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1-800-MATHFUN


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Subjects
  • Arts & Humanities
    Language Arts, Visual Arts
  • Mathematics
    Arithmetic
  • Social Sciences
    Economics

Grades

3-5, 6-8, 9-12

Brief Description

Students combine numbers and letters to form creative 1-800 numbers for businesses in the local Yellow Pages, then design a poster featuring a prominent phone number advertising a fictitious business.

Objectives

Students will
  • think creatively and critically as they create 1-800 phone numbers that combine numbers and letters to convey a company's message or main business enterprise.
  • design a poster to advertise a fictitious business.

Keywords

media, literacy, phone, telephone, toll, advertise, poster, business

Materials Needed[shopmaterials]

  • local phone directory for each student (contact the local phone company for a class set or collect used phone directories when a new directory is issued)
  • chart paper
  • markers
  • art supplies

Lesson Plan

Ask students whether they have ever noticed how some businesses have phone numbers that spell out a word or phrase related to their business. For example:
  • The toll-free phone number for Alamo Car Rental is 1-800-GO-ALAMO (800-462-5266)
  • The toll-free number for the Red Roof Inns hotel chain is 1-800-THE-ROOF (800-843-7663)
  • The toll-free number for flowers.com is 1-800-FLOWERS (800-356-9377)
  • The toll-free number for AT&T's calling card division is 1-800-CALL-ATT (800-225-5288)
  • The Cancer Information Service uses the number 4 in its number to stand for the word "for." Their toll-free phone number is 1-800-4-CANCER.

Write the 800-numbers above on a class chart. Ask students whether they know of any other toll-free numbers that include key words related to a business. Invite students to add to the list by searching through the local phone directory, magazines, and other sources. The students might do this in small groups. Which group came up with the longest list of 800-numbers that include words? (This assignment might be a good one for homework; students and families could work on it together.)

Note: The supply of available 1-800 numbers has dwindled, so the phone companies are now designating numbers with prefixes of 888, 877, and 866 as toll-free numbers.

Next, ask students to translate some of the phone numbers they found with words to their numeric equivalents. (For example, 800-CALL-ATT is 800-225-5288.)

Next, provide a little 800-MATH-FUN by challenging students to look through the Yellow Pages of the local phone directory. Challenge them to create appropriate phone numbers with letters (these could be toll-free or local numbers) for businesses in your area. Of course, older students will exercise a little more creativity in this exercise than young students. You might narrow the efforts of students in grades 5 and above to local exchanges. For example:

  • If the business is a Mexican restaurant and your local dial prefix is 392, students might assign a local number of 392-4639, or 392-4MEX.
  • If the business is a car dealership and your local dial prefix is 689, students might assign a local number of 689-2277, or 689-CARS.
  • If the business is a delicatessen and your local prefix is 546, students might assign a local number of 546-8364, or 5HOT-DOG.

Lesson Note:
You might notice that a toll-free phone number consists of 800 (or 866, 877, or 888) plus seven numbers. That's because no phone number can be longer than ten characters (or 11 characters, if you dial a 1 before the number). But some companies publish toll-free numbers that are longer than ten characters in length. For example, the educational publisher Scholastic uses a 13-character toll-free number, 800-SCHOLASTIC. Another company uses the phone number 800-FURNITURE, which is 12 characters long. The fact is, the number could be 20 characters long. The phone system will accept only the first ten characters. The dial-through will start after those characters are punched or dialed. You might not share this fact with students before the lesson because limiting the number of characters (numbers and letters) to seven will force students to be more creative.

Extension activity:
Integrate art by having students design posters to advertise a fictitious business that features creative phone numbers in a prominent spot.

Assessment

At the end of the lesson, students share their work. Which phone numbers were the most creative?

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

FINE ARTS: Visual Arts

  • GRADES K - 4
    NA-VA.K-4.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
    NA-VA.K-4.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
    NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines

  • GRADES 5 - 8
    NA-VA.5-8.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
    NA-VA.5-8.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
    NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines

  • GRADES 9 - 12
    NA-VA.9-12.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
    NA-VA.9-12.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
    NA-VA.9-12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
LANGUAGE ARTS: English MATHEMATICS: Number and Operations
  • GRADES 3 - 5
    NM-NUM.3-5.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems

  • GRADES 6 - 8
    NM-NUM.6-8.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems

  • GRADES 9 - 12
    NM-NUM.9-12.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems
SOCIAL SCIENCES: Economics Return to Phone Book Math.

See more fun math lessons in these Education World articles:

6/14/2002

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