An Elementary Reference Tool Lesson Plan: An Activity-Based Lesson

Introducing the World of Reference Tools

Teaching about reference tools and how to use them does not need to be confined to lectures and teacher-led discussions. Present


your students the opportunity to discover on their own the wealth of information that can be found through dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and atlases using this activity-based, elementary-level reference tool lesson plan.

I Objectives

  • Analyze the type of information needed
  • Identify and use the appropriate reference tool for efficient research

II Materials

  • Dictionary, encyclopedia, map, atlas, directory
  • Paper strips
  • Worksheets

III Procedure

A. Motivation: Word Association

1. Prepare strips of paper with the words DICTIONARY, ENCYCLOPEDIA, MAP/ATLAS and DIRECTORY.

2. Prepare the following phrases on strips of paper: word meaning, guide words, general information, location, address, capital cities, telephone numbers, etymology, entries. Add more phrases of your own that are related to any of the reference tools mentioned in number 1.

3. Post the paper strips in number 1 on the board. Randomly pass out the strips in number 2 to the students.

4. Ask the students to place the strips you gave under one of the categories on the board.

5. Briefly ask the students to explain why they placed the paper strips on a particular category.

6. Do not say whether their answers are correct or not. The next activity will help them self-correct their answers.

B. Engagement Activity: Group Work

Divide the class into four groups. Assign a reference tool for each group to discuss. Each group should have the actual reference tool assigned to them available for research. Send the students to the library as needed. Provide the task card below as their guide.


With your group, present to the class the assigned reference tool using the questions below.

1. What information can be found in the reference tool assigned to you?

2. What features of the reference tool can help you find information faster?

3. In what situations can that reference tool help you?

4. Give a sample question to which the reference tool can provide answers.

C. Discussion: Group Presentation

Each group can present their answers in various creative ways such as news reporting, role-playing, tableaux, posters, etc. Make corrections or add information as needed after every presentation. Entertain 2-3 questions from the class after each presentation. Allow the reporters or presenters to answer questions.

After all the groups have presented, go back to the strips of paper in the Motivation part. With the class, make corrections for the category each strip of paper must fall under. Ask students for brief explanations of the changes that have been made.

D. Assessment: Library Hunt

There are various worksheets available on the Internet that provide activities and assessments for reference tools. Those that can be found at may be printed and copied for students without violating copyright laws.

E, Enrichment

  1. Apply the discussion on this lesson plan in using online references.
  2. Have students write a short research paper on a topic that interests them using the various types of reference tools. Have them share their findings in class.

F. Curriculum Integration

This lesson can be integrated with Science and Social Studies research assignments. This can also be included in Computer class as a way of teaching online references.

G. Suggested Follow-Up Lesson

A lesson on citing sources properly will complete this elementary lesson on using the reference tools appropriately.