Emily Rozmus
Critical Thinking, Information, Media and Technological Literacy, Problem-Solving and Communication
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Lower Primary, Upper Primary
1, 2, 3
  • Categorizing Sorting Library Dewey Decimal System
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    Introduction to Library Organization - Categorizing and Sorting

    Introduction to Library Organization - Categorizing and Sorting


    Learning to categorize and sort objects and ideas is a key component to helping primary age students find and use materials in their library. When teaching students in grades 2-3 the Dewey Decimal System, consider this lesson which asks them to categorize recognizable objects into groups based on shared traits. Using concrete objects will help you bridge learning so that the more abstract concept of grouping books by similar topics is attainable for these learners. This lesson uses content from INFOhio's Educator Tools and ISearch.


    1. Ask students to find another person with the same color of eyes and stand by that person. Now, ask the pairs to find another pair that has the same color of eyes. Continue until you have two - three groups of students who are organnized by eye colors. Explain to students that objects can be put into categories. They are categorized by eye color. If time allows, try the activity again with a different category - birthday months, favorite superhero, etc. Or, have students suggest other categories they could use to group their class.

    2. Tell the students that they are going to learn more about how the library is organized and why it is important to have organization in the library:

    • Helps people find what they are looking for
    • Uses categories to organize
    • Separates and orgainizes different materials and what the materials are about 
      • Videos
      • Magazines
      • Books
        • True - nonfiction
        • Fiction

    Point out where different categories are in the library. Give a visual tour and pretend like this is the first time they have visited the library.

    3. Tell students you are going to play a game to practice putting objects into categories. Split class into 2-3 groups. Each group will take turns identifying the correct answer on the Quia: Rags to Riches Categories Ladder Interactive Website in the resources section of this lesson. Project the site on a screen. Ask students to read the clues, the possible answers, and decide as a team which answer is correct. If they get it wrong, the game starts again and that team will have one strike. After three strikes, a team is out. The team that gets to the top wins.

    4. Talk with students about how they decided which answer was the correct category. What similarities did each of the objects in the clue list have? 

    5, Next, ask students to find a partner to work with. Make a copy of the Three for Three PDF and distribute to each pair. Or, project the document to a screen and ask students to write their categories on their own paper.Give students time to sort the objects in the list into the categories provided. When they are done, talk about the results. Use the white board or post-it paper to record the answers students have. Again, share the similarities that helped the students idenitfy which category each object belongs in. 



    Next Steps

    Follow up with a book sort activitiy. Provide several books from different genres to students in groups of three. Model and think aloud with two -three books first, providing students with ways that the books can be categorized:

    • fiction - make believe or fantasy
    • nonfiction - true or real objects
    • topic (bugs, princesses, trucks)
    • types of illustrations

    Ask students to sort the books they have into three - four categories. Remind them that each book in the category has to have at least one thing in common. 

    When they are done, ask each group to show one of their cagegories and explain what the books have in common.