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Play Ball! Sports Books That Will Hit a Home Run

By Andrea J. Spillett on May 2, 2012
  • Grades: 1–2

A great way to keep your students engaged during the rest of the school year is to teach them about our country’s “national pastime,” baseball! Americans began playing baseball in the early 1800s, but  it wasn’t until 1845 that Alexander Cartwright invented the game that we know today. Get ready to batter up and share with your students these out-of-the-ballpark picture books and activities!







Written by Diane DeGroat
Illustrated by Shelley Rotner

One of the most adorable books that I have ever read to my students, Homer is a story about a boy and his dog who love and dream about baseball. What I find so unique about this book is that it tells the story of the dog’s dream, not the boy’s. The photos are of real dogs with cartoon- like uniforms, holding mitts, bats, and even hot dogs. In short, it includes everything you would find at a real baseball game, even the adoring fans. Your students will want to read this story again and again!


Begin this activity by reviewing what an adjective is. Let the students write down as many adjectives as they can just by looking at the cover of the book. In addition, use the "Mitt Response Page" and have your students write about which character they thought was having the dream and why. You'll have a doggone good time with this one!





Let’s Talk Baseball

Written by Janice Behrens

With real photographs of children playing baseball, Let’s Talk Baseball is the perfect choice for teaching your students about baseball. This nonfiction book focuses on essential vocabulary words and pronunciation of words your students will need in order to read, write, and, of course, play baseball.




To reinforce essential baseball vocabulary words, use this "Nonfiction Vocabulary Graphic Organizer" from Scholastic Printables. Students choose words from the book, write the definition, and draw a picture to go along with the word.





Players in Pigtails

Written by Shana Corey
Illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon

Your students will be enthralled by this story of following a dream. The book is about a young lady who prefers baseball to cooking, dancing, knitting, and pretty much everything else a girl was supposed to like in the 1940s. Inspired by the movie A League of Their Own, Players in Pigtails will not only inspire your students but also teach them about the first professional women’s baseball league in America’s history.



Baseball Ballerina

Written by Kathryn Cristaldi
Illustrated by Abby Carter

You and your students can have a lot of fun with the scenerio in Baseball Ballerina. The main character loves baseball. Her mom wants her to take ballet lessons. Needless to say, Mom wins. Without giving away the plot, embarrassment turns into triumph when the little girl saves a dance performance and feels like she just hit a home run.



An activity to go along with this book is "Grand Slam Conventions" from Scholastic Printables. You can use this graphic organizer to reinforce any convention. My students had capitalization as the topic. We looked through the book and discussed why some words were capitalized and why some weren’t. Differentiate this organizer to fit your students’ needs.




Also use these two stories, Players in Pigtails and Baseball Ballerina, to compare and contrast story elements by using a Venn diagram.


The Field Beyond the Outfield

Written and illustrated by Mark Teague

Baseball and flying monsters should be enough to entice your students to listen to this story. Forced into playing baseball by his parents, Ludlow is given a position in the outfield. All on his own out there, the main character’s imagination leads him to another baseball game where he is given the chance to bat and ends up hitting a home run. Of course all with the help of a flying monster!



Let your students explore creative writing by responding to what they would do if a flying monster took them off to its baseball game. Use the "Baseball Response Page" to write and share answers. This story is also a good one for having the students predict what they think is going to happen next.






Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Performed by Carly Simon
Written by Jack Norworth
Illustrated by Amiko Hirao

Did you know the song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was actually written about a girl who loved baseball? I didn’t until my class and I listened to the story and read about the song’s history. I am really enjoying the way so many famous musicians are lending their voices to children’s literature, and Take Me Out to the Ballgame is no exception. Carly Simon performs this most beloved song and Amiko Hirao provides colorful illustrations that bring the story to life. Your students are sure to be singing along to Jack Norworth’s most famous lyrics, and the CD is included at the back of the book. Sorry, you’ll have to bring your own Cracker Jacks!


An activity to integrate with this book is "Baseball Buddies." I came across it at Teachers Pay Teachers. It is too adorable, as you can see from the picture. Our Big Friends came and helped us with the art project. Included in the activity are directions for prepping materials and writing prompts such as "I love baseball because . . . " or "My favorite team is . . . " It was the best $2.00 I have ever spent! Another activity to reinforce short vowels, long vowels, and rhyming words is to make a copy of the lyrics to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" for each student. Have the students follow the directions at the top of the page.


An added freebie from Scholastic Printables, "Baseball Activities," will bring this post to its 9th inning. I'm sure your students will enjoy this darling poem about baseball and a fun baseball bingo game!

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