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summer sports: activity ideas

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  1. The Olympics: the Ultimate Summer Sports Event

    Grade Level: 6-9
    Subjects: Social Studies; Reading & Language Arts

    Every four years, the world watches the summer Olympic Games. Ask students what they know about the Olympics. Discuss with students why they are held, how they originated, when they are held, the participants, the events, and the medals.

    For a homework assignment, ask students to write a research paper about how sports and politics have melded together and affected the Olympic Games. Examples include the Berlin games in 1936 and 1972, the Moscow games in 1980, and the Los Angeles games in 1984.

    Online Resources

    Sports Almanac

    The Official Olympic Website

    Olympics Through Time

    NewsHour: Going for the Gold

    Politics and the Summer Olympics

    Print Resources

    The Olympics: A History of the Modern Games by Allen Guttmann
    Power, Politics, and the Olympic Games by Alfred Erich Senn
    Elympics: Poems by X. J. Kennedy and Percy Graham

    More Recommended Resources

  2. Classroom Olympics

    Grade Level: 3-7
    Subjects: Math; Social Studies; Reading & Language Arts; Science & Technology; Health & Fitness

    Materials and Equipment: computer, graphing software, paper or plastic plates, tape, measuring tape, triple beam balance, bowl of marbles, paper cups, paper, pencil, cotton balls, rubber bands, and certificates for winners.

    In this activity students will estimate and accurately measure short distances, learn about summer Olympic style sports, and appreciate the history of the Olympics.

    Open this lesson with photos and information of summer Olympic events and the athletes who have participated. Show photos of an Olympic event such as someone throwing a discus. Ask students if anyone recognizes what is happening in the picture. Use the picture to lead to a discussion focusing on the Summer Olympics and summer sports.

    Set up stations outside or in a classroom for each of the various activities. Students will rotate through the centers to participate in summer Olympic style activities that have been adapted as safe alternates to the actual events. Invite parents to help with each center or station and to help oversee as students estimate and measure. Provide students with a worksheet that they can use to record their estimates and actual measuring. Gold, bronze, and silver certificates can be awarded upon completion of all events. Winners should be determined from their correct estimations, as well as, being the best in events.

    Station 1: "Track and Field Paper Plate Discus Throw"
    Ask students to record their estimation of how far that they can throw their paper plate "discus." Have them stand at a designated point marked with tape and throw the discus. They will then use a tape measure to measure the actual length. Students should record their estimation and their actual measurement.

    Station 2: "Cotton Ball Archery"
    Students will shoot a cotton ball from a rubber band. After estimating how far it will go, instruct students to accurately measure the distance the cotton ball flew.

    Station 3: "Track and Field Long Jump"
    Students will estimate how far they can jump. Students should stand begin a designated point marked with tape and will jump as far as possible. They will then measure their jump. Students should record both their estimation and their distance jumped.

    Station 4: "Weightlifting Event"
    Students will use the triple beam balances to measure. Ask them to first estimate what a handful of marbles will weigh. They will record their estimation and measure the paper cup being used. They should then reach in a container and pick up a handful of marbles, which they will place in the paper cup that has been weighed. Students should then measure the cup and marbles and subtract the weight of the cup from the total weight. They will record the weight of the marbles.

    Station 5: "Straw Javelin Throw"
    Students will use straws as javelins. First introduce students to the term, javelin, then explain how those participating in this sport might grip the javelin, position themselves, throw and release. Have students estimate how far that they might throw, throw their straw, and then measure the distance it was thrown.

    As follow up activities, students will copy their estimations and measurements to an Excel spreadsheet and graph those figures. Students should write a paragraph explaining the conclusions that can be drawn from the graphs.

    Online Resources

    Dragonfly TV

    In the Mix: Get in the Game!

    Print Resources

    The Science of Sports by Sharon L. Blanding and John J. Monteleone
    The Physics of Baseball by Robert Kemp Adair

    More Recommended Resources

  3. Safe!

    Grade Level: 4-8
    Subjects: Reading & Langauge Arts; The Arts; Science & Technology; Health & Fitness

    Materials and Equipment: computer, paper, pencil, washcloth, cotton ball, permanent markers, rubber band, ribbon.

    In this activity students will learn about recognizing, treating, and preventing the most common summer sports injuries.

    First, have a local nurse or doctor speak to the students about sports medicine and common sports injuries. Follow up the visit with a classroom discussion of the impact of medical issues to sports. Use the American Experience: "Partners of the Heart" Web site to help with the discussion.

    Show photos of a skeleton and discuss with students what bones, muscles, tissues, and organs might be at risk during certain sports. Discuss with the students the significance of medical research for sports. Discuss preventive measures to avoid sports injuries. Have students identify some voluntary and involuntary muscles of the body. Stress identification of those muscles that one might use in sports. Have students discuss the way muscles work by contraction and expansion. Discuss how bones and muscles work together. Have students discuss the proper procedure for treating torn muscles and broken bones.

    Have students discuss the importance of good health, nutrition, and exercise in preparation for playing sports. Have the students create a good health plan for a softball or baseball player. Prepare a poster, bulletin board, or display to advocate details for being a safe and healthy sports participant.

    Online Resources

    American College of Sports Medicine

    Sports Injuries

    NOVA: Survivor M.D.

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  4. Exercise Trends

    Grade Level: 3-6
    Subjects: Math

    In this activity, students will: read information from a chart and calculate percentage of change. The chart below shows the millions of people participating in selected exercising methods.

    Participation in Exercise in Millions
    Year 1985 1990 1995 1996 1997
    Exercise Walking 41.5 71.4 70.3 73.3 76.3
    Swimming Laps 73.3 67.5 61.5> 60.2 59.5
    Bicycle Riding 50.7 55.3 56.3 53.3 45.1
    Exercise with Equipment 32.1 35.3 44.3 47.8 47.9
    Running/Jogging 26.3 23.8 20.6 22.2 21.7
    Aerobic Exercising 23.9 23.3 23.1 24.1 26.3
    Inline Skating 0 3.6 23.9 25.5 26.6

    Ask students to:

    1. Identify any types of exercise that have been continuously losing participants over the years shown in the graph.

    Solution: Swimming is the only exercise that shows a continual decline in participants over the time of the chart.

    2. Identify any types of exercise that seem to have peaked and then lost favor.

    Solution: Bicycling appears to have increased in participation from 1985 until a peak in 1995, after which it appears to be losing participants.

    3. Identify any types of exercise that appear to have started with a lot of people, lost participants, and then regained them.

    Solution: The most dramatic is aerobic exercise. It began high and declined until 1995, after which the number of participants began to increase again. Running/Jogging began high and declined until 1995, it increased in 1996, but lost participants again in 1997. It did, however, end higher than the low in 1995.

    4. Determine the percentage increase in participation in aerobic exercise from 1995 to 1996.

    Solution: The increase was from 23.1 million to 24.1 million participants, for a total increase of 1 million participants. 1 23.1 = 0.0433 or an increase of 4.33%

    5. Determine the percentage decrease in the number of people using swimming as exercise from 1995 to 1997.

    Solution: The decrease was from 61.5 million to 59.5 million, for a total decrease of 2 million participants. 2 61.5 = 0.0325 or a decrease of 3.25%

    More Recommended Resources

  5. Summer Sports Poetry

    Grade Level: 4-8
    Subjects: Reading & Language Arts; The Arts

    In this lesson students will create an illustrated poem after reading and enjoying sports poems.

    Play or sing the favorite song of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Discuss why sports appeal to the majority of people. Discuss familiar songs, poems, and art works associated with a sports theme. Read several poems about sports to the class.

    Use the following Web sites to find appropriate poems:

    Discuss the rhyming pattern of these poems. Read the poem, "Casey at the Bat."

    Afterwards, discuss the poem. Who was Casey? What feelings and memories does the poem evoke? Why is this poem timeless? Identify the characters in the poem; use your imagination to describe the person and what they were like.

    Discuss writing poetry with students. Use the following PBS Web site as a guide for writing poetry: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/poetry.

    Have students write a poem about their favorite summer sport, sporting event, or athlete.

    More Recommended Resources

  6. Baseball: A Hit With Many

    Grade Level: 6-9
    Subject: Social Studies; Reading & Language Arts

    Introduce the learning activities of this lesson, by showing segments of the Ken Burn's film, Baseball. The story of baseball is one of heroes: Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Satchel Paige, Casey Stengel, Hank Aaron, Joe Dimaggio, Yogi Berra, and many others. While studying baseball, students will learn about some of its icons and their impact on baseball and the nation's history.

    Discuss the history of baseball. Form small groups of three to five students. Provide each group of students with a baseball hero. Students should research their figure and provide the following information: date and place of birth, team connection, contribution to baseball, facts about the person, and records held (if any).

    After the class shares the biographies of these baseball icons, instruct them to write a paragraph entitled "Like _____," filling in the blank with a current or past sports figure that they would most liek to emulate. Have students explain why they see this particular sports figure as a hero or role model.

    Online Resources

    National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

    American Experience: "Joe DiMaggio"

    Print Resources

    America at Bat: Baseball Stuff & Stories by Paul Rosenthal
    Baseball: An Illustrated History by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns
    Coming Home: A Story Of Josh Gibson, Baseball's Greatest Home Run Hitter by Nanette Mellage and Cornelius Van Wright
    Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball by Bob Costas

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  7. How Much Money Do Baseball Players Make?

    Grade Level: 6-9
    Subject: Math; Social Studies

    Today, the average player salary in Major League Baseball. Even ball players who never make the All-Star squad are multi-millionaires. Many fans believe the players are overpaid and have turned the national pastime into a business. Others argue that salaries reflect a player's market worth in the lucrative business of professional baseball.

    Using the chart available at the Baseball Archive, ask students to create a graph plotting the rise of baseball's growing salaries from 1967 to 1997.

    When asked to find an average, most people calculate the "mean." When calculating, for example, the "mean" salary of a specific team, you would add all the data values (individual salaries) and then divide that total by the number of entries (or players). Using data available at USA Today's Baseball Salaries database, ask students to calculate the mean salary for their favorite baseball teams.

    Online Resources

    Newshour with Jim Lehrer: Play Ball!

    Newshour Extra: Baseball's Money Woes

    ESPN: Highest Baseball Salaries

    Print Resources

    The Money Pitch: Baseball Free Agency and Salary Arbitration

    More Recommended Resources

  8. Play Ball!

    Grade Level: 6-9
    Subject: Reading & Language Arts

    Students will increase their knowledge of sports and of written sports articles by participating in a newspaper sport scavenger hunt. Students will look for specific items to be found within a specific designated time limit.

    The teacher will display a sports column, and prompt students to brainstorm information that might be found on this page. Discuss how writing sports columns might be different or the same as other articles written for the papers.

    Print those things to be found on a direction sheet that will be given to a group of students. Provide each group of students a direction sheet turned face over. Provide each group of students with a sports column from a newspaper. Instruct students that they have only forty-five minutes to locate a given ten items. Tell students, "Ready, Set, and Go!" Students will turn over their direction sheet and begin to locate the needed items. Have students or the teams of students cut out the items and paste those on an answer sheet labeling items with numbers.

    Students will find:

    • a team that played in another town
    • a picture of a team, manager, or umpire
    • the name of a male or female player
    • a name of a position of a player such as pitcher, quarterback, catcher, etc.
    • a score
    • an adverb from a sports article
    • the headline of a sports article
    • the author of a sports article
    • a logo of a team
    • the picture or name of a piece of sports equipment

    When a group of students finish, they should hold up their hands. The first group finished or the one having the most finished at the time limit is declared the winner. (Students could use a computer and their local paper's or a national paper's sports Web site for the scavenger hunt.)

    As a concluding activity, have students write their own article for a sports page that might appear in a local or school newspaper. Display the articles in the classroom.

    Online Resources

    The Sporting News (baseball statistics)

    USA Today Sports Page

    The Washington Post Sports Page

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  9. Batter Up!: Calculating Batting Averages

    Grade Level: 9-12
    Subject: Math

    A baseball player's batting average is calculated by the player's total number of hits divided by the total number of at-bats. The total at-bats does not include the times a player hits a sacrifice fly, walks, or gets hit by a pitch.

    Using the following numbers, which player -- Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs, or Mike Piazza of the New York Mets -- has the best batting average?

    Jeter has 75 at-bats, 26 singles, 7 doubles, and 1 home run.
    Sosa has 55 at-bats, 9 singles, 0 doubles, 3 triples, and 8 home runs.
    Piazza has 69 at-bats, 15 singles, 4 doubles, 0 triples, and 9 home runs.

    1. What is Jeter's batting average?
    2. What is Sosa's batting average?
    3. What is Piazza's batting average?

    Of these three, Jeter has the best batting average, then Piazza then Sosa. The average major league baseball player has a batting average of about .265.

    Suppose a player gets to bat 400 times in a season (ignoring walks and sacrifice flies).

    1. Out of the 400 at-bats, how many times would you expect the player to get a hit?
    2. Out of the 400 at-bats, how many times would you expect the player to get out?
    3. In 10 at bats, how many times would the average player make an out?

    Print Resources

    The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball 2003 by David and Michael Left
    Curve Ball: Baseball, Statistics, and the Role of Chance in the Game by Jim Albert and Jay Bennett

    More Recommended Resources

Published: May 2003