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Take Them Out to
The Ball Game


When baseball fever strikes, these activities from Education World can be the perfect antidote. Included: A stadium full of activities and links to team sites, baseball math sites, cross-curricular projects -- and even the famous Abbott and Costello "Who's On First?" script!

Play Ball! Baseball season officially opens this week. For students, the welcome warmth of the spring sun, the tantalizing sight of green grass and manicured base lines, the far off sound of a bat meeting a ball, the imagined scent of popcorn and hotdogs, can be powerful distracters. Desperate measures are called for! Bring the game into the classroom -- and score a home run -- with this week's Education World lessons and activities. Although most are designed for students in grades 5 and above, many can be adapted for younger students as well.

 

BATTER UP!

Begin your study of baseball by reading the poem Casey at the Bat aloud to students. (Or you might read aloud the Caldecott Honor book Casey At the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888.) Discuss how sports affect the lives of fans as well as players. Ask students to tell about an occasion when sports positively or negatively affected their own lives. Students might also be inspired to write their own poems about baseball. You might share The Story Behind the Poem "Casey at the Bat" and you might introduce some additional "Casey at the Bat" Activities. Find more nice activities in the "Casey at the Bat" Study Guide.

History -- write about baseball history. Arrange students into groups and assign each group a period of time from 1845 to the present. Invite students to explore Baseball Almanac: Year-By-Year History, Sports History, Yahoo Directory: Baseball History, Legendary Ladies of Baseball, and Negro Baseball Leagues and have each group prepare a report about baseball-related events during its assigned period. Encourage each group to share its report with the class. Students might also create a timeline of the highlights of baseball history and display it, with their reports, on a classroom or hallway bulletin board.

Math -- figuring averages. Invite students to explore the information about batting averages at Mathletics: Baseball. Then provide them with information about hits and at-bats for a fictional baseball team and ask them to determine the batting averages of each player. If you teach older students, you might share A Graphical History of Baseball. Click the link at Batting Stats > League Batting > ML Batting Average and share the graph of Major League batting averages from 1900 to the present. Then challenge students to plot the averages over the years of their favorite team.

Art -- design a stamp. Encourage students to read about the history of Baseball On Stamps, then invite them to design a stamp honoring their own favorite player or players.

Speech and drama -- present a skit. Invite students to pair off and recreate the Abbott and Costello skit, Who's On First?

Math -- set player salaries. Challenge students to imagine that Major League Baseball has decided to do away with long-term contracts and set players' salaries based on their performance the previous year. Arrange students into groups. Agree as a class on certain criteria that will guide salary considerations. For example, agree on

  • the position players you will examine (students might examine the 15 field players on the team who had at least 200 at-bats in the previous year)
  • how much money a team is allowed to spend on its eight starting fielders
  • whether to pay all rookie players a base salary or base their salary on the previous year in the minor leagues

Assign each group a different team. The groups must agree on a way to measure the offensive performance of their (15) players, create a table on which they will display the previous year's stats, and come up with "fair salaries" that reflect the abilities of the players based on the previous year's data.

COVERING ALL THE BASES

Baseball-related activities cover every curriculum area.

Language arts -- use it in a sentence. Point out to students that a number of baseball-related terms, such as batting 1000, struck out, and play ball have come to be used in everyday language. Brainstorm a list of those terms and then ask students to use them in a non-baseball-related sentence. You might supplement their list with some of the expressions from Wikipedia's English-Language Idioms Derived from Baseball. If you teach younger students, you might see how they do at answering the questions that are part of National Geographic's Talking Baseball Quiz (link not workding 2/19/2010).

Science -- find out about physics. Invite students to visit the Exploratorium's Science of Baseball site and click How Far Can You Hit One?, Scientific Slugger, and Fastball Reaction Time to learn how gravity, wind resistance, reaction time, and other scientific factors affect the speed and trajectory of a hit baseball. Then encourage students to explore the entire site to learn about some other historical and scientific aspects of baseball.

History -- create a timeline. Ask students to visit Baseball, the Color Line, and Jackie Robinson, The TIME 100: Jackie Robinson, or other sites about the first African-American to play baseball in the major leagues. Then invite students to research other team sports, such as basketball, football, and soccer, to learn when each of those sports was integrated. Have students expand the search to learn more about the entire history of integration in the United States. Then encourage them to create a timeline of important civil rights milestones in this country.

Character education -- find the heroes. Point out to students that sports figures are often thought of as heroes by their fans. Ask each student to choose a well-known player from the past or present and to research that player's life. Then have students write a report that answers the questions: Do you think the player was a hero? Why or why not? As a starting point, you might use The Hall of Famers list from the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Geography -- make a map. Provide each student with a copy of this map. Have them use the Ballparks Web site's map of parks to determine which team's park is located at each A (American League) or N (National League) spot on the map.

To get to the map, click the photograph of the baseball diamond on Ballparks main page >
click Facts and Figures in the listing on the left side of the page
click on Map of Current Ballparks

Ask students to write the name of the team and its park next to each spot on the map. If you teach older students, you might provide a list of teams and have them use their U.S. map knowledge to mark each team's location. Then have them use the Ballparks map to check their answers and confirm their map awareness.

GET IN THE GAME!

The Great American Pastime has something for everyone -- on or off the field.

Language arts -- write a letter. Encourage students to write a letter asking their favorite baseball player what personal characteristic helped him achieve his goals. You can find a list of team addresses on the Major League Baseball Web page Kids: Mail Call.

Health and safety -- make a poster. Encourage students to learn about baseball injuries and safety by visiting Web pages such as ASAP - A Safety Awareness Program on the official Little League site, Tips to Prevent Baseball Injuries, and Baseball Safety for Children. Then have each student make a poster about baseball safety to take home. Combine the best ideas from the individual posters onto a large poster and display it on a classroom or hallway bulletin board.

Language -- word search. Invite students to visit Baseball at Its Best and complete the Baseball Word Search.

Physical education -- play ball! Invite students to play Cone Baseball.

Construct a Stadium
Welcome to Sullivan Field: A Math, Science and Language Arts Webquest for Sullivan Middle School provides links and activities students can use to plan a community baseball stadium.

EXTRA INNINGS

Some games are rained out. When that happens, it's always a good idea to have another game plan. Your students will enjoy these online games when they can't have the real thing! (Note: Most online baseball games require the Shockwave plug-in.)