April 15 marks Jackie Robinson Day, commemorating April 15, 1947—the day Robinson broke the baseball color barrier when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base. In 1997, MLB universally retired his uniform number, 42, and later established April 15 as an annual day to honor Jackie Robinson. On this day, players and managers can wear number 42. Learning about Jackie Robinson’s great accomplishments—on and off the baseball field—also provides valuable educational experiences for students.
Baseball-themed activities that will be a hit!
The National Baseball Hall of Fame provides lessons that are correlated to standards and can also be tied to a videoconference or visit:
- Geometry lessons: Examine how geometric concepts, such as circumference, area, perimeter, and diameter apply to baseball.
- Statistics lessons: Examine how mathematical concepts, such as addition, subtraction, fractions, and decimals apply to baseball.
- Economics lessons: Explore economic concepts related to baseball, such as ballpark prices and ballpark goods and services.
“Spinner Math” baseball game for grades 1–3. This math activity provides ideas and patterns for playing a “spinner baseball” game to practice simple addition, averages, and statistics.
Math word problems for grades 6+. This math unit provides daily practice in solving one word problem per day about baseball card collecting.
Reading and Language Arts Baseball Activities:
These downloadable activities from Evan-Moor incorporate the baseball theme, while presenting reading and language arts skill practice:
- Grades PreK–K: A baseball take-home story with follow-up activities.
- Grades 1–2: A two-page story about the determination of Jim Abbott, a one-handed baseball pitcher, and follow-up activities.
- Grades 1–3: Language arts activity in which students play a spelling game and “run” around chairs as bases.
- Grades 3–4: A two-page biographical sketch about Jackie Robinson and how he became the first black player in professional baseball. Includes four follow-up activity pages.
- Grades 4–6: A two-page biographical sketch on Jackie Robinson and follow-up comprehension and vocabulary activities.
- Grade 5: Nonfiction reading articles, written at three levels of difficulty, explore how to find batting averages for players.
Biographies of well-known baseball players are good choices for nonfiction reading practice. This sampling of suggested books will bring baseball nostalgia to your classroom:
- Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team, by Audrey Vernick, PreK–2
- Home Run: The Story of Babe Ruth, by Robert Burleigh, Grades 1–3
- Time For Kids: Jackie Robinson: Strong Inside and Out, Grades 2–4
- The Girl Who Struck Out Babe Ruth, by Jean L.S. Patrick, Grades 2–3
- Long Ball: The Legend and Lore of the Home Run, by Mark Stewart and Mike Kennedy, Grades 5 and up
- Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America, by Sharon Robinson, Grades 3–6
Science and Social Studies
For science and social studies lessons, the National Baseball Hall of Fame provides lessons such as exploring the forces of motion in the game of baseball, and geographical concepts in relation to baseball stadiums.
Other Classroom Ideas
Make your own trading cards: This interactive site from Read, Write, Think guides students in creating a trading card to profile a fictional character or real person. Students could also design their own trading card using a plain index card and a simple template.
Bulletin boards and more: This Pinterest site is full of baseball-related ideas for the classroom, including bulletin boards such as: “We All Pitch In” (classroom jobs), “Check Out the Line Up” (class photos); and “Catching Compliments” (classroom behavior.)
If you know of helpful resources or lesson ideas to bring America’s favorite pastime to the classroom, please share!
Theresa Wooler has more than 10 years’ experience in K–6 classrooms as a parent volunteer, has taught high school English, and is currently involved in education through Evan-Moor’s marketing communications team.