A library is an essential part of the school community, giving children the opportunity to discover a vast world of knowledge, to grasp core skills like reading, writing, organisation, and research. Participating in the use and care of the library is a key to understanding the value of knowledge and learning that is at the centre of our society.
In primary school, children will often have their first experiences with using the library. Through primary school activities that engage children, you can help them grow accustomed to using the library. Teach them how to be considerate and how to learn on their own initiative with these activities that get kids exploring the space.
Tips for Primary School Library Activities
- Make a book suggestion box and have each student complete a form detailing a book or a type of book they want to see in the library. Having the material that students genuinely want to read available is the first spet to getting them to spend more time in the library
- Start a reading marathon by putting up a reading chart in your classroom or in the library. Children can earn stickers for each book they read with a prize at the end when they’ve completed a certain number of books. Use a chart like this A3 Classroom Chart complete with star stickers so the children can keep track of their progress and be motivated to keep reading. This shouldn’t be turned into a race, though, Children all read at different speeds and favouring those who read more quickly could discourage the slower readers altogether.
- Appoint library assistants by selecting two or three students each week whose job it is to go to the library and make sure that everything is clean and tidy and in good working order. This will help to give the children a sense of autonomy over the library and motivate them to keep it in good condition. You could provide a checklist that will need to be signed by the librarian after each trip to the library covering things like no waste paper on tables, and other children being quiet.
Making Space for School Library Reading Activities
If it’s not practical for your classroom to have a reading corner you should check if your library has one. If not it’s a good idea to set one up. Children benefit from having a quiet space that is dedicated to reading or storytime. This helps them to compartmentalise reading sessions so that they can focus on the task at hand without distractions.
You can stoke the imagination of your students by letting them help you decorate the reading corner in a way they like or a way that reminds them of the topics you’re currently reading or learning about. Get some inspiration from our den making supplies and find some fabrics and decorations your students might like.
Scavenger Hunt Game
Library activities for school children that get them moving around the room are a useful starting point. This is important for when they need to do their own research, but also to help them discover everything that the library has to offer, and hopefully inspire them to spend some time there for their own enjoyment.
Send the students on a scavenger hunt to collect special items from around the library. The items you ask them to find could be:
- A newspaper
- A CD
- A book bigger than 15cm in height
- A stamp from the librarian (maybe for successfully checking out a book)
- A fact about the school by doing research on a library computer
Make sure the students will have to explore every area and pay close attention to detail. You could add bonus points for details like finding a newspaper from last year or finding a non-fiction CD.
Author Detective Game
Library activities for primary school children should help them grasp the way books are organised into the Dewey Decimal System and placed throughout the space. Help the students to understand the reference system in the library by tasking them to find a list of authors. Your list of author requirements should probe them to consider how to find certain names with different pieces of information. For example, your list could look like this:
- Find an author with a surname beginning with ‘St’
- Find an author who writes science fiction
- Find an author who was alive in the 1800s
- Find something written by a journalist (find out what type of author a journalist is first)
This will push the children to think of different ways to find information in the library besides simply looking for a genre section.
Getting to know the library for the first time can be exciting, and this excitement should be encouraged as children explore all the information available to them. But it’s also important to teach children from the beginning that a library is a quiet place, and when they come into the library they must remember to keep noise levels down the whole time they’re there.
Have the children sit in a circle in the library to play a game of Telephone (which teachers might remember as Chinese Whispers). Start the message off and have the children pass the message round the circle as quietly as they can. This game will keep the idea of being quiet in their minds as they play. At the end of the game remind the children that if they are in the library then whisper or talking very quietly is the right thing to do. This is also a good game to play during circle time.
Make sure that your library has an area with a large mat for school library activities for children like this, and also for storytime when the class will listen to a story as a group. This Children of the World mat is ultrasoft and has a non-slip backing.
Secret Code Game
Library activities for primary school students can help with understanding the Dewy Decimal System which is used in all libraries they will visit in the UK. Use a fun activity like this secret code game to explain how the Dewey Decimal System works and get the students to practice using it.
Provide your students with a list of authors and task them with collecting all the reference numbers for each. It might be a good idea to ask them to find several authors in sequence so they can see how the reference numbers work next to each other. Once you’re confident the children understand how to find authors, provide them with a list of reference numbers and ask them to bring back a list of all the corresponding authors.
Library Guardians Game
The importance of respecting the books and equipment in the library should be something students are aware of from day one. Any activity that you carry out in the library should be treated with care to make sure books go back on the shelves without any bends or tears in them.
Teach children about looking after the library using this dice rolling game. You’ll need a die or some dice with emotions displayed on the faces like ‘sad’, ‘happy’, and ‘angry’. Our Soft Foam Emoji Dice are ideal for this game.
Let the students take turns to roll the dice and then describe a way to treat the library that would make them feel that emotion. For example, a sad face roll could lead to examples of ways to damage books or disorganise the library. A happy face roll could lead to examples of bringing books back on time and helping the librarian to put them back in the right places.