Whether you hold season tickets for your local professional major or minor league baseball team’s home games, or you plan to cheer on your own school students or the nearby college team, you are sitting on a gold mine of potential lesson plans for your students. Baseball not only offers fun with the family while snacking on hot dogs and Cracker Jacks; it also offers plenty of subtle lessons that directly tie in with important classroom subjects and can offer plenty of project ideas.
Keep Your Eye On the Ball and Your Mind On Your Lesson Plans
The only challenge you might encounter is diverting your attention from the thrills on the field. However, for love of the game and in the name of fun and easily engaging lessons, you will probably find it extremely gratifying, Ponder the following academic endeavors to see if they might work for your class, or if they simply spur you to come up with a few of your own this coming fall.
Many baseball fans seem almost as if they were born to perform all sorts of mathematical functions. Whether your students thrive on mathematical equations or simply struggle derive any pleasure from the subject at all, some baseball-centered lessons might help everyone. You may at least ignite some interest for those just trying to find their footing in math while seriously striking a chord for those truly passionate about batting numbers around.
Elementary School. The basic foundation and rules of baseball is largely made up of specific numbers of elements and may include the number of strikes, balls, outs, members on each team and innings. Show your young students a video you shoot during one or two of the games you attend that best exhibits those number-rich elements so they can observe and discuss all the numerical instances and their categories.
Middle School. Anyone even only vaguely familiar with baseball has probably heard of RBI and ERA, but they may not know quite what they mean, outside of having some numerical significance. Baseball is teeming with stat after stat, and middle school is a great time to introduce stats to your students. Collect some player statistics from your favorite team’s players. Ask your students to prepare a baseball card for one of the players that exhibits their various statistics. You can also ask students to describe how to calculate those numbers and why they are important to the game and how they enrich the experience for fans of the game.
High School. Explore the geometry of baseball with your students, discussing the standard size of the baseball diamond and why not all fields have the same precise dimensions in certain areas, such as the foul territory and the outfield fence. Ask students to find the various dimensions associated with the baseball field, such as the distance between home plate and second base and the diameter of the pitching mound.
While humans have held a fascination with ball-oriented games since ancient Greek times, and perhaps earlier in one setting or style or another, baseball began to emerge in the United States in the middle 19th century. Most likely inspired by cricket and rounders played by European settlers, the familiar version of baseball began to take shape during the Civil War and has taken its place in the hearts and minds of U.S. citizens as “America’s National Pastime” over the past two centuries. With the following lessons, you might help students understand the legend, lore and facts that surround the game.
Elementary School. Learning about the origins of the game can help students begin to understand how innately American the game is and what it means to our nation. Discuss how the North and South armies of the Civil War would play a game together “after a tough day of war” to further illustrate how long the game has held value in the U.S.
Middle School. Ask your class to explore the history of the different baseball leagues and how they emerged. Encourage students to include the many important leagues over the centuries, including leagues that focus on women and African-American players, as well as the minor leagues and the various majors, focusing on how they all developed and why. You might ask your students to research and discuss your team’s league status and history.
High School. Baseball history often takes on a folkloric or mythic place in the hearts of passionate fans. Americans who love baseball tend to crave the history of the game and can rattle off details from games they attended or watched on television decades ago. Ask students to investigate possible reasons for this bigger than life feeling of baseball. They might find reasons that include how closely fans associate the game with the age of the nation and how it tends to align with the nation’s growth. This lesson offers students a chance to understand the enduring love of this game that demands patience and close attention amid faster sports like baseball and contact games like football.
Elementary School. Discuss basic economics of attending a baseball game, such as the price of admission and the cost of hot dogs and sodas. Your young students can begin to learn the value admission and expensive concession items when you ask them how they might afford to go to a game if they had to buy tickets on their own instead of having their parents take them.
Middle School. While students may understand that it is expensive to go to baseball games — even for minor league franchises — they may not understand why. Design a project for students that allows them to research the reasons for the high cost of admission and concessions for loyal fans. Ask students to consider costs that include basic stadium upkeep and repairs and paying players and managers.
High School. Students learning that Major League Baseball (MLB) is, quite simply, big business will help them see the big picture better. While minor league farm teams offer a humbler experience for fans, the MLB pays steep costs for players and charges high ticket prices. Ask students to do some cost calculations for one of the MLB teams to arrive at the value of that particular franchise team. Ask students to look at each player’s salary, the operating cost of the team and the ball park, and the manager’s and coaching staff’s salaries.
Get Ready to Knock Your Lessons Out of the Park This Coming School Year
Sacrificing some of your own engagement and personal enjoyment during a few games this summer to formulate some unique lessons will pay off in dividends in the fall when you may encourage a few students to fall in love with the game while they learn some essential academic lessons in the process.