Casey at the Bat

Curriculum Guide

Casey at the Bat Curriculum Guide
Click on a subject to view its corresponding curriculum guide

Baseball is the All-American past time. It is almost synonymous with America itself and has been around in its current form for over a hundred and fifty years. It is a game formalized by Alexander Cartwright in the mid 1800's, a game which is based on the early 19th century English game of "rounders". Baseball has endured wars and players' strikes, and has always remained a vibrant part of the fabric of our country. To read more about the history of baseball, visit these websites: History of baseballOrigins of baseball.

​Find out about some of baseball's greatest players by exploring these links: Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson- the first African American major league baseball player.

During World War I, men were off fighting and baseball seemed doomed to have to wait till their return, prompting fears that the Major League parks would not financially survive. But instead, some baseball managers and wealthy businessmen decided to create a women's baseball league to keep momentum going and spirits high. This wonderful story is told in the movie "A League of their Own". Read more about the league at this website.  In addition to "A League of their Own", many other movies about baseball have been produced over the years. Follow these family-friendly suggestions and snuggle down for an evening of great stories.

Read about Ernest Lawrence Thayer at this website.

​Hear the first man to perform Casey at the Bat, De Wolf Hopper in this 1906 recording!


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Did you ever wonder how baseball players can hit so far with such a small piece of wood? Or what materials a baseball is made of? What about the reason you hear the sound of a ball being hit long after you see the batter swing, if you're sitting high up in the stadium seats? There is a great amount of science in the sport of baseball! Explore these links to learn more about the physics behind America's favorite sport:

Science of baseball- This site is fantastic! Test your reaction time to see if you'd be able to hit a 90mph fast ball, learn how to throw a curve ball, and explore stats on different players, among other things.

Innards of a baseball- Did you know the center of a baseball is cork? Visit this site to learn about how a baseball is made.

Light travels at around 300 million meters per second, and sound travels at approximately 340 meters per second. Use this information to explain why, from the stands at a baseball game, you can see the batter swing much earlier than you hear the sound he makes in hitting the ball.  

Athletes have to be very fit and healthy to play baseball. Baseball players are usually in their prime during only a short period of time in their lives. The best players take good care of their bodies by what they eat and how they exercise. Find out more about nutrition and activity with the following links.  

Fitness and exercise for kids- a lot of links here to explore ​

​Look around this website to find out more about getting and staying healthy.


Print out this United States map. Visit this website with all of the baseball teams and their cities. Plot each team on the map. Which states have multiple teams? Which states have none? Where is the one Canadian team located?

Language Arts

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  • Casey is filled with rich language that not only makes for an aesthetically-pleasing presentation, but also impresses the listener with wonderful vocabulary that can expand the comprehension of listeners of all ages. Use the following vocabulary words from Casey to add to your language arts lessons: patron, stricken, grim, melancholy, recoil, dell, doff, defiance, haughty, grandeur, charity, writhe, visage, tumult, spheroid, stern, fraud.


  • Dictionary work- have your children write each word and its definition. A good online dictionary for kids is this one, which also includes many word- and language-related games like the crossword creator and word search creator.


  • While the writer of Casey at the Bat, Ernest Lawrence Thayer, was not a poet, his famous and enduring piece captured the hearts of the country and is still a favorite today. What is it about poetry that taps into human emotion so fully?

  • Find books of poetry from your local library. Have a "poetry day" when each person flips through a separate book and chooses a favorite. All participating read their choice aloud and discuss each poem after it's read. Switch books and search again.


  • American poets to explore: Langston Hughes, Walt Whitman, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Frost, Shel Silverstein, Gelett Burgess, Emily Dickinson.


  • Here are some baseball picture books to explore at your local library or purchase for your home. (PreK+) 


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Norman Rockwell was known as a "people's" artist.  He became famous nationwide for his hundreds of covers for The Saturday Evening Post, an extremely popular magazine during the 1940s and 1950s. Embodying optimism, hope, and humor, his work is so intricately woven into the fabric of American life that it's hard to imagine many of our everyday life happenings without a Rockwell painting to match.  Norman Rockwell is best known for his detailed paintings of everyday life in America, many of which carry emotional significance to all Americans- subjects of war, childhood, family, and of course, baseball! Visit this site to learn more about this wonderful artist, or choose a few of these books from your local library: 


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  • There are a number of different types of bands, including marching band, concert bands, wind ensemble and brass band. The instrument families included in most bands are brass, woodwind, and percussion, though an orchestra (also a type of band) has string instruments as well. Explore the following websites to learn about the instruments in a band: NY Philharmonic and Marching band instruments.


  • Read this brief article to see how brass instruments make sound.


  • Brass instruments rely heavily on harmonics, along with valves or slides, to create pitches. Every musical note has within it not only the fundamental pitch (the one you recognize as the note being played) but also many other notes above that fundamental. The organization of those other notes, and their relative strengths or weaknesses, give each instrument its unique sound. Brass instruments, in addition, can play notes in the harmonic series (a set pattern of notes beginning with the fundamental) with the same fingerings or slide position. Bugles have no valves to press or slides to move, so a bugle's notes include only those in the harmonic series, beginning with the fundamental pitch "C".


  • To see for yourself harmonics in action, try this experiment. You will need a piano (not a keyboard). First, press down slowly and gently (NOT making a sound with the keys) the following notes in order going up and hold them: middle C, G, C, E, G. Keep them held down! Press the right pedal with your foot and hold it down. Now have someone else play firmly and quickly (loudly!) the C one octave below the middle C you have held down. You should be able to hear all of the notes you have held down ringing as well as the note your friend played! That shows how the bottom note played actually has many different pitches in it and when the other keys are held down, their strings are able to vibrate along with the bottom note! Pretty cool!​


  • Here is a great article that explains further the phenomenon of harmonics and how they relate to brass instruments.


  • There are many bugle calls used by the military to organize time and represent certain functions in the day, such as mealtimes, wake up and lights out.


  • A bugle is different than a modern day trumpet in that it has no valves and relies solely upon the layers embouchure (or lip placement and tension) to create different notes. To learn more about the bugle, visit this website.  Explore bugle call recordings on this website.


  • John Phillips Sousa, the "March King", was the composer of some of the most well-known American marches of all time, including "The Stars and Stripes Forever" and "The Washington Post March". Sousa actually conducted at the opening ceremonies of Yankee Stadium in 1923. Explore this website to learn more about Sousa and visit the following links to hear some of his marches,  Washington Post March and Semper Fidelis.


  • Get out a long pencil and conduct! The pattern of conducting, used in many marches, can be seen here. Learn more about being a marching band conductor at this website.


  • The genre of jazz is also a uniquely American invention. Jazz was born in the Southern United States, in African American communities, out of a combination of European and African traditions. Jazz has many different types and sub-genres such as swing, blues, and be-bop. You can learn more about jazz here Scholastic- History of Jazz.


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  • Study the following diagrams of baseball fields. Write down the differences in dimensions between the college/high school field and little league field.  college/professionallittle league.


  • Figure the perimeter of the baseball diamond of each (formula is P = 4S, where P is the perimeter and S is a side) and then figure the area (formula is S2, where S is a side).

  • Note the distance from the pitcher's mound to the grass line in each field diagram. If that distance is the radius of a circle, what would the circumference of that circle be? (formula- 2 π r) What about the area? (formula- π r2) In both formulas r = radius.  

  • Visit this site for information on the winners of the World Series for the last 100 years. Make a list of the ten teams that have won the most World Series. Then, using this website, create a graph of top World Series winners. Experiment with different graphs to see which one fits the information best. Print it out and share your graph with your family.

Lesson Plans Grades 2-4 & Grades 4-6

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LISTENING: Introducing the Sounds of the Symphony Orchestra

NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR MUSIC EDUCATION: the following are addressed in these lesson plans:

  • Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.

  • Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.

  • Understanding music in relation to history and culture.

  • Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

  • Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

  • Reading and notating music.

  • Moving to music

Casey at the Bat is perhaps America’s best-know poem. Written in 1888 by a young newspaper columnist, it has retained a place in the hearts and minds of Americans for over a century. Newspapers still can write “There was no joy in Mudville. . .” and all
readers know that a positive ending that everyone expected has not transpired, for, figuratively speaking, “Mighty Casey has struck out.”

This CD/MP3 can be utilized by teachers at all grade levels, with the teacher deciding which parts are age-appropriate for their students. Coordination with the language arts teacher’s poetry section is also appropriate, Gr. 4-8. "The Casey March a la Suzuki"
provides performance opportunities, especially for Suzuki students. "The Casey Tango" can be coordinated movement classes, recommended for Gr. 6. “How to Listen to Stories in Music” + “Flight of the Rabbit” demonstrate how music can tell a story in a way thats appropriate for all ages. The Casey March provides an opportunity for all ages to get up and move after listening to Track 1.

Grade Level: 2 - 4

Lesson One: Words & Music - Do They Match?

Demonstrate how music can tell a story. Reinforce the steady beat. Sing two songs that tell stories.

Activity One:
Students listen to “How to Listen to Stories in Music” (Track 4) + “Flight of the Rabbit” (Track 5).

Activity Two:
Teach the song “In a Cabin in a Wood.”

Activity Three:
Teach hand movements for the song:

In a cabin in a wood (trace a cabin outline with your index fingers)
A little old man by the window stood (trace a window outline)
Saw a rabbit hopping by (two fingers of one hand like rabbit ears, hopping)
Knocking at his door (knock with fist)
"Help me! Help me! Help me! " he said, (throw arms up for each ”help me")
"Or the hunter will shoot me dead!" (make a finger gun, point, and shoot)
"Come little rabbit, come inside, (welcome gesture with hands)
Safely you shall hide." (hug yourself)

Activity Three (for older students):
​Teach “The Ship Titanic” as an example of a song where the music is cheerful but the story is very sad.


Lesson Two: Improve Listening with More Information

Learn an American poem. Experience how music enhances words.

Activity One:
Listen to Casey at the Bat (Track 1) and discuss what happened in the poem to be sure that all students understand the plot.

Activity Two:
Re-read the poem slowly line by line. Explain vocabulary such as “multitude,” “melancholy,” etc.

Activity Three:
Listen to “About the Story” (Track 2). Coordination opportunity with language arts teacher’s “Author and Illustrator Biography” unit.

Activity Four: (time permitting)
Re-listen to Casey at the Bat (Track 1) again. Everyone likes to discover what they hear now that they have “educated ears.”

Activity Five:
End the class with The Casey March (Tr. 3) and invite everyone to march around the room. Good release after a listening class.


Lesson Three: The March Form

Introduce the march as a musical form. Musical form determines time signature and steady beat at specific tempos. Composers use structure when they write music.

Activity One:
Listen to the Casey March.

Activity Two:
Tempo discussion. Marches are always written and counted in 2. Discuss 2/4 time. Compare with 4/4 time, the most common time, and 3/4, waltz time.

Activity Three:
Select a song that the class knows and likes in 4/4 time. Have one half the class sing the song. Have the other half count the beats 1-2-3-4 aloud as they sing. To make it more challenging, have them sing the tune using the words “One, two, three, four.”

Activity Four:
Create index cards with pictures of instruments before class. Explain to the class that you are going to create your own fantasy band activity. Go through the band instruments and ask students to mime how each is played. Draw a diagram of the set-up for a marching band on the board. As you draw each section, have all students mime each instrument. Designate 3 corners of the room, one for woodwinds, one for brass, one for percussion. Shuffle and distribute the cards randomly to the students. (The drum
major card should be included, a special “winner” in the handout.) Ask students go to their corners and then group themselves by instrument; drum major stands in the center. Create the fantasy band, following the diagram on the board. When everyone is in position, march with Track 3, The Casey March.


Grade Level: 4 -6

​Lesson One: How Music Can Tell a Story


  • Become a critical and observant listener. Music has moods, just like people. The students will listen to how the mood of the music changes when the mood of the poem changes.

  • Demonstrate how music can tell a story. Link programmatic music with a text. How tempo (speed) and harmony (major and minor) can change a theme.

Activity One:
Students listen to “How to Listen to Stories in Music” (Track 4) + “Flight of the Rabbit” (Track 5).

Activity Two:
Listen to Casey at the Bat. Discuss any vocabulary they might not know. Invite students to retell the story to be certain that everyone understands what has happened.

Activity Three:
Listen to “About the Music” (Track 7). Allow it to flow into Track 8. Re--listening is very important. Ask the students what they heard the second time that they had not heard the first.


Lesson Two: Historical Perspective

Activity One:
Listen to Casey at the Bat (Track 1) and discuss what happened in the poem to be sure that all students understand the plot. Re-read the poem slowly line by line. Explain vocabulary such as “multitude,” “melancholy,” etc.

Activity Two:
Listen to “About the Story” (Track 2). Coordination opportunity with language arts teacher’s “Author and Illustrator Biography” unit and/or history teacher’s late 1800s Industrial Revolution unit. Ask whether they knew that baseball was that old. Ask if there was television when Hopper was giving his theatrical performances all across America. How did people listen to music in 1888? (Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1878 and the first commercial sales began the year the poem was written). Note, before the invention of the phonograph all music had to be performed by people, with the exception of the music box and the player piano.

Activity Three:
End the class with The Casey March (Tr. 3) and invite everyone to march around the room. Good release after a listening class.

Optional activity for older students and/or longer class period:
Select a group of students to act as the Greek chorus and read the poem in unison as other students pantomime the action.


Lesson Three: The March Form

Introduce the march as a musical form. Musical form determines time signature and steady beat at specific tempos. Composers use structure when they write music. 

Musical terms:
musical form, march, tempo, time signature, waltz

Activity One:
Listen to the Casey March.

Activity Two:
Tempo discussion. Marches are always written and counted in 2. Discuss 2/4 time. Compare with 4/4 time, the most common and 3/4, waltz time.

Activity Three:
Play an example of 3/4 time. Select a CD of your favorite waltz.

Activity Four:
Refer to pp. 18-19 of the Casey Activity Book, “Recipe for a March Sundae.” Play the individual themes on the piano. Have the class replicate them singing Dum, Dum Dah, Dum, or any syllable of your choice.

Activity Five:
Listen to the Casey March again. Try to identify themes A, B, the Bridge, and C.

Activity Six:
March around the room listening to the Casey March, Track 3. Remember, all bands begin with their left foot!


Lesson Four: Programmatic Music & Film

Symphonic music has been used by animators and film-makers for years to enhance the drama of the stories they are trying to tell.

Activity One:
Re-listen to “About the Music” (Track 7) and ask students what musical techniques they might employ if the situation was happy, sad, anxious, dangerous. Would it be fast or slow, major or minor, simple or complex? What instruments are associated with sounds in the real world? (flute=birds, timpani=thunder, French horns=the hunt, etc.)

Activity Two:
Select any of the following and listen to the music. Disney’s “Silly Symphonies,” “Willy, the Operatic Whale,” Bugs Bunny cartoons with Wagner “Kill the Rabbit,”and Rossini’s “Barber of Seville.” Ask if they knew that this was classical music written for opera.

Activity Three:
Play a recording of the music without the video. Then play the video without any sound. Ask if either separately is as good as when they are together. Ask how they would describe their emotional reaction to both (the cartoon was boring without the music, there was no suspense; the music didn’t mean anything to me without the pictures because I don’t know where it came from, in which opera
and/or where in the opera).

Activity Four:
Select a currently popular movie, such as Pirates in the Caribbean that has a powerful symphonic score. Play a dramatic scene where there is music (preferably in a part without talking); replay it without the sound track. Ask the class’s reaction. Play another scene with a contrasting type of music. Ask if they could describe the music. Did they notice the music? Was it different from the
first selection? How?

Assignment for older students:
Ask them to find a video at home that has music that they like. Have them select 2 minutes to play for the class. Ask them to write what instruments they can hear, the genre (orchestral, rock, jazz), and one sentence on what they think the music adds to the scene (increases tension, underscores humor, paints a spring scene, etc.)

Walt Disney and Chuck Jones through their animation introduced an entire generation, if not two, to the sounds of classical music. These are a delightful way to introduce orchestral and operatic sounds to classes. A good place to begin is:
What’s Opera, Doc? is a 1957 short animated film in which Elmer Fudd chases Bugs Bunny through a six—minute operatic production of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). Mel Blanc and Arthur Q. Bryan do the voices, including the singing. The short is also sometimes known in the vernacular as Kill the Wabbit after the line sung by Fudd to the tune of Ride of the Valkyries. In fact, this cartoon marks one of the few times that Fudd actually succeeds in outsmarting (or in this case, doing away with) Bugs Bunny. The cartoon ends with Fudd carrying Bugs and says, "What did you expect in opera? A happy ending?". 

It is regarded as Chuck Jones' masterpiece. In fact, many film critics, animation fans, and filmmakers (as well as Jones himself) consider this to be Warner Bros.’ greatest animation achievement of all the cartoons WB has released since 1930. It has also topped many Top Ten lists of the greatest animated cartoons of all time. What's Opera, Doc? required about 6 times as much work and expense as any of the other 6-minute cartoons his studio was producing at the time. During those 6 minutes, Jones lampoons: Disney's Fantasia, the contemporary style of ballet, Wagner's ponderous operatic style, and even​ the by-then cliche Bugs-and-Elmer formula.