October is the time of the year we look forward to many of our favorite events. Carving pumpkins, picking apples, and trick or treating are just a few things we look forward to. Other anticipated events each fall are the baseball playoffs and World Series. Take advantage of student enjoyment of baseball to motivate and teach by incorporating a baseball theme into your lesson plans.
If you teach history, take a look at the rich history of baseball in the context of other world events. Easily incorporate baseball into Civil Rights lessons by studying the players and teams of Negro League Baseball dating back to 1880. Incorporate geography and teach map skills by studying locations of major league teams. Dig deeper by researching how teams locate to specific areas, what teams are most successful and what does geography have to do with their success? Here are several social studies-related websites to get you started:
- Presidential Baseball – Compare presidents to baseball players with this interesting game. Many references are to little-known players making it a bit difficult, but this also offers opportunities for digging a little deeper into baseball history.
- Baseball and Jackie Robinson – The Library of Congress offers this collection of images and web pages featuring Jackie Robinson and other events from the 1860’s through the 1960’s
- Negro Baseball Leagues – Learn the full history of the Negro Baseball Leagues including timelines, team and player information, and many photographs.
The World Series is an excellent time to appeal to the interests of reluctant readers. Take advantage of this time to offer links on classroom computers to updated information on the games and players. If you teach persuasive writing, ask students to write why their favorite team should win the World Series. Some other sites to incorporate reading and writing are:
- The Brooklyn Nine Webquest – This WebQuest, created for middle school students, is based on the idea of opening a box of baseball memorabilia. Each “inning” offers a snapshot of American history as seen through baseball. Students complete digital tasks along the way to design their own digital box of memorabilia.
- Cat at Bat – Created for beginning readers, this site accompanies the PBS show of the same name. Players come up to bat to click on a ball with rhyming words.
- Goodreads – Find many ideas for books about baseball by searching the Goodreads site. A search for baseball reveals many books about baseball including girls in sports, non-fiction books, and sports book for young adults.
Math and Science teachers should love the many opportunities to include baseball in the classroom. Baseball is a game of science, and many online sites are devoted to looking at the physics, data, and statistics involved with baseball.
- Fun with Baseball Stats – this lesson from NCTM introduces statistics to middle school students through baseball cards.
- The Physics of Baseball – Explore the physics of baseball through two different perspectives – the baseball-bat collision and flight of the ball through the air.
- Fastball Reaction Time – Can you react fast enough to hit it out of the park? Try this interactive to view your reaction time to each pitch.
- The Science of Baseball – What is a curve ball? Who were the girls of summer? Learn this and more at this comprehensive site from Exploratorium.
- The Sweet Spot – This site is for the true math and science “geeks”. Take a deep, introspective look at the physics behind the sweet spot of the bat.
Art and Music teachers also have several resources for incorporating the World Series into their classrooms. Baseball has many familiar sights and sounds perfect for incorporating the arts into lessons.
- Perfect Pitch – This interactive from the Kennedy Center uses baseball to explore a variety of musical instruments. Learn how instruments are made, discover famous musicians and composers, and understand the historical context of music as you create your team and answers questions about the orchestra.
- All Around the Baseball Field – Another interactive from the Kennedy Center, this activity allows players to focus on their artistic side. Players create and design their own baseball field, create pictures, or write a skit featuring the physical movements of baseball.
Teaching lessons with a baseball and World Series theme offers an excellent way not only to motivate students but also meet many standards. Through careful planning, you can offer multiple non-fiction reading and writing opportunities and real-world problem-solving opportunities while also appealing to your student’s interests.
What are your favorite ways to bring the World Series into your classroom? We’d love for you to share your ideas below.