It’s that time of the year again. The air is starting to smell of hot dogs, freshly cut grass, and leather. Cries of “Play ball!” are being heard all over, and chewing gum is selling out at many a grocery store. That’s right fans, it’s baseball season!
America’s national pastime is the perfect context for framing a few lesson plans. It’s fun to talk about, even more fun to play, and it can keep students entertained even when the end of the school year is drawing closer and closer.
So today I’m rounding up four great baseball resources for all sorts of different subjects. Grab your bat, step up to the plate, and let’s go!
Ken Burn’s “Baseball” and “The Tenth Inning”
I know, I know, the phrase “Ken Burns documentary” doesn’t usually get students (or even most adults, for that matter) squirming with excitement, but hear me out here! PBS has two sets of resources for the classroom on their site: traditional lesson plans and “seventh inning stretch” activities.
The lesson plans were originally designed for grades 7 through 10, but can be adapted to almost any grade. They usually include clips from the film itself. Fortunately, PBS did a good job of covering all the major subjects. They have a “Mapping Baseball” lesson on geography, a “Stadium Consultants” lesson for mathematics, and a “Bases Divided” lesson for social studies.
The “seventh inning stretch” activities are not as well built out as the lesson plans, but they can still be fun on their own. For example, they have a “Baseball Curses” activity (about superstitions, not swear words!) which has your students research and present to the class on a baseball curse of their choice. The “Fantasy Baseball” activity has your students use their math skills to simulate a baseball game on paper.
Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
The National Baseball Hall of Fame is well-known for keeping the stories of legendary baseball players alive, but it’s also a fantastic resource for educational materials. The lesson plans are clearly broken down by subject so you can grab exactly what you need, and they’re aligned to the Common Core State Standards too!
Check out the page for the “Batter Up!” lesson to see just how detailed these resources are. Each one is divided into rookie, intermediate, and advanced sections, and each of those has multiple lessons in it. Some lessons say “pre-visit” because the Hall of Fame designed the lessons to lead up to a class field trip to Cooperstown, but you can still use the lessons if you can’t go.
The Library of Congress on Baseball and Race
For older students, The Library of Congress has a couple different lesson plans on the intersection of baseball and race relations. My recommendation would be to start with the more general overview lesson, “Baseball, Race and Ethnicity: Rounding the Bases.” This will get your students thinking about how America’s favorite pastime reflects racial experiences in the country.
Second, the “Baseball, Race Relations, and Jackie Robinson” lesson will put what your students learned in the first lesson to use as they analyze two primary sources for evidence of past racism in the sport. Ideally, you could have your students present their findings to the class or just in a paper.
Baseball Resources from TeacherVision
If you haven’t seen it before, TeacherVision is essentially a database of free lesson plans, printables, and resources to download and use in the classroom. Of course, they have a special page for baseball-related resources too!
They have a few actual lesson plans on this page, but they’ve also got quite a few math resources and “baseball biographies” as well. These are good for mixing and matching with other classroom activities since they aren’t designed to work as a whole in one giant unit. It’s also nice because it means they have at least some resources for every subject, even poetry!
So those are my four favorite baseball resources and teaching sites. What are yours? Let us know in the comments!