Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Library: A Wealth of Activities for the Montessori Classroom

NAMC montessori activities classroom library teacher and students
I loved going to the library as a child. The smell, the endless possibilities of books, and the freedom to pick any book and as many books as I wanted. I still love the library and I especially love sharing its wonder with children.

While working in a Montessori elementary classroom, the other teacher and I would alternate taking small groups to the local public library. Sometimes we would take a parent from the classroom as an additional adult. These trips allowed our Montessori students to complete research using resources that we were unable to provide in our classroom.

The elementary Montessori curriculum has many research components and as teachers, we can’t always have all of the needed resources in our classroom or school. For younger children, we called ahead and, if possible, set up a time for our students to receive a library lesson from the children’s librarian. For older children, we did the lesson ourselves. If your school has its own library, the librarian would surely be delighted to give your students lessons on any aspects of the library.

The Library: A Wealth of Activities for the Montessori Classroom

Before going to the library, ask students what they already know about the library. It’s possible many of your students have already been to a library. Discuss with your students that at the library they will see books, computers and other people. Explain that because of the other people, the appropriate voice volume for a library is to whisper. You can share with them that we also keep our bodies quiet in a library. We walk with soft steps and look with our eyes and not our hands. It might also be helpful to discuss that a public library is for everyone. Remind students to stay with the group until told otherwise.
NAMC montessori activities classroom library reading corner
Students may enjoy learning about the impressive library of ancient Alexandria and its accomplished librarian, Eratosthenes of Cyrene, who figured out how to measure the circumference of the Earth. (See the recommended book list for some books on Alexandria and Eratosthenes.)

After a tour of the library (including the computer card catalog), I like to send my students on a scavenger hunt. Depending on the length of the visit and the age of the students, I prepare index cards before hand that are labeled with either a subject keyword, author or book title. For example, one card might say llamas, another Judy Blume and a third might say Miss Nelson is Missing! For younger students, I would give one card and if time permits, give them another when they complete the task on the first card. For older students, I would prepare a bingo grid of tasks and consider it complete when they complete a bingo row or the whole card. Another option for older Montessori students would be more challenging clues such as, “Find a book that would help you write a research paper on the war that was taking place during Adolf Hitler’s lifetime.”

No matter the age group, it is important to remind students of library grace and courtesy before this activity. Their excitement can make it challenging for them to remember! Whether it’s your school library or the local public library, utilizing the library is an opportunity to work with your students on practical life skills, practicing grace and courtesy, history and research skills.

  • Please Bury Me in the Library, by J. Patrick Lewis
  • Library Mouse, by Daniel Kirk
  • "L" Is for Library, by Sonya Terry
  • Manners in the Library, by Carrie Finn
  • Dewey: There's a Cat in the Library!, by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter
  • Curious George Visits the Library, by H. A. and Margret Rey
  • Learning About Books and Libraries: A Gold Mine of Games, by Carol K. Lee and Janet Langford
  • Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians, by Jackie Mims Hopkins
  • The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians, by Carla Morris
  • Richard Wright and the Library Card, by William Miller and Gregory Christie
  • The Library of Alexandria, by Kelly Trumble
  • The Librarian Who Measured the Earth, by Kathryn Lasky
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, December 15, 2009.


  1. I am a former librarian who is working on their Montessori degree. I agree with you 100% about the usefulness of the library, especially a public library. a good children's librarian can give you tours, do class visits, teach research skills, share stories and songs and provide many many age appropriate books for a class. Given how well Montessori students take care of their environment, using a collection of library books is an inexpensive way to add depth and value to a unit of study. I also like your list of books. This summer, I had to design a unit for a language class and I did it on a
    library. There are a number of terrific books for children that go into a lot of details about libraries and library activities. So Bravo! to you for suggesting their use.

  2. Leslie,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment and helpful suggestions. I would love to see your library unit if you are willing to show it off! :-) I bet it's terrific!

    Thanks for reading the Montessori Teacher Training blog!


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