Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The House that Dies Drear Built

Janice Wilkins
Santa Rosa District Schools


Virginia Hamilton is a master of descriptive language. Create a descriptive paragraph describing the landscape around your house.


The student focuses on a central idea or topic (for example, excluding loosely related, extraneous, or repetitious information).

The student demonstrates a command of the language (including but not limited to precise word choice, appropriate figurative language).

The student uses creative writing strategies appropriate to the format (for example, using appropriate voice; using descriptive language to clarify ideas and create vivid images; using elements of style, such as appropriate tone).


-Novel - THE HOUSE OF DIES DREAR, Virginia Hamilton, McDougal Littell, Inc., 1997
-Notebook Paper
-Blue or Black Ink Pen


1. Complete reading of the novel, THE HOUSE OF DIES DREAR.
2. Print out one copy of scoring rubrics for ideas and conventions. (


1. Review the first two pages of Chapter Three (pages 23-26). Discuss the use of descriptive language on these pages by citing specific examples. -The house of Dies Drear loomed out of mist and murky sky, not only gray and formless, but huge and unnatural- (23).

2. After sharing specific examples, students reread these pages again paying attention to how the senses are evoked by the descriptive language. Students focus on the writing trait of ideas as they discuss these examples. The ideas trait will have been previously taught and practiced.

3. Students describe the landscape around their house trying to evoke the readersí senses; seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting. Students first complete a rough draft on notebook paper using paragraph form.

4. Teacher shows a sample of the Scoring Rubric on the overhead and discusses with students the procedures and criteria for scoring their paragraphs on the writing traits of ideas and conventions.

5. Upon completion of paragraphs, students exchange papers with a partner and score each otherís using the Rubric. Students conference and share editing and revising ideas.

6. Students then revise their paragraphs using their partner's feedback.

7. The teacher assesses students' writing using -Six Traits of Writing- scoring rubrics for ideas and conventions. (see website: www.


The teacher assesses the student's writing. The teacher uses the rubric for scoring ideas and conventions. The rubrics are from Vicki Spandell's Six Traits of Writing. ( The rubrics can be printed from this website.


This activity could be adapted to other novels.

Web Links

Web supplement for The House that Dies Drear Built
Six Traits of Writing

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