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My Favorite Back to School Library Activity — Library Orientation Scavenger Hunt

Looking for a fun and easy Back to School library activity? This one is my favorite! This Library Orientation Scavenger Hunt allows students to independently explore the library while locating important items that they will need over and over throughout the school year.

HERE’S WHY I LOVE THIS BACK TO SCHOOL LIBRARY ACTIVITY:

  • It gets students up and moving.
  • Students can work independently or together.
  • It’s useful! Students can find things they will need all year.

FAST FACTS ABOUT THIS BACK TO SCHOOL LIBRARY ACTIVITY:

Objective: Students will explore the library and learn where important sections and items are located in the library.

Grade level: 4-7

Duration: I allowed 30 minutes, which was just right. Some finished a little early, but everyone finished.

Teams or individual? I always allow my students to choose to work alone, with a partner, or with team of three.

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR THE LIBRARY ORIENTATION SCAVENGER HUNT:

  • printable scavenger hunt card (it’s editable)
  • printable QR codes
  • QR reader on ipad or student cell phone
  • internet is NOT required for these QR codes–students can also use their phone camera app to get the “secret word.”

HOW TO SET UP THE LIBRARY ORIENTATION SCAVENGER HUNT

STEP 1– Decide what your 24 locations/items will be.

I included my card as an example, but you will need to change them to suit your library. Edit the card to reflect these locations. Some sample objects/locations for students to find might include: clock, tissues, OPAC station, fire exit, closest restrooms, circulation desk, book return, librarian (you could hold a QR code for them to scan), library assistant, different Dewey and genre sections, etc.

STEP 2– Create your QR codes.

You will need 24 individual QR codes, one for each scavenger hunt location.

STEP 3–Write the location on each QR code.

For example, if the students need to find the printer, write “printer” underneath the QR code. I did not do this with my first group, and some students asked, “Is this the printer code?” or if two codes were close together, “Which of these is the mystery section code?” One code fell on the floor, and it took me a minute to figure out where it went.

Needless to say, after the first group, I wrote the locations on the codes. When I did the scavenger hunt with the next class, no one was confused about which code went with which square.

STEP 4–Place the QR codes around the library or other space you are using.

Personally, I want the library orientation to be as smooth and easy for me as possible. I want every student to be successful, so I place my labels in plain sight. Put the labels on top of each location, especially for younger students or if you are limited on time.

If you want to make it a little more challenging (and have the time to do so), you could place the labels in more difficult-to-see spots.

STEP 5–Walk through the Library Orientation Scavenger Hunt.

It’s going to be tempting to skip this step, but please don’t! You want to make sure the scavenger hunt works all the way through. If you are short on time, ask a teacher’s child or library volunteer to do the scavenger hunt before school.  Be sure to scan the QR codes to make sure they work.

DIRECTIONS FOR STUDENTS

  1. Students can start anywhere on the grid.
  2. Find the item or section in the library and look for the QR code, which is located in plain sight.
  3. When you scan the QR, a secret word will appear on your screen.
  4. Write the secret word on the square for that location. (I picked a square and did the first one with the students.)

After you have found all the words, see if you can solve the secret message. The blanks at the bottom reflect the exact number of letters in each word.

WHAT WILL YOU DO WHILE YOUR STUDENTS COMPLETE THE LIBRARY ORIENTATION SCAVENGER HUNT?

I highly recommend the librarian and/or teacher walk around and help any student having trouble. My students did very well with this activity and did not need much help from me.

VARIATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS OR ELL STUDENTS

For my ELL class, I just had the students find the things on the list and check them off. They did not do the QR codes or the secret message at all. They did great!

When scanned, each QR code links to one secret word. The word is a small part of a longer phrase, a quotation from Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire.

This quotation is a great springboard to discuss how the library represents many different cultures, languages, and ideas, and it’s okay if we do not all agree. If you get a book that you don’t like or makes you uncomfortable, simply return the book to the library and get something else.

This Library Orientation Scavenger Hunt is the perfect back to school library activity. Created for Grades 4-7, but I've used it with students up to Grade 9. Includes QR codes, so students will need the Camera app on their phones or tablets.WANT TO GIVE MY FAVORITE BACK TO SCHOOL LIBRARY ACTIVITY A TRY?

Find the Library Orientation Scavenger Hunt in the MrsReaderPants shop

Find it in my TPT shop

 

7 Comments

  • This sounded like so much fun so I spent the morning last week modifying it (very little) for our school and making sure it worked on our Chromebooks. Then the administration told me they didn't want the camera available to students, and I can't see how to disable the camera function except for the ScanQR app, so it was all for naught. I even called Lenovo, the company that sold us thousands of Chromebooks. After keeping me on the line for over an hour, they said they couldn't tell me anything because my Chromebook was out of warranty! I asked if they could just tell me IF it was possible to disable the camera function for everything but the app, not HOW to do it. They would not tell me! So, I am so disappointed. I know this would have been fun for my 6th grade students, and it worked like a charm. Thanks so much for letting us try it out.

    Reply
    • Awww…that is such a bummer that you weren't able to use it! I've never heard of the students not being able to use the camera–I didn't even know it was possible to disable the camera. Maybe you could just put the words of the quotation in your scavenger hunt locations? I didn't use the QR codes with my ESL classes; they just found the location and checked it off the scavenger hunt. They still had fun and learned where to find things in the library.

      Reply
    • Your blog is absolutely amazing, you are truly an awesome Librarian. I will share your ideas and send many thank-yous' in advance. I am a librarian at two elementary school's

      Reply
  • Hi,
    I love this idea and I purchased the TPT instructions, but I can't figure out how to edit the questions and the grid. Any ideas?
    Thanks,
    Michelle

    Reply
    • Hi, Michelle,
      I just responded through TPT. When you open the grid in MS Word, you should see a box at the top (mine is yellow) that says something like "Protected View–Enable Editing." If you click that box, you will be able to edit. Alternately, you can do FILE-SAVE AS and save the grid on your computer. This will enable you to edit.

      Hope that helps!
      Leigh

      Reply

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