Fun With The Dewey Decimal System

Presented by: Penny Pitman

Subject Area(s):

Grade Level(s):


One can almost hear the collective groan when the Dewey Decimal System is mentioned. But teaching and learning the DDC can be fun! Students will enjoy identifying and then categorizing items from "real life" into Dewey categories.

Goals & Objectives:

Students will learn that the non-fiction section of the LMC is organized by subject. Students will learn that a librarian, Melvil Dewey, developed the DDC in 1876. Students will learn that the DDC has 10 categories.


Dewey bookmarks on cardstock bag with various items (Santa's hat, empty bottle of Tylenol, tennis ball, recorder, etc.) Dewey Decimal Practice Sheet


Remind students of fiction and non-fiction sections of the LMC. (fiction section- books organized by author's last name, letters on bookcases; non-fiction section- books organized by subject, numbers on bookcases)

Give each student a Dewey Bookmark and take a tour of the non-fiction section.

 Refer to "guide numbers" at top of bookcases and read titles from various sections (200's- Greek Myths and Legends, 400's- A First Book of Sign Language).

Return to seats and distribute Dewey Decimal Practice Sheet to pairs of students. Model activity by going over the example. Show and explain bag with items. Student pairs pull an item from the bag, determine Dewey category/number, and record on worksheet. Each pair shows item and identifies/explains Dewey number.

If time, pull remaining items from bag and ask students to identify the Dewey section. Ask students to write their name and favorite Dewey category on bookmark. Encourage students to select books from their favorite Dewey category during book selection.


Informal assessment:

How well students identified Dewey categories?

Can students name Melvil Dewey as the creator of the DDC?

Can students explain that non-fiction materials are organized by subject and put into one of 10 categories?


Anne Mlod, School Media Specialist

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