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Treasure Hunt in the Library: Searching the OPAC
Content Topic:
Information Literacy
This lesson is designed to teach 3rd grade students how to use the OPAC, using title, author, subject and keyword searches. Students will also discuss reasons why they may want to search the OPAC. Pairs of students will participate in a treasure hunt activity, using clues and the OPAC to locate specific materials within the LMC.
Total Estimated Time:
45 minutes
Suggested Number Of Sessions:


One computer with access to OPAC for each group of 2 students

60 pre-written clues - 11 sets of 5 clues + extra for students who finish early (See SM1_TreasureHunt)





Golden Bookmarks (See SM2_TreasureHunt)

Pirate costume props (optional)

Instruction / Activities:

Direct Instruction:

  • Students arrive in media center to find TL wearing a pirate hat, a patch on one eye, large hoop earrings, and a parrot attached to one shoulder.  TL says, “Ahoy thar mateys!  I be lookin’ for some lost treasure… and I hope ya can help me find it!  I know that it’s somewhere in this house of books.  Would ya be willin’ to join an old pirate on a treasure hunt?”  (Students agree.)
  • TL and students then discuss situations/reasons why students may want to find a specific book in the  instead of just browsing the shelves (e.g. forgot author’s name and would like to find another book by same author; would like to find more books on a particular subject for personal interest or research project).  TL helps students make the connection that the books in the library are treasures, waiting to be found. 
  • TL explains how one can use ‘clues’ such as title, author, subject and keyword to help locate books in the OPAC, which will tell you the location of the book within the library.  (5 minutes)


Modeling and Guided Practice:

  • TL uses the SMART Board to demonstrate to students how to search the OPAC by typing in known information (title, author, or subject) and choosing what kind of search to perform. 
  • TL explains how to read the OPAC record, pointing out where title, author, call number, availability, and subject information can be found within the record.  Students will follow along on their own computers to complete a search with the whole class. 
  • TL briefly reviews organization of the media center: non-fiction organized by DDC, fiction organized alphabetically by author’s last names. (10 minutes)


Independent Practice:

·         Students will work in pairs to find specific books, using the OPAC and clues provided by the TL (See SM1_TreasureHunt).

  •  An example of a clue is:  “Find the book written by Rosie McCormick that is about rain forest conservation.”  Students should do an author search for “McCormack, Rosie” or “Rosie McCormick”.  They will find 2 results, one book about ‘homes’ and one book about ‘rain forests’.  They will note the call number for the rain forest book, locate it on the shelf, and retrieve their next clue which will be located inside the front cover. 
  • Students are expected to find 5 books, using the clues they find in the books they locate correctly.  Some clues will be more difficult, requiring students to use 2 pieces of information in one keyword search (author AND subject), or perform 2 separate searches to locate the next book described in the clue.  These searches will require students to think about what important information they already have and what information they still need in order to locate the book.  For example:  “Find the book about a ‘concert’ that was written by the same author that wrote The Report Card.
  • TL helps students with any clues they may have trouble with; and discusses search strategies with groups that get ‘stuck’. 

Inside the 5th correctly located book, students will find their ‘treasure’ – a golden bookmark with “I found the treasure in the library!” written on one side, and tips for searching the OPAC on the other side. (See SM2_TreasureHunt)

  • Students that complete the required 5 searches ahead of time will be given more difficult clues to solve while waiting for the rest of the class to finish. (20 minutes)


Sharing and Reflecting:

  • When all students have found their treasure, the TL will review the lesson, asking students to share their search techniques, and any problems they encountered during the treasure hunt. 
  • If time allows, have students come up with a ‘clue’ or two, to see if the rest of the class can find the book they are thinking of. (10 minutes)
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Presented By: Susanne Bang
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