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January 22, 2014 Hit a Home Run: In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson By Lindsey Petlak
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    Kick off Chinese New Year and Black History Month with the novel, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. Hit a home run with Common Core State Standards extensions and free resources!


    About the Book

    Using Scholastic’s fabulous Book Wizard, I found a great synopsis of In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. Check out the summary and general book information before you get started!

    First Base: Build Prior Background Knowledge

    This historical fiction novel involves many important concepts that will most likely require building background knowledge in order to best understand the text. As usual, Scholastic has your back and provides a plethora of resources to help your students “get to first base” as you embark on this piece of literature.

    Second Base: A Novel Study in Identity

    This novel was the central component to our CCSS literature study of the theme of “Identity.” Check out my previous post featuring the numerous activities we completed as a class to help us understand not only our own identities, but also the central theme of identity in literature. Doing so is integral to maximizing the potential of this novel!

    Third Base: Class Favorites

    After completing our study of the novel, these are a few of our class’ favorite activities. Try them with your students for fun activities with meaningful impact.

    Character Trading Cards: After lessons on character traits and identity, and once students have a good understanding of the characters in the novel, engage them in a sports-themed activity from ReadWriteThink. Students use an online trading card creator to demonstrate their understanding of character identity. This ties nicely to the story since Jackie Robinson is a main character, but students can certainly make a trading card for young Chinese American Bandit, too!


    Chinese Zodiac Animals: Introduce students to Chinese Zodiac animals and apply the Zodiac characteristics in connection with students and the main characters of the novel. Have students think about whether their Zodiac animal characteristics align with their personal traits. Then, have them think about the character traits of Jackie Robinson and Bandit. With which animals do their traits most closely align?

    Download these FREE Zodiac Animal bookmarks and other Zodiac activities from Activity Village.


    Compare & Contrast:  We explored several compare/contrast scenarios throughout our study of this text. Try these Venn diagrams with your class to examine character traits and text-to-text connections.

    • Character comparison of Bandit and Jackie Robinson

    • Character comparison of Bandit and student

    • Character comparison of Jackie Robinson and student

    • I highly recommend pairing the picture book, Baseball Saved Us, with your study of In The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. The two texts have so many similar themes (baseball, prejudice, discrimination, immigration, character changes, and identity). Complete a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the two texts and characters within.

    Hit a Homerun: Scholastic Extension Activities

    Students engage in a play about Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers that shows the racial prejudice faced by the first black player in Major League Baseball.


    Don't forget that the deadline for entering Scholastic's Jackie Robinson Breaking Barriers essay contest is March 14!

    Common Core Connections: Anchor Standards

    While these activities were super fun, their primary purpose was to engage students in learning, practicing, and applying CCSS for ELA. Below you will see correlated CCSS for ELA Anchor Standards for these activities.

    Key Ideas and Details:

    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

    Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

    Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently..

    Speaking & Listening — Comprehension and Collaboration:

    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

    Speaking & Listening — Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

    Conventions of Standard English:

    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.


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