton.com/
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Other Books by Virginia Hamilton
The All Jahdu Story Book
Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave
Arilla Sun Down
The Bells of Christmas
Cousins
The Dark Way
Drylongso
Dustland
The Gathering
Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales
Jaguarundi
Junius Over Far
Justice And Her Brothers
A Little Love
The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl
Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom
M.C. Higgins. the Great
The Mystery of Drear House
Paul Robeson: The Life & Times of a Free Black Man
The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales
Plain City
The Planet of Junior Brown
A Ring of Tricksters
Second Cousins
Sweet Whispers. Brother Rush
W.E.B. Du Bois
When Birds Could Talk & Bats Could Sing
A White Romance
Willie Bea and the Time the Martians Landed
Zeely
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LANGUAGE ARTS SKILLS

Listening
Listening to pre-lesson informational videos.
Listening to group presentations from pre-lessons.
Listening to teacher Shared Reading first chapter from each section.
Listening to passages to identify setting/mood.
Listening to and participating in group discussion each Friday. (...or final day of each section)

Speaking
"Speaking with Purpose" (to inform) during group presentations for pre-lessons. Participation in group discussion each Friday (...or final day of each section).

Reading
Use of reference materials for pre-lessons
Teacher-modeled Shared Reading, one chapter per week.
Independent reading 2 - 3 chapters per week (35-plus pages).
Analyzing figures of speech.
Interpreting time, place, and mood in a given passage.
Interpreting author’s attitude, purpose.
Vocabulary development through context of novel.

Writing
Note writing from reference materials for pre-lessons.
Writing to prepare for oral discussion of weekly questions.
Writing a response (paragraph or more) to a higher-level thinking question/prompt.
Emphasis on descriptive writing: guided lesson each week.
Culminating narrative short story emphasizing descriptive writing.
- drafting, responding with peers, revising, editing, publishing
- publish students’ anthology of short stories

Cross-Curricular Concepts/Skills

History: Slavery, the Abolitionist Movement, Underground Railroad, and Civil War
Art: Sketching (houses), Color (to infer mood)
Music: Negro spirituals, gospel, calypso, and the evolution of music in America
The House of Dies Drear
table of contents

Teacher Plan 1
Building Background Knowledge
(3-4 days)

Divide students into "Expert Groups’ to research any of the following topics for oral presentations. This will give background to the historical topics presented in the novel.

Underground Railroad
Harriet Tubman
The Civil War
Abolitionist Movement
Famous Abolitionists:
John Brown, Frederick Douglass, James Forten, William Lloyd Garrison, The
Grimke Sisters, The Lovejoy Family, Lucretia Mott. Robert Purvis, Harriet
Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, etc.
Emancipation Proclamation
13th Amendment
African American Spirituals and Gospel music
Fugitive Slave Laws
Segregation, "Jim Crow" Laws
Superstitions

Students research and prepare oral presentations. Expert Groups share their knowledge on the designated day.
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The House of Dies Drear

Teacher Plan 2
Chapters 1 - 4; pages 1 - 52

Day 1: Teacher read aloud Chapter 1, discussing literary features as noted:
ALLITERATION: p.1
"... familiar forest, following a timeworn path of the Tuscaroras. The trail seemed the same as he had known it all his life. The way he walked it, without making any sound...
SIMILE: p.1
"...needles were as large as railroad spikes."
Also FORESHADOWING to Underground Railroad connection
PERSONIFICATION: p.1
"The odor nearly choked him."
FORESHADOWING:
p.2: Dream of man in trees
p.3:".. somebody I should know. I can’t place him right now."
SUPERSTITION: p.5
"...roasting chicory was the best power to ward off calamity."
HISTORICAL FACTS: p.12
  • Elijah Anderson - "Superintendent" of Underground Railroad
  • In 7 years, 1,000 slaves died in Kentucky
  • 40,000 slaves escaped to the North through Ohio
REFERENCES TO OLD TESTAMENT: p.12
FORESHADOWING: p.12
"If the new house is haunted, he thought, the twins will tell me."’

Students complete reading Chapters 2 - 4 independently, in pairs, or small groups with teacher, if necessary

Day 2: Students work on vocabulary activity:
Students locate "new" vocabulary words and their sentences. Students are to rewrite the sentences using synonyms, or appropriate phrasing which denotes the proper meanings (minimum 8 = C, 9 = B, 10 = A).

Day 3:
Teacher-directed lesson on descriptive writing.

Day 4: Students prepare questions (keyed to Bloom’s Taxonomy) for Day 5 discussion; complete vocabulary activity; previous day’s writing assignment, if necessary.

Day 5: Class discussion guided by (but not dictated by) questions given to students on their contract.

The House of Dies Drear
Student Contract
Section 1
Chapters 1 — 4
pages 1 - 52

Read Chapters 1 - 4

Complete Vocabulary Activity:
Locate "new" vocabulary words and their sentences. You are to rewrite the sentence using synonyms, or appropriate phrasing which denotes the proper meanings (minimum 8 = C, 9 = B, 10 = A).

Turn in work as requested for directed writing lesson.

Write your answers to the following questions. Be prepared to discuss your answers during the discussion at the end of this section. You will be asked to provide evidence to support your opinions.
1. What historical facts did you find in this section?
2. How did each member of the Small family feel about moving to Ohio?
3. Make up a dream that Mrs. Small might have had in the car.
4. Why do you think Thomas had his scary dream?
5. Draw a floor plan of how you think the Drear House is laid out. Show the tunnel that Thomas discovered.
6. How do you feel about Mr. Pluto? What kind of person do you feel he is?

BONUS:
Write a description of your ideal house.
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The House of Dies Drear

Teacher Plan 3
Chapters 5 - 8; pages 53 - 93

Day 1: Teacher read aloud Chapter 5, discussing literary features as noted:
SIMILE: p.55
"began to shape the air, to carve it as though it were a pretty piece of pine." Also ALLITERATION.
PERSONIFICATION: p.62
"Darkness had a way of falling down on you around here."
METAPHOR/SIMILE: p.62 - 63
"Their wings were blue and silver sails, like pinwheels.
SIMILE: p.63
"Thomas would walk from the pines to home with the night coming like
liquid behind him."
PERSONIFICATION: p.63
"But he was unsure of the night that could trap him."

Students complete reading Chapters 6 - 8 independently, in pairs, or small groups with teacher, if necessary

Day 2: Students work on vocabulary activity:
Students find "new" vocabulary words and their sentences. Students are to rewrite the sentences using synonyms, or appropriate phrasing which denotes the proper meanings (minimum 8 = C, 9 = B, 10 = A).

Day 3: Teacher-directed lesson on descriptive writing.

Day 4: Students prepare questions (keyed to Bloom’s Taxonomy) for Day 5 discussion; complete vocabulary activity; previous day’s writing assignment, if necessary.

Day 5: Class discussion guided by (but not dictated by) questions given to students on their contract.
The House of Dies Drear
Student Contract

Section 2
Chapters 5 — B
pages 53 — 93

Read Chapters 5 - 8

Complete Vocabulary Activity:
Locate "new" vocabulary words and their sentences. You are to rewrite the sentence using synonyms, or appropriate phrasing which denotes the proper meanings (minimum 8 = C, 9 = B, 10 = A).

Turn in work as requested for directed writing lesson.

Write your answers to the following questions. Be prepared to discuss your answers during the discussion at the end of this section. You will be asked to provide evidence to support your opinions.
1. List the words in this section that refer to color.
2. Why did Thomas sleep downstairs the first night in his new house?
3. Prepare an interview with Mr. Pluto. What questions would you ask him?
4. Why was Mr. Small suspicious of Thomas’s story about Mac and Pesty?
5. Create a new song about Mrs. Small to the melody of "Mary Had a Little Lamb."
6. Why, if they had met before, would Mr. Pluto not make eye contact with Mr. Small when they met in the kitchen?

BONUS:
You have the power and the money to remodel the Drear House. What will you do?
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The House of Dies Drear
Teacher Plan 4
Chapters 9 - 12; pages 94 - 151

Day 1: Teacher read aloud Chapter 5, discussing literary features as noted:
DIAGRAMS: p.98, 101
Why does the author use them?
HISTORICAL FACTS: p~ 100
Discuss Greek Cross, the North Star, songs, etc. as tools the escaping slaves used to find their way north.
SARCASM: p.106
"Preacher likes the sound of his own voice."

Students complete reading Chapters 10 - 12 independently, in pairs, or small groups with teacher, if necessary

Day 2: Students work on vocabulary activity:
Students find "new" vocabulary words and their sentences. Students are to rewrite the sentences using synonyms, or appropriate phrasing which denotes the proper meanings (minimum 8 = C, 9 = B, 10 = A).

Day 3: Teacher-directed lesson on descriptive writing.

Day 4: Students prepare questions (keyed to Bloom’s Taxonomy) for Day 5 discussion; complete vocabulary activity; previous day’s writing assignment, if necessary.

Day 5: Class discussion guided by (but not dictated by) questions given to students on their contract.
The House of Dies Drear
Student Contract

Section 3
Chapters 9 — 12
pages 94 - 151
Read Chapters 5 - 8

Complete Vocabulary Activity:
Locate new vocabulary words and their sentences. You are to rewrite the sentence using synonyms, or appropriate phrasing which denotes the proper meanings (minimum 8 = C, 9 = B, 10 = A).
Turn in work as requested for directed writing lesson.

Write your answers to the following questions. Be prepared to discuss your answers during the discussion at the end of this section. You will be asked to provide evidence to support your opinions.
1. Describe Mr. Pluto’s appearance when the Smalls located him on his way to church.
2. Explain why Thomas was so excited about going to church.
3. Compare and contrast Mr. Pluto’s appearance on the way to church, at church, and the night before, in the Smalls’ kitchen.
4. Examine Chapter 10. Identify the various ways the church congregation "welcomed" the Smalls.
5. Create some sign, other than a square or Greek Cross which can be made from the four triangles.
6. Why is Thomas so upset about the segregated churches?

BONUS:

How would you feel if you were one of the Drear tunnels? Write a descriptive story from a secret passage point of view.
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The House of Dies Drear
Teacher Plan 5
Chapters 13 - 16; pages 152 - 199
Day 1: Teacher read aloud Chapter 5, discussing literary features as noted:
SIMILE: p.155
"In the midst of it all, pacing back and forth like a falcon tired of his perch, was Mr. Pluto."
SIMILE: p.156
"Like fluid poring itself away, he was gone....

Students complete reading Chapters 14 - 16 independently, in pairs, or small groups with teacher, if necessary

Day 2: Students work on vocabulary activity:
Students find "new" vocabulary words and their sentences. Students are to rewrite the sentences using synonyms, or appropriate phrasing which denotes the proper meanings (minimum 8 = C, 9 = B, 10 = A).

Day 3: Teacher-directed lesson on descriptive writing:

CHANGING PASSAGES TO CONVEY MOOD:

Teacher will choose several passages from Dies Drear and/or other works which are exceptionally descriptive. Passages should be written on poster paper, overhead transparency, or photocopied so that each student can easily see and the passages. (If they are passages from Dies Drear, the students will have their books to refer to)
Students will adjust the words that are used in the passages to give the feeling of a different mood. For example:
"Thomas looked carefully out of his window. He opened the car door for a few seconds to see better, but found the moist air too warm and soft, The feel of it was not nice at all, and he quickly closed the door. He could see well enough out of the window, and what he saw made everything inside him grow quiet for the first time in weeks. It was more than he could have dreamed."
This passage sounds gloomy, and a bit scary. With some word changes, it could be made to sound like a beautiful scene, with Thomas extremely pleased to be there.

Day 4: Students prepare questions (keyed to Bloom’s Taxonomy) for Day 5 discussion, complete vocabulary activity, previous day’s writing assignment, if necessary.

Day 5: Class discussion guided by (but not dictated by) questions given to students on their contract.
The House of Dies Drear
Student Contract

Section 4
Chapters 13 - 16
pages 152 - 199

Read Chapters 13 - 16

Complete Vocabulary Activity:
Locate "new" vocabulary words and their sentences. You are to rewrite the sentence using synonyms, or appropriate phrasing which denotes the proper meanings (minimum 8 = C, 9 = B, 10 = A).

Turn in work as requested for directed writing lesson.

Write your answers to the following questions. Be prepared to discuss your answers during the discussion at the end of this section. You will be asked to provide evidence to support your opinions.
1. Describe the inside of Mr. Pluto’s house.
2. Explain why the cavern was the ideal place to store Mr. Drear’s furnishings.
3. Construct a plan to "get back" at the Darrows.
4. Simplify Mr. Pluto’s problems with the Darrows. Explain.
5. Write a poem showing Mayhew’s feelings about his father.
6. Justify the Smalls helping Mr. Pluto and Mayhew scare the Darrows.
BONUS:
Suppose the South had won the Civil War. How would the United States be different today?
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The House of Dies Drear

Teacher Plan 6
Chapters 17 - 19; pages 200 - 246

Day 1: Teacher read aloud Chapter 5, discussing literary features as noted:
SIMILE: p.200
"His great black cloak fell around him like a shroud.
HISTORICAL FACT: p.206 - 208
The Greek Cross: how runaways used it to reach the North.

Students complete reading Chapters 18, 19 independently, in pairs, or small groups with teacher, if necessary

Day 2: Students work on vocabulary activity:
Students find "new" vocabulary words and their sentences. Students are to rewrite the sentences using synonyms, or appropriate phrasing which denotes the proper meanings (minimum 8 = C, 9 = B, 10 = A).

Day 3: Teacher-directed lesson on descriptive writing:

SENTENCE STRETCHING:
Students work in cooperative teams to add adjectives and other modifiers to make simple sentences more interesting. For example, "The dog ran" is much more interesting when written:
"The shaggy dog with the pink collar ran quickly home to eat his supper."
Hopefully, some teams can come up with some really entertaining sentences! Teams can share their sentences and earn "points" for having sentences that the class votes as the best.

Day 4: Students prepare questions (keyed to Bloom’s Taxonomy) for Day 5 discussion; complete vocabulary activity; previous day’s writing assignment, if necessary.

Day 5: Class discussion guided by (but not dictated by) questions given to students on their contract.
The House of Dies Drear
Student Contract

Section 5
Chapters 17 - 19
pages 200 - 246

Read Chapters 17 - 19

Complete Vocabulary Activity:
Locate "new" vocabulary words and their sentences. You are to rewrite the sentence using synonyms, or appropriate phrasing which denotes the proper meanings (minimum 8 = C, 9 = B, 10 = A).

Turn in work as requested for directed writing lesson.

Write your answers to the following questions. Be prepared to discuss your answers during the discussion at the end of this section. You will be asked to provide evidence to support your opinions.
1. Outline the procedure for reading a Greek Cross
2. Explain the relationship between Mr. Pluto and River Swift Darrow.
3. Propose another method for solving the trouble between the Darrows and the Skinners.
4. Search for incidences of Thomas’s imagination. List them.
5. Develop a plan for the Darrows, Smalls, and Skinners to meet under good circumstances.
6. Rate this novel on a scale of 1 - 10. Explain your answer and reasoning in detail.
BONUS:
Make a list of all of the things that are made more beautiful by time.
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The House of Dies Drear
Teacher Plan 7
Beyond the Literature

Teacher will guide the writing process so that each student will write a descriptive short story. Students should incorporate the ideas that they learned in the previous weeks’ lessons on descriptive writing (Using a thesaurus, choosing THE BEST word for a situation, using words that show the mood and theme of the story, making interesting sentences, etc.)

PREWRITING:
Students should choose a mood that they want their readers to experience as they read their story. The plot, characters, setting, and so on, can be developed and worked into the mood once it is established. Some moods might be joy, sadness, anger, fear, confusion, anticipation, etc.
Students should cluster or brainstorm ideas, words, and phrases which come to mind when they think of this "mood". This brainstorm can be used to generate ideas for the story.

DRAFTING:
Students work to write an initial draft, concentrating on a full, DESCRIPTIVE story.

RESPONDING:
Students share their stories in small groups or partners to receive feedback and suggestions (NOT CRITICISM!). Other students can give suggestions about parts that are unclear, unnecessary, could use some more descriptive, or maybe some other ideas to add to the plot. The writer is under no obligation to use these suggestions, but may use any or all of his or her Response Group’s helpful ideas.

EDITING:
Students work to perfect their stories grammatically. Checking that each sentence makes sense, that all capitals are in place, that all punctuation and spelling as correct, and that it is written neatly. Students may wish to have a peer edit their work as well.

PUBLISHING:
Student work can be bound in a classroom book, or reproduced so that each student can have a copy of this book of stories. If facilities and time permits, the teacher may wish to have the students type (and save!) their stories on a word processing program. A student should be selected to design a cover, and the class should select a title for the anthology.
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The House of Dies Drear
Additional Activities

These additional activities seem to lend themselves particularly well to this novel. They may be used as additional "Beyond" activities, or other products along the way.

One lesson in the "Draw Man" art lesson video tapes has to do with how to draw "spooky houses"!

Supplementary "FYI" Sheets taken from McDougal Littell Literature Connections series.

Some other critical thinking/writing activities:

Badt, Karin. The Underground Railroad: A Three-Act Play. Erie, PA: Discovery Enterprises, Ltd., 1995. (This play, which features 14 speaking roles and a chorus, explores the escape of four slaves from Virginia).

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