Dewey Decimal Activity — Designing a Zoo


I have used this introduction to the Dewey Decimal Activity with students as young as 3rd grade and as old as 10th grade! It’s low-prep, hands-on, easy to explain, and collaborative. This activity also is PERFECT for teacher-librarian evaluations!

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  • Recommended for: Grades 3-6 (though I have used it up to Grade 10)
  • Lesson duration: two library lessons of 30-40 minutes each
  • You will need: printer, white cardstock, PowerPoint or Google Slides, computer projector or TV, laminating machine (optional)
  • Editable: presentation text is editable in PPT and Google Slides; PDF animal cards and lesson plan are not editable


  • 30 printable animal cards with images (not editable)
  • complete two-day lesson plan for librarian or teacher
  • 15-slide PowerPoint and Google Slides introduction to the coolness that is the Dewey Decimal System! (all text is editable)


  • printer
  • white cardstock*
  • PowerPoint or Google Slides
  • computer projector or TV
  • sandwich bags or binder clips to keep cards together
  • laminating machine (optional)

*Colored cardstock is not recommended for this activity. You do not want so the students do not organize their animals by color of the card. For best results, use white or a single light color.


  • Divide students in groups of 3-5. They should have tables to work on, or they can spread out on the floor.
  • Each group has a stack of 30 animal cards (included).
  • The students arrange the cards on a table to design the layout of a new zoo. The zoo should be logical and make it easy for visitors to locate the animals they want to see.
  • Recommended: Take a few photos! You can add these to the presentation in Lesson Two to help students remember what they did in Lesson One.


  • Lesson Two is an editable 15-slide presentation about the Dewey Decimal System.
  • The presentation explains Dewey and correlates the zoo activity with the 500 section of the library.


  • IV. Curate—Students will organize information by priority, topic, or other systematic scheme.


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