Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Dewey Decimal System -- Cataloging Collections
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for teachers is divided into four sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the lesson
Steps -- Conducting the lesson
Extensions -- Extending the lesson
Tips -- Managing resources and student activities



  • Personal book collections

  • Journals

  • Pencils

  • Books

  • Computers

    Computer Resources:

    You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:

    -- Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster
    -- Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above
    -- Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MBs of RAM
    -- IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MBs
        of RAM running Windows 3.1; or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least
       16 MBs of RAM, running Windows 95 or higher

    For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.


    Before you begin, bookmark the following sites:

  • The Central Library on Grand Army Plaza

    This is the major reference center in the 60-library Brooklyn Public Library System, which also includes the Business Library in Downtown Brooklyn and 58 libraries throughout the borough.

  • Connecting Your Library To The World

    Brooklyn Public Library's Online Public Access Catalog. Library holdings are in alphabetic order by location.

  • Dewey Decimal System

    This site includes a simple chart for kids showing the main categories of the Dewey Decimal System.

  • Internet Public Library

    This Web site uses the Dewey Decimal System to help students navigate the Internet in areas of their interest. The Dewey Decimal Collection is a guide to many fun and interesting resources on the Internet. You will notice that the Youth Collection is organized by the Dewey Decimal System -- just like your school or public library.

  • Middle Tennessee State University Library

    This site provides exercises in helping students understand the Dewey Decimal system.

  • Thompson-Nicola Regional District Library System

    Here is an example of the Dewey Decimal System.

  • Metropolitan Library System Serving Oakland County

    This site represents the Dewey Decimal System, indicating the subcategories within the main categories.

  • National University of Ireland, Galway

    Students will be able to see that the Dewey Decimal System is used internationally.


    Students should have some familiarity with the Internet and know how to use a Web browser.

    Time Allotment: This lesson requires about 8-10 class periods.

  • Brainstorm various ways of categorizing things, i.e., size, shape, color, theme, etc. Introduce students to one of your own personal collections and discuss your system of organization, or read a book about collecting things. Elicit responses from the students identifying their personal collections and discuss if they have a system of categorization. Ask students to think about ways of categorizing their collections. Students should be encouraged to bring their collections to class, if possible.

  • Students can work in groups or individually to design a categorizing system for their collections. Since collections are of a personal nature, this activity would be most successful if the students were empowered to make this decision. Ask students to think about what municipality is most likely to have a system of categorization. No doubt, you will elicit the Library as a response.

  • Using the Internet, introduce the students to the Dewey Decimal System. Visit The Central Library on Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, New York, unless your local library is currently online. Use the sites bookmarked for additional resources.

  • Inform students that cataloging the class library will be a joint effort. Announce that the class will visit the local library. Plan ahead of time with the reference librarian to focus on the cataloging system, how it is managed, and how to use the online cataloging system. Particular subjects of individual interest can be brainstormed ahead of time so students can check out books. Each student should have a library card. Additional preparation in this area may be necessary.

  • During the class session following the library visit, students should begin cataloging the class library using the worksheet in the Student Organizer.


    • Social Studies: Study the history of the library and how libraries are now more than holders of books. They are often a central place for a community -- they teach courses, have computer labs, they hold functions, etc. Why is that? It's a public building. What is a public building? Who owns it?

    • Integration of Math, History, Architecture, Language Art, Logic: If you were going to build a library that had all of the things mentioned above, what would it look like?

    • Social Studies: Study mapping using your local public transportation systems. If your community does not have public transportion, use a make-believe car. Have students create a map using transportation from school and home to the local library.

    • Language Arts: Have students give an oral presentation of their design of the library and maps. Students should also turn in a documentation portfolio to reflect their work on these projects.

    • Designing a Webquest for group activities is recommended. See Concept To Classroom Workshop on Webquest:


    I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER. Written by Jane Tesh. Illustrated by John Fique. Published by Alleyside Press. 1997. 8.5" x 11". 4 pages.

    SUBJECT HEADINGS FOR CHILDREN: A LIST OF SUBJECT HEADINGS USED BY THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WITH ABRIDGED DEWEY NUMBERS ADDED. Edited by Lois Winkel. 2nd edition. Two volumes. Volume 1: List of Headings. Volume 2: Keyword Index. 1998. Paper. ISBN 0-910608-58-X.

    THE DEWEY RAP. Written and performed by Joan McElfresh. 1988. 8.5minute audio cassette and a printed copy of the lyrics.
    Developed, produced, and published by a practicing school librarian, THE DEWEY RAP makes learning the Dewey Decimal Classification system fun for all grade levels. Author-producer Joan McElfresh performs the lead vocal with backup singers and synthesized music. THE DEWEY RAP uses the solid beat and easy-to-remember rhyme of rap music to teach the subjects found in the ten main Dewey classes.

    "Dot Marks the Spot." This new poster helps children learn how to use the library by improving their understanding of the Dewey Decimal System. Dot, the decimal point in Dewey numbers, creatively illustrates representative subjects in each of the ten main classes of the Dewey Decimal System. The poster is conveniently sized (17" x 37") to fit on the end of a bookstack.

    Suggested for Younger Children:
    CATALOGING CORRECTLY FOR KIDS: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE TOOLS. Edited by Sharon Zuiderveld. American Library Assn Editions. 1998. Paperback. ISBN: 0-838934-76-5 0.48 x 9.01 x 6.05 142 pages.
    Treat young children visiting your library with this low-cost comic-style booklet that teaches the Dewey Decimal Classification system. Designed for grades K-5, in a 4-page booklet.

    HOOKED ON LIBRARY SKILLS: A SEQUENTIAL ACTIVITIES PROGRAM FOR GRADES K-6. Written by Marguerite Lewis and P. Kudla. Center for Applied Research in Education. 1988. Paperback. ISBN: 0-876284-08-X.

    57 GAMES TO PLAY IN THE LIBRARY OR CLASSROOM. Written by Carol K. Lee and Fay Edwards. Highsmith Press. 1997. Paperback. ISBN: 1-579500-14-5 0.34 x 10.89 x 8.48.


    One Computer in the Classroom
    If you have access to one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Divide your class into a few groups. Instruct some of the groups to do paper research while the other group is working on the computer. Bring in books, encyclopedias, etc. from the library for the groups doing paper research. When the groups have finished working, have them switch places.

    If you have a big monitor or projection facilities, you can do Internet research together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen, then go to a relevant Web site(s) and review the information presented there. You can also select a search engine page and allow your students to suggest the search criteria. Again, bookmark and/or print the pages that you think are helpful for reference later.

    Several Computers in the Classroom
    Divide your class into small groups. Groups can do Internet research using pages you have bookmarked. Group members should take turns navigating the bookmarked site.

    You can also arrange the computers so that each is dedicated to certain sites. Students will then move around the classroom, getting different information from each station.

    Using a Computer Lab
    A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing Web-based projects. Generally, when doing Web-based research, it is helpful to put students in groups of three so they can help each other if problems or questions arise. It is often beneficial to bookmark sites for students ahead of time.

    Submit a Comment: We invite your comments and suggestions based on how you used the lesson in your classroom.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students