Dewey Decimal System Puzzle Game and Library Lesson

Grade Levels
K - 2nd
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This set of 10 easy puzzles is perfect to use when introducing the Dewey Decimal System to your K-2 students. Many of us compare the classification categories to "neighborhoods" when we first begin to explain the types of books that can be found among the nonfiction shelves.

Lesson Idea:

I use these puzzles after reading the book Do You Know Dewey? by Brian Cleary.  While I’m reading, we take a little walking tour around the library. The first time around, we just count the Dewey categories by 100s, pointing to the signage.

Then, we make a second pass, stopping to find Dewey signs and to read a page or two from the book as we explore each category. 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 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 category.

Because I use the example of a big Dewey neighborhood, we pretend that a checked out book has been “outside playing.” When it is returned to the library, that means it’s time for the book to go home. We pretend the book’s parent “calls out” how glad he or she is that the book has come home. As in, “Oh, little 398.2! Come home — over here to the 300s — it’s time for dinner. 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… but they’re 5 and 6 years old… so it works!

During Check Out Time

For my youngest students’ first check out among the Dewey shelves, 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, such as 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 just taught them about Dewey “neighborhoods,” call numbers, and spine labels. I purposely made them VERY easy to figure out because I’ll be busy helping the others find books. The puzzle cut through the middle makes them self-checking.

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