Games to Teach the Dewey Decimal System

Show students how call numbers can help them find books.

Tired of your students telling you they can't find books for their reports in the library? If so, they might be ready for a refresher or even a first lesson on the Dewey Decimal System. However, a lecture on Melvil Dewey's library organization system and its 10 major divisions can be quite boring. Instead, excite your students about using the library through Dewey Decimal games.

1 Race for the Book

If you have students who like to get moving, get permission from your library have this version of an academic relay. Divide students into two or more teams, and give them them each the call number of a book. The students must each find their book, bring it to the next person in line and verify it is the right book before the next student can go find his own book based on the call number. The more students are familiar with the Dewey Decimal System and their libraries, the better they will perform. At the end of the game, explain that students should follow the same procedures when getting books for their reports -- they simply get the call numbers from the card catalog or computer instead of the teacher. But before you play, remind students that they may walk quickly but they may not run.

2 Remixed Jeopardy

The Dewey Decimal System arranges books into 10 divisions that range from 000, general information, to 900, Georgraphy and History. Set up a Jeopardy-style game board with at least five categories and at least 10 questions for each category. Instead of putting those questions behind value amounts, put them behind divisions in the Dewey Decimal System. Explain the unique board, and have the students play. Students who know the decimal system well will do best because they will know that choosing "Puns for 200," for example, will get them a question about religion not mathematics. To allow for questions from each divison, your cateogires must be rather broad. Good categories include things like famous books, international figures, questions on freshman exams and weird facts.

3 Create Your Own Library

Have students practice the Dewey Decimal system by having them create their own library out of a stack of at least 15 books you bring in for a group of two or three. Have students categorize and organize the books using the Dewey Decmial System. Students should organize the books by major and minor division. After the students have had enough time to complete the activity, ask them to explain their results. The students with the organization that is most logical under Dewey win.

4 Online Games

As more students grow up using the computer for everything from games to staying in touch with their friends, more find the computer a preferred place to do their learning. Online games about the Dewey Decimal System combine students' love for games with their love for technology, allowing them to learn in an enjoyable environment. There are websites that offer free games that teach the Dewey Decimal System. These include Quia's matching and concentration games and Study Stack's Dewey hangman and crossword puzzle.

Miranda Morley is an educator, business consultant and owner of a copywriting/social-media management company. Her work has been featured in the "Boston Literary Magazine," "Subversify Magazine" and "American Builder's Quarterly." Morley has a B.A. in English, political science and international relations. She is completing her M.A. in rhetoric and composition from Purdue University Calumet.