Discover the Jackie Robinson Ballpark: A Lightning Lesson from Teaching with Historic Places

Cover of Jackie Robinson lightning Lesson Plan (twhp)
Cover of Jackie Robinson lightning lesson plan (click to access PDF)

(Featured illustration courtesy Library of Congress)

Download Lesson Plan (PDF)


| Introduction
| Where it Fits Into the Curriculum (Objectives and Standards)
| Materials in the Lesson (Readings, Maps, Visual Evidence)
| Post-Lesson Activities
| More Resources
| About

How can sports and popular culture influence public opinion?

“Separate but equal” laws segregated society and culture in the United States for the first half of the 20th century. After World War II, the tide began to turn and one place where Americans saw a change was in professional sports. In 1946, African American baseball player and military veteran Jackie Robinson became the first black man to play on a white team in a segregated league. With support from his wife and community, he broke that “color barrier” during spring training in Daytona Beach, Florida, at the City Island Ballpark.

Robinson earned the title Rookie of the Year in 1947, played in the World Series in 1955, and was a passionate Civil Rights activist when his athletic career ended. The “City Island Ballpark” is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its association with him and renamed in his honor. This lesson explores Jackie Robinson’s life and the events of 1946, racism and “Jim Crow,” pop culture’s influence on a nation of laws, and the historic beachfront ballpark.

Where it Fits into the Curriculum

This lesson can be used in U.S. history, social studies, and other curricula that examine African American history and civil rights in the United States following World War II.

Time Period: Mid-20th Century, Civil Rights Era


1. To describe the effects of Jim Crow in the early 20th Century;
2. To explain how American society and law may be affected by popular culture, like sports;
3. To complete a creative arts project about the Civil Rights movement OR To identify a local African American historic site and research its significance.

National Standards for History, Social Studies, and Common Core

This lesson relates to the UCLA National Center for History in the Schools National History Standards:

US History Era 9, Standard 4A: The student understands the “Second Reconstruction” and its advancement of civil rights.

This lesson relates to Thematic Strands from the National Council for the Social Studies' National Standards:

Theme I: Culture
• Theme II: Time, Continuity, and Change
Theme III: People, Places, and Environments
Theme IV: Individual Development and Identity
Theme V: Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
Theme VI: Power, Authority, and Governance
Theme X: Civic Ideals and Practices

This lesson relates to the Common Core Standards in History/Social Studies (6-8, 9-10, 10-11):
Key Ideas and Details
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

See the Full Lesson (PDF) for details about how the these Standards and Themes relate to the lesson. Search our Lesson Plans by National History Standards or Lesson Plans by Social Studies Standards to identify lessons that correspond with the eras and themes you want to teach.

Materials Found in the Full Lesson

Accompanying Question Sets are paired with all materials in the Full Lesson (PDF).

• Map: Orients the students and encourages them to think about how place affects culture and society
Map 1: Aerial Photographic Map, Daytona Beach, Florida, March 13, 1958.
• Text: Primary and secondary source readings provide content and spark critical analysis.
Reading 1: Jim Crow, Jackie Robinson, and City Island Ballpark.
• Visual Evidence: Students critique and analyze visual evidence to tackle questions and support their own theories about the subject.
Map 1: Aerial Photographic Map, Daytona Beach, Florida, March 13, 1958. Illustration 1: Front Cover of Jackie Robinson Comic Book, 1951.
(Source: State University Libraries of Florida)
(Source: Library of Congress)
Photo 1: Daytona Cubs vs. Brevard County Manatees, at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona Beach, April 6, 2013.
(Source: Wikimedia Contributor, Gamweb)

"Putting it all Together" Activities

Download the Full Lesson (PDF) to access these post-lesson activities. These are intended to deepen your students' engagement with the topics and themes introduced in the lesson, and to help them develop essential skills.
  • Activity 1: Arts, Sports, and Civil Rights: Hold a Jackie Robinson Memorial Game
  • Activity 2: African American Heritage in Your State
More Resources Online
TwHP Lesson Plan, A Field of Dreams: The Jackie Robinson Ballpark (162)
Use this longer version with more materials to cover additional topics related to Jim Crow, Daytona Beach, and Jackie Robinson. Play ball! This lesson uses the Daytona Beach ballpark where Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier to explore racism and sports in American history. A Field of Dreams is free and available

Jackie Robinson Ballpark and Museum
A Daytona minor leagues team still plays at Jackie Robinson Ballpark, also known as Radiology Associates Field. Their website includes a history of the ballpark, photographs, tour and schedule information.
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress has an online exhibit on Baseball and Jackie Robinson, available at its website here. The exhibit includes a timeline and essays about baseball and segregation.
The National Archives and Records Administration
The National Archives reaches out to teachers with its excellent Digital Classroom web feature, which includes generic document worksheets for written documents, cartoons, photographs, maps, artifacts, posters, and sound recordings.
In addition to its Teaching with Documents "Beyond the Playing Field" lesson plan, which focuses on Jackie Robinson as a civil rights advocate after leaving baseball, there are additional lessons with documents about desegregation, including the landmark Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The FBI collected several files on Jackie Robinson in connection with his activity in the Civil Rights movement and also in relationship to baseball, including a personal threat if he helped the Dodgers win the pennant.
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Jackie Robinson’s feature page at the National Baseball Hall of Fame website includes video clips demonstrating his playing style, biographical information, a 1996 interview with Branch Rickey’s talent scout (Clyde Sukeforth), and text of Robinson’s induction speech from 1962 into the Hall of Fame.
Major League Baseball
Visit the MLB website to view the statistics of Jackie Robinson’s major league career.
The Jackie Robinson Foundation
Rachel Robinson established the Jackie Robinson Foundation in memory of her husband. Its mission is to advance higher education among underserved populations by providing scholarships, internships, and related opportunities. Visit the Foundation website to find out more.

About this lesson

This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration files for Jackie Robinson Ballpark, formerly known as Daytona City Island Ballpark, (with photos) and other sources. Jean West, an education consultant, wrote the longer, classic edition of this lesson in 2015 and it was redeveloped in the Lighting Lesson format in 2017. Discover the Jackie Robinson Ballpark: A Lightning Lesson from Teaching with Historic Places was edited by staff at the National Park Service Cultural Resources Office of Interpretation & Education. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into classrooms across the country.

Last updated: August 13, 2018


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