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Phone Book Math graphicPhone Book Math


Did the phone company just deliver new phone books to your door? Don't throw out the old ones -- ask students to bring them to school. Those old phone books offer opportunities for lots of valuable math practice; they're a great teaching tool! Included: Links to additional math lessons and resources!

Whatever you do, don't throw away your old phone books! Those used directories can be valuable teaching tools -- truly cost-effective math textbooks for your students!


Collect a Class Set!

The next time your local phone company issues new telephone directories, take the opportunity to collect a set of old ones for your class! Have students bring in their old phone books, or contact your local phone company and ask for a class set. Store the books in the school supply closet -- right alongside all the other textbooks.
This week, put your old phone books to new use with the five lessons listed below. Click each of the five lesson headlines for a complete teaching resource. (Approximate grade levels for each lesson appear in parentheses.)

Surname Survey
A study of data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals the most common family last names in the United States. Encourage your students to use the data to answer these questions: Does your local phone book reflect the list of most common last names? Where does your surname appear on the Census Bureau list? (Grades 3-12)

What numbers and letters can your students combine to form creative 1-800 numbers for businesses in the local Yellow Pages? Invite them to design posters featuring prominent phone numbers used to advertise fictitious businesses. (Grades 3-12)

Yellow Pages Ad-dition
Help students determine the revenue generated by sample pages from the Yellow Pages. Discuss with them the value of advertising a business in this venue. (Grades 3-12)

Let Your Fingers Do the Estimating
How many phone listings can be found in the White Pages of the local telephone directory? Nobody could possibly count them all, but your students can estimate and find the average! (Grades 3-12)

Area Code Mathematics
Students solve math problems based on a U.S. area code map. (Grades 3-12)


Have you seen these math articles in the Education World archives?

And Education World's Teacher-Submitted Lesson Plan database includes the following math lesson plans:

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2010 Education World

Originally published 07/26/2002
Last updated 06/02/2010