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Lesson Plan

Teaching Language Skills Using the Phone Book

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Teaching Language Skills Using the Phone Book

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Thirteen 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



The phone book can be used to teach many crucial language skills. This lesson includes a series of activities in which students first learn how to accomplish a specific task or find certain information in a phone book, then apply what they have learned using guiding handouts and their local phone book. They learn how to find a person's name in the phone book and explore spelling variations. They compare print and online phone books using a Venn diagram. They explore the community, emergency, and other special information pages found in the phone book. They practice alphabetizing items and finding items that are listed in alphabetical order. They practice using the yellow pages in a variety of ways, play with creating 800-numbers for businesses, and explore time zones and area codes using the maps found in their phone book. Finally, students use their skills to create a class phone book.

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Phone Book Activity: Emergency Resources: This handout has students look for emergency numbers in a phone book. It could also be useful for a safety lesson.

Using the Phone Book: The Yellow Pages and the White Pages: This handout explains the difference between the yellow pages and the white pages in a phone book, and has students practice finding information in the yellow pages of their phonebook.

Interactive Venn Diagram: Students can use this online tool to compare and contrast two items, such as print and online phone books.

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By having students engage in multiple activities using the phone book, this lesson addresses several important points from NCTE and IRA's Standards for the English Language Arts. Standards state:

"Because there are many kinds of reading and many purposes for reading, students need to read for a range of purposes and within a variety of contexts in order to become proficient and knowledgeable readers. They need opportunities to explore and study many different kinds of printed texts..."

"It is essential that students acquire a wide range of abilities and tools for raising questions, investigating concerns, and solving problems."

"Students need to learn creative and multifaceted approaches to research and inquiry. The ability to identify good topics, to gather information, and to evaluate, assemble, and interpret findings from among the many general and specialized information sources now available to them is one of the most vital skills that students can acquire."

Further Reading

National Council of Teachers of English and International Reading Association. 1996. Standards for the English Language Arts. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English and International Reading Association.

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