Teach PA History
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Baseball Cards
What to Know
Teaching Time
three 40-minute class periods
Grade Level
Elementary School
  • Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening
  • Health and Physical Education
  • History
Historical Period
  • The Emergence of Modern Pennsylvania - 1901-1928
  • The Great Depression and World War II - 1929-1945
  • Post-WWII Pennsylvania - 1946-1974
  • Contemporary Pennsylvania - 1975 to Present
This elementary-level lesson looks at the uses of baseball cards over time–from childhood games to collector's items to marketing tools for companies. Students use primary sources (1910 Honus Wagner baseball card and 1912 news article) to examine ethical implications in using baseball cards to market cigarette products to a younger people, and then write a persuasive letter arguing for the removal of baseball cards from cigarette packages.


Students will: 1. reflect on a short story that describes how children used baseball cards in the 1930s. 2. interpret the implications of Honus Wagner and his decision to withdraw his baseball card from sales in 1910. 3. express their understanding of the implications of Wagner's decision by writing a persuasive article.

Standards Alignment

  • Health, Safety and Physical Education

    10.1.6. D. Explain factors that influence childhood and adolescent drug use.

  • Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

    1.6.5. A. Listen to others.
    1.6.5. B. Listen to a selection of literature (fiction and/or nonfiction).
    1.6.5. C. Speak using skills appropriate to formal speech situations.
    1.6.5. D. Contribute to discussions.
    1.6.5. E. Participate in small and large group discussions and presentations.

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