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The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton - - Grade 5 AWC Fiction

Key Question: In what ways do you think the uncovering of the mysteries of the old house of Dies Drear helped Thomas understand his link to that past?

Directions: In an essay of at least five paragraphs, write a response to this question expressing your opinion using a minimum of three cited examples from the text. You should include a gripping lead sentence and the background information necessary for the reader to understand the context and provide a conclusion that summarizes the evidence and supports the answer. The conclusion should offer new insight and demonstrate an understanding of the evidence.

Other Important Questions

Performance Tasks

Students will . . .

1. How will the action film footage that begins the video version of The House of Dies Drear (Wonderworks) tie in to the mystery in the story?

1. After viewing the beginning sequence of the video version of The House of Dies Drear, predict what is happening and how this might relate to a mystery in the story.

2. How does Virginia Hamilton use her personal and family life experiences as she created the characters, setting, and plot of The House of Dies Drear ?

2. Read "Background Information About Virginia Hamilton." As you read The House of Dies Drear, complete a chart citing text references from "Background Information About Virginia Hamilton" and text evidence in The House of Dies Drear. Sources: http://virginiahamilton.com/pages/biostuff.htm

3. How does Virginia Hamilton show her grasp of descriptive writing in her use of alliterations, similes, personification, foreshadowing, superstition, and historical fact?

3. As you read the book, complete the chart of these categories citing page references and text from the book.

4. What character traits does Thomas possess that reveal themselves through the text?

4. As Thomasí character responds to events, situations, people, and environments in the story, what character traits are revealed? Complete the "How Thomasí Character Responds to Story Events" chart as you read the book.

5. Using a map of the Underground Railroad routes, how would you explain how ancestors of fugitive slaves now living in various states can trace their heritage back to a southern state?

5a. Place the Underground Railroad routes on a United States map. Resources: - http://education.ucdavis.edu/NEW/STC/lesson/socstud/railroad/images/map16.gif and http://education.ucdavis.edu/NEW/STC/lesson/socstud/railroad/Map.htm

5b. Explain how a fugitive slave would make use of the north, south, east, and west routes.

Extension: Create a slave narrative - See student slave narratives at: http://inquiryunlimited.org/x1/etoc/abol/slavenarr.html

6. Who is Pluto?

6. As you read, gather data about Plutoís physical and personality traits. Create a chart referencing page numbers.

7. What is different about the face of Pluto to Pesty and to Thomas?

7a. And 7b. Describe Pluto from the point of view of both characters. (first person)

8. How did Virginia Hamilton create a mood of mystery?

8. Using page numbers, collect phrases that are haunting and mysterious.

9. What is the mystery of Dies Dreadís house and property?

9. Complete a mystery map or chart, citing page references that includes the following categories. What is the mystery? What are your clues? What do you predict will happen? Who is involved?

How would you describe them? What are their motives? How will this mystery end?

10. How would you describe the house?

10. Using facts from the text, draw a floor plan to illustrate the house with accurate details. Include inside and outside the house. Show the tunnel that Thomas discovered.

11. What influence did Pluto have on Thomas?

11. Data gather and complete a cause and effect chart as you read the book.

12. Why did Thomas think his father moved the family to Ohio?

12. Write a series of three letters (beginning, middle, and end) from Thomas to his Grandmother explaining how he feels about the move.

13. How would you feel if you were moving and you were Thomas?

13. Keep a diary as Thomas. Write paragraphs expressing your feelings after chapters 3, 7, 10, 12, 15, 17, and 19.

14. How were the parenting skills of Mr. Pluto (with Mayhem) and Mr. Small (with Thomas) so different?

14. Create a "How Not To Raise A Child" list for Mr. Pluto and a "How To Raise A Child" list for Mr. Small.

15. Virginia Hamilton left out the chapter titles! Help her out by creating relevant titles for her.

15. Create the "House of Dies Drear Chapter Map" filling in an original title and providing a summary for each chapter. [ print a copy]


As of December 4, 2003, you are visitor to work on this The House of Dies Drear activity sheet.

Last modified: January 27, 2008.

Extension theme: Abolitionism | Student Slave Narratives | Timelines Index

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