We entered the hall of newspaper history and began pulling out the drawers holding newspaper-like publications from as far back as the 1500s. We walked along, pulling out a few and reading the headlines, or amusing ourselves with reading the smaller stories that still made the front page, like someone, describing her run-away slave as "tolerably handsome", as though that was really a way to get him identified in the street and brought back to her...
A father and a young boy came up behind us, chatting away about the room. I was surprised because this did not seem to be a room that would attract a boy of that age. It was dark, the newsprint is small, old, and well, kind of boring. Yet the boy, maybe six or seven, was running along, asking to see papers from certain dates. It took me a minute to figure out what dates this little one was so excited about.
And then it hit me-
As they went along through the hall the father was teaching the son history by pulling out papers that corresponded to particular dates with baseball. They looked at the front page of a certain year to see who won a particular game, and gazed at the copies of Babe Ruth in print. The boy happily listened as his father explained what else was going on in history, and showed him the corresponding newspapers.
It was brilliant. What a great way to teach American history, or at least teach an understanding of change over time and past vs present. By taking a particular sport and tracking its headlines and changes while looking at what caused it to change, and what else was happening at the same time.
Makes me wonder what I can do with that idea in the classroom...