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Grades 3-5 Math Lesson Using a Telephone Book: Dial Up Some Fun!

written by: Patricia Gable • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 7/12/2012

Find a telephone book for a fun, practical and educational learning opportunity. Here are some activities across the curriculum for your lesson.

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    120px-Auckland Yellow pages 

    If you are looking for a unique and practical way to grab a student’s attention, use a telephone book! You can include many goals across the curriculum engaging all of your students.

    The first thing you need to do is find a source to provide telephone books for each student. It is best to have the same edition for everyone so that the answers will be easy to check. In addition, gather maps of the city in which you live to use with the phone book for some mapping activities.

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    Alphabetical Order

    Prior Knowledge:

    Your students should know the fundamentals of putting words in alphabetical order to the second letter. They should also be familiar with using the guide words at the top of each page, which show the first and last word on that page. They should know that, when looking for a word that begins with “T," they would not open the book to the first page and work back to the “T's." Rather, they would open the book closer to the end where the T’s would be found.


    1. To put words in alphabetical order to the second and third letter.
    2. To practice using guide words at the top of each page.


    1. Write the last name of each student on the board. Students can then choose ten of the names and write them on a piece of paper. Next, students should locate where each name would be in the phone book. Write the page number and guide words beside each name on the paper.

    2. Use the yellow pages. Find the first page of listings for each of these categories: Pizza Places, Dentists, Tax Return Preparation, Pest Control Service, Furniture Dealer, etc.

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    Reading for a Purpose


    Students will realize that reading is necessary to find practical everyday information.

    Use the yellow pages to find information. Find the name and page number of the following:

    1. An attorney that deals with personal injuries.
    2. A dry cleaner that picks up and delivers.
    3. A florist that has same day delivery.
    4. A veterinarian who also can board animals.
    5. A computer repair service that comes to your home.
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    Math Skills

    Story Problems:

    Many phone books now have coupons on the last few pages. Use these to create real life story problems. Here are examples for using a telephone book:

    1. A local pest control service has a coupon for $695.00 termite service. The regular price is $789.00. How much is saved by using the coupon?
    2. Find a plumber that offers a discount coupon. If the bill is $500.00, what is the final price when using the coupon?

    Other kinds of word problems:

    1. Find the listing for Pizza Hut. How many hours are they open on Monday and Tuesday?
    2. Carpet corner advertises carpet for $2.50 per square foot. Your room measures 20" x 12". How much will your carpet cost? Installation costs $75.00. Now what is the total price?
    3. Find two furniture store listings. Which store is open more hours? How many more?
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    Social Studies Map Skills

    1. Work in pairs. Each pair of students should have a town/city map and a local phone book. Provide a list of places for the students to look up in the phone book to find the addresses. Then the students, using the street index, should mark the location on the map.

    2. Using the map from #1, find the location of the school and mark it. Using a ruler and the “miles per inch scale" guide of the map, find out how many miles each business is located from the school.

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    Thinking Skills: Scavenger Hunt

    Create a worksheet based on your own phone book that would provide a variety of practice. Here are some items that you can include:

    1. Find a pizza place that delivers to the school.
    2. What would you look up if you want to send flowers to your mom for her birthday? Name the business that you found.
    3. What is the address of the closest movie theater?
    4. Your home has an ant problem. What is the page number of a place than can help?
    5. You broke your tooth playing football at 7:00 pm. Write down the name and phone number of someone professional who can help.


  • Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/Andrew Sullivan,
  • Resource: All About Spelling: Teaching Alphabetizing,

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