House of Dies Drear

Topics: World War I, Abolitionism, American Civil War Pages: 16 (3932 words) Published: May 6, 2013
3rd – 5th Grade
Most of these are chapter books; you can read a chapter each week to the group or allow students to read on their own during a set time. We have planned 1 book every two weeks, if they finish ahead of time, when they have read all the books we can give more.

House of Dies Drear
The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton

A huge, old house with secret tunnels, a cantankerous caretaker, and buried treasure is a dream-come-true for 13-year-old Thomas. The fact that it's reputedly haunted only adds to its appeal! As soon as his family moves in, Thomas senses something strange about the Civil War era house, which used to be critical stop on the Underground Railroad. With the help of his father, he learns about the abolitionists and escaping slaves who kept the Underground Railroad running. While on his own, he explores the hidden passageways in and under the house, piecing clues together in an increasingly dangerous quest for the truth about the past. Newbery medalist Virginia Hamilton creates a heart-pounding adventure with this absorbing classic for older readers. (from

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

1. Before you started reading this book, what did you know about the Underground Railroad? What did you learn about it while reading? 2. Why does Thomas's father want so badly to live in the house of Dies Drear? How does the rest of the family feel about it? 3. What is the significance to Thomas's dream?

4. Describe Mr. Pluto. What is odd about him? Why is it so important to him to live independently? 5. How does history repeat itself when the Smalls move into the house? 6. What do you think motivates people to harass other people in the way the Darrows' are cruel to the Smalls? Do you think it is fair to teach these people a lesson? 7. In what ways are Thomas and his father alike?

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library. Send feedback to Katie O'Dell, Reading Promotions CoordinatorLesson adapted from Maxfield Elementary, Mrs. Traci Keith

This unit is designed to be technology-rich. The activities are designed to do before, during, and after reading the novel, The House of Dies Drear. The book itself could be read individually, aloud as a class, or in reading groups. Grading rubrics and self-evaluation forms are provided. Some or all of the following activities could be used.

Interview with Abolitionist
Lesson Title: Abolitionist Interview Activity
Unit: The House of Dies Drear
Summary (25-50 words):
In small groups students will research a famous abolitionist, such as Harriet Tubman. Students will generate a mock interview with the person and act it out.

• Research of a historical figure.
• Generation of a script that highlights a historical figure’s life. Content Standards:
TEKS: LA (6.13), (6.14), (6.18), (6.20), (6.24)

• Teacher generated rubric.
• Student Self-Evaluation Form.

• Computers with internet availability.
• Video camera.

Prior Knowledge/Skills:
Knowledge of Abolitionists and the Underground Railroad.

In small groups students research an abolitionist. Students should find basic information about their person, what they did to help the abolitionist movement, what their motivation to help was, and other interesting information. After doing research, students will write a script for a mock interview with the person that they have researched. Students will creatively stage the interview. Costumes could be used. They could set it up like a television talk show or news show with their historical figure as the guest. Interviews will be recorded with a video camera and shown to the entire class.

• Interviews could be done in front of the class.
• Research...
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