Playing Games That Teach Kids about Latino History

Article excerpt

Teach a lesson about Latino History while your students are getting a fun workout. In Chicago Review Press's A Kid's Guide to Latino History: More than 50 Activities by Valerie Petrillo (August 2009, ISBN# 978-1-55652-771-5), you can find a lot of great ways to get young people excited about the history of Latino people and learn some new games at the same time.

From chapter five, "Puerto Ricans on the Mainland," there are rules and background information on stickball, a fun sport your students can play in the schoolyard. Get a game going during recess!

Play Stickball

For many years, stickball was the most popular sport on the streets of E1 Barrio [Spanish Harlem].

The game is very similar to baseball, with one exception: instead of using actual sports equipment, everyday items on the street are put to use. Manhole covers, parked cars, storm drains, fire hydrants or street lights become the bases. An old mop handle or broom handle serves as the bat. Actual balls were used, but they were usually made of a pink rubber that is soft enough for a person to catch without wearing a glove.

Stickball was played in neighborhood streets from the 1930s to the mid-1960s, before the streets became clogged with so many cars. If a car did come down the street while a game was being played, everyone ran to the curb and waited for it to pass. Then the game resumed.

These days, stickball is usually played in a park or a schoolyard. There are so many ways to play the game, and part of the fun is to make up the rules as you go along. Here is one traditional version; once you've mastered it, have fun making up your own game!

What You Need

* 4 or more people

* A large, safe area to play, such as a playground or paved schoolyard

* Chalk (optional)

* 4-foot-long stick or broom handle

* Tennis ball or rubber ball that bounces

What You Do

1. Divide into 2 teams of at least 2 people each

2. …