Using an Encyclopedia Scavenger Hunt

Presented by: Mary Dixon

Subject Area(s):

Grade Level(s):


This lesson allows students to practice finding topics within an encyclopedia whle reinforcing facts learned in the classroom curriculum.

Goals & Objectives:

Students will find the correct encyclopedia for their topic and will then locate needed information within the topic. Students will work in cooperative groups to accomplish this task.


Worksheet on China, pencils, encyclopedia volumes


1. In advance of the lesson, the librarian will work with the classroom teacher to receive notes of a current Social Studies or Science lesson (in this case, China). A scavenger hunt worksheet will be prepared by the librarian. This worksheet should ask students to find information within the encyclopedia that corresponds with the facts they are learning in the classroom or an area that supports a portion of the curriculum already taught.

2. On the day of the class, prior to the students' arrival, the librarian will place volumes of the encyclopedia around the library.

3. Upon student arrival, the librarian will welcome them and introduce the class objective. To gain student interest, the librarian will ask the students to share something they have learned about China during Social Studies that they found interesting.

4. The importance of using an encyclopedia during the quest for information will be then be quickly reviewed with the students. The librarian will consequently review how encyclopedia topics are arranged and how to use guide words to efficiently find the desired topic. The use of guide words will be related to their use in dictionaries since it is a skill that has been previously taught and practiced in the classroom. To ensure confidence in student understanding, the librarian will check for understanding by asking students to explain back to the teacher the process used to find topics within an encyclopedia.

5. To increase student interest in the encyclopedia activity, the librarian will explain that the students will now participate in a scavenger hunt for information about China. Students will be placed in groups of two or three based on the librarian's knowledge of ability levels. Students that will experience difficulty with the activity will be placed with students with higher ability that also have compassionate personalities.

6. Groups will be given a worksheet on China and a pencil.

7. It will be explained that students will work cooperatively to complete the worksheet by finding the underlined topic in the correct volume of the encyclopedias that have been placed around the library. Once the volume has been located, students will read through the topic to find answers to the questions on the worksheet. Since the objective of the lesson is to locate the topic within the encyclopedia, all answers are located in the beginning of the information relating to the topic. This is explained to students to increase their success rate in finding the answers.

8. It will be further explained that students do not need to work on the questions in order, nor do they have to complete the worksheet during one library class. By allowing students to work on questions randomly, a "backup" at an encyclopedia volume can be avoided and, therfore, make the activity more motivating. In addition, the worksheet was designed to ensure that advanced groups have enough material to keep them challenged. Therefore, it is not expected that all students will complete all questions. The explanation to the students that the entire worksheet does not have to be completed, relieves some pressure from those students that must work harder. Through experience, this has been found to be a motivator and does not decrease the amount of group work produced.

9. To increase group success, the first question can be answered together as a whole group. After asking if there are any questions, students may join their groups and start working on the scavenger hunt worksheet.

10. As each group completes a question, they will be asked to bring it to the librarian for correction. If the answer is correct, the librarian will mark it with a red "C", praise the group, and send them to work on another question. If the answer is incorrect, the librarian will help the group see what they have done incorrectly, praise them for an aspect of the work that was completed well, and provide guidance as needed to ensure the group finds the correct answer.


The librarian will evaluate the success of obtaining the lesson goal at the end of the class by observing the students at work and by reviewing the worksheets. If further reinforcement of the lesson is necessary, the activity will be extended through the next scheduled library class.

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