Grade 4s Dewey-ing it at the Library

How do we organize the IST library’s non-fiction collection? We use the Dewey Decimal Classification System to organize it by subject.

The site has a very good explanation of how the Dewey Decimal System came to be. It describes how Melvil Dewey, frustrated by how every library in the late 1800s organized its books in different ways, realized that one way of organizing library books was to consider the questions they answered. He divided the areas of non-fiction into 10 broad subjects, each of which answered a question. Mr. Dewey was an inquirer and he saw the library as the one place to answer all of life’s questions. has a great graphic organizer showing the different sections of the Dewey Decimal System and their corresponding questions.


The gallery below which shows our fourth graders working on their maps and Dewey scavenger hunts.

The fourth graders have had two lessons in a mini-unit on the Dewey Decimal System. In the first lesson, they mapped the non-fiction collection, labeling a map of the library with the call numbers for each section. In the second lesson, they completed a scavenger hunt where they had to identify the “hundreds” section they would look in to find information for a given topic.

For their new unit of inquiry, the fourth graders will be inquiring into how the world works, and specifically, into matter. They will be carrying out science experiments, and will therefore need the 500s section of our collection. Our next library lessons will be focused on helping them use the library OPAC to identify titles that might help them and then, with their enhanced knowledge on our Dewey Decimal classification, they will independently locate those title on the shelves.

4 thoughts on “Grade 4s Dewey-ing it at the Library

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  2. Dear Grade 4,

    I think Mr. Dewey was a very clever man. I think he will help you find the books you need for your next unit.

    Good luck!
    Ms. Nicol

    • Thanks, Ms. Nicol. Here at the library, we like that Dewey guy!

      I’m also very pleased at how well the grade 4 students used their beginning knowledge of the Dewey system and our library layout to locate materials. I’m predicting big things for this group!

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