(This is the first installment of our annual homeschool review of the Dewey Decimal system. Print your own River Houses Calendar to follow along with us, and add your name to our weekly mailing list to get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year.)
Tuesday is our usual Homeschool Books & Libraries Day in the River Houses — we think teaching your students how to use the library independently is one of the best educational gifts you can give them. Most public libraries in the United States arrange their books according to the Dewey Decimal Classification, so teaching the basics of the “DDC” is one of the first things you’ll want to do.
If you start in September at the beginning of the River Houses year and run until July, you can “adopt” one of the major Dewey Decimal classes each month and cover the whole of knowledge (!) in a year. Our first-Tuesday Books & Libraries post each month invites you to do just that, and since this is the very first Books & Libraries post of the entire year, we’ll begin today by inviting you to orient your students to the organization of your local library as a whole.
The Dewey Decimal system arranges books into “hundreds” according to subject, and the major classes are:
- MAJOR DEWEY DECIMAL CLASSES (“Hundreds”)
- Class 000 – Computer Science, Information, & General Works
- Class 100 – Philosophy & Psychology
- Class 200 – Religion
- Class 300 – Social Sciences
- Class 400 – Languages
- Class 500 – Science
- Class 600 – Technology
- Class 700 – Arts & Recreation
- Class 800 – Literature
- Class 900 – History & Geography
By “hundreds” we mean the numbers running from 00 to 99 within each class: “the 300s” (Social Sciences) means the numbers running from 300 to 399; “the 500s” (Science) means the numbers running from 500 to 599; and so on.
On your next library visit, take a few minutes with your students to find the 000s (“the zero-hundreds”), and then follow the maze of shelves around the whole library all the way through the 100s, the 200s, the 300s, and so on, until you come to 999. You can make it a fun little treasure hunt and a beginning-of-the-year tradition. Don’t try to memorize the classification or analyze it in detail — just follow the numbers from beginning to end and your little lesson is done.
When you’re learning the library with your students, be sure they understand that any library collection that uses the Dewey Decimal Classification will be arranged in the same way: the numbers run from 000 to 999 in every Dewey-based library, so if you’re interested in, say, Astronomy, you’ll find it in the 520s in both the small-town library near you and in the big-city library across the country. If you have an opportunity to take field trips to multiple libraries over the course of the year you’ll be able to demonstrate that in practice and get your students accustomed to orienting themselves by reading the numbers aloud as you walk together down the ranges: “500 … 510 … 515 … here it is, 520.”
Mastering these library basics will help your students become independent life-long learners and will ensure that they’ll feel right at home in any library they visit.
What delightful decimals and textual treasures will you and your students be searching for in your library this Cygnus Term? 😊
❡ Dukedoms large enough: Have you found all the local libraries in your area? There may be more than you realize, and there’s no better homeschool field trip than a field trip to a new library! The WorldCat Library Finder will help you find all the library collections near you — public and private, large and small — and the WorldCat catalog itself will help you locate the closest copy of almost any book in the world. 🏛
❡ Dewey Detectives at home: Did you know there are secret Dewey Decimal numbers hiding in the books on your very own shelves? It’s true! Here are some tips on how you can send your students on a treasure hunt to find them. 🔍️
❡ Books in the running brooks: The sidebar on the River Houses website has links to several wonderful online library collections that we like to explore. Why not sit yourself down at a large screen for a while (rather than a phone) and give them a browse. 🖥
❡ When in doubt, go to the library: This is one of our regular Homeschool Books & Libraries posts. Add your name to our weekly mailing list and get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 📫
❡ Homeschool calendars: We have a whole collection of free, printable, educational homeschool calendars and planners available on our main River Houses calendar page. They will all help you create a light and easy structure for your homeschool year. Give them a try today! 🗓
❡ Support our work: If you enjoy our educational materials, please support us by starting your regular Amazon shopping from our very own homeschool teaching supplies page. When you click through from our page, any purchase you make earns us a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for helping us to keep going and growing! 🛒
❡ Join us! The aim of the River Houses project is to create a network of friendly local homeschool support groups — local chapters that we call “Houses.” Our first at-large chapter, Headwaters House, is now forming and is open to homeschoolers everywhere. Find out how to become one of our founding members on the Headwaters House membership page. 🏡