Dewey Decimal System Puzzle Game and Library Lesson

Grade Levels
K - 2nd
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
10 easy puzzles
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This set of 10 easy puzzles is perfect to use as a library center when introducing the Dewey Decimal System to your K-2 students. Many of us compare the Dewey Decimal classification categories to "neighborhoods" when we first begin to explain the types of books that can be found among the nonfiction shelves. As we teach about categories, spine labels, and call numbers, this puzzle set is a perfect follow-up activity during book exchange.

(WARNING... We play a lot of silly, make-believe games in my library!☺)

⭐I use these puzzles after reading the book Do You Know Dewey? by Brian Cleary. As I’m reading, my class and I take a little walking tour around our library. The first time around, I show them how to count the Dewey categories by 100s, pointing to my everyday library signage for help.

⭐Then, we make a second pass, stopping to find the Dewey signs again -- and to read a page or two from the book as we explore each category. (This takes us more than one week... short attention spans and all that!)

⭐All around the library “neighborhood” we go — finally looking for the books’ “addresses” on their spine labels. Like many of you, I talk with the kids about their own house or apartment numbers to help them make that important connection to library shelf order. 

⭐Finally, we divide up and take a peek on each shelf to make sure that the first digit in every “call number” on every “spine label” matches its Dewey category. I'm serious... you can get several library time lessons out of this one book!

⭐Because I use the example of a big Dewey neighborhood, I lead my students to pretend that a checked out book has just been “outside playing.” We make a big deal out of it "coming home" to the library.

⭐I tell them, "When the book is returned to the library, that means it’s time for the book to go home." So. the students and I pretend it's getting dark outside. As in -- "Oh my... the porch light and street lights will be coming on soon! It's time to return home!" You get the idea.

⭐So... as we continue our game of pretend... the checked-in book’s parent (the Dewey category) “calls out” how glad he or she is that the little book has finally returned home!

⭐As in, “Oh, little 398.2! We're so glad you're back! We missed you! Come on over here to the 300s where you belong — it’s time for dinner. Come home now, dear! Get in your spot!”

⭐(And that’s where the term “call number” comes from… to the littles in MY library at least!) Yes…it’s VERY cheesy, I know, I know… but they’re 5 and 6 years old… and they remember it!

⭐They make the connection between spine labels, call numbers, and the shelves... and for some reason... it sticks!


✅Once we get through the 900s... it's time for my youngest students’ first independent check out among the Dewey shelves,

✅(I have two sections of nonfiction -- the littles browse in the "easy" nonfiction. (We call that area the "green sticker Deweys." I like to limit the number of browsers that are roaming at one time, so I put the students in small groups and let them work on some very simple center tasks. One of those simple tasks is matching up these Dewey puzzles.

✅The task occupies their little hands while they’re waiting for a turn to browse — and it reinforces what I’ve been teaching them about our Dewey “neighborhoods,” call numbers, and spine labels.

✅I purposely made the puzzles VERY easy to figure out because I know I’ll be busy helping the other students find and check out books. The place where the puzzle is cut through the middle makes them self-checking.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐My kiddos loved playing this game. They didn't even realize that they were learning!!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐My little ones love this resource! Easy to use and fun!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Just what I needed for the littles; thank you!

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Total Pages
10 easy puzzles
Answer Key
Does not apply
Teaching Duration
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