Thursday Craft Program – Baseball

I never was much of a sports person as a kid. Or a teen. Or an adult. I was a swimmer and a flag twirler, but that about did it for me. And I never could figure out why people would want to sit around and watch other people play sports. Plus, I think professional athletes are horrifically overpaid and refuse to support that. So imagine my surprise when I ended up attending a minor league baseball game a decade or so ago and found that I really, really enjoyed it! Seriously. I love everything about it! Well, except the creepy mascot, but that’s beside the point. Attending a minor league baseball game has become a tradition for me and the hubby, so I thought I would play (pun intended) off this for our weekly craft.

There are some fun baseball books out there, and I had trouble narrowing it down to my favorites. But here are a few.

  • First up was Curious George Plays Baseball by Margret Rey, a cute little story with illustrations that appear to be taken directly from the old films.
  • Next was Let’s Play Baseball! by Charles Smith, part of the Super Sturdy Picture Book series. I’ve enjoyed all of this series, and this was no exception.
  • A pleasant little surprise was The Baseball Counting Book by Barbara McGrath. It managed to give a very solid overview of the game, its rules, and its history, all in a minimum of text and with lovely illustrations.
  • Finally, my favorite on the list, Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki tells the story of playing baseball in Japanese internment camps. It’s a little long, but so worth it, since it exposes kids, in a gentle way, to a very big mistake our country made during WWII.

The craft was a simple one, but it did take a bit of work. We made bracelets out of old baseballs!

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Before we even started, I used a sharp utility blade to cut around the stitching on some used leather baseballs that I was able to obtain. This isn’t difficult for adult hands, but it does require care, and I wouldn’t recommend letting kids do this part.

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Next, we all worked together to pull apart the baseballs. We were all a little surprised at how they looked inside. I’m not sure what I expected, but layers of yarn and thread wasn’t it! The kids thought this was absolutely fascinating. Being able to take things apart is so very important for kids, but letting them do it can be hard. This was a perfect compromise.

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We cut each set of stitches into two pieces, since there’s enough length on each ball to make two bracelets.

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I let each kid pick their piece, then the kids worked to trim the extra leather away from the laces. The closer it is trimmed (without cutting through any of the stitches or stitch holes) the more flexible the bracelet will be.

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Once it was trimmed to satisfaction, the kids started pulling the stitches out on each end until the bracelet was the right length.  Then we trimmed off the excess leather, leaving the string intact.

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From there, it was just a matter of decorating the leather with permanent markers and tying on the bracelet. A loose knot works just fine, although some of the kids had enough extra string that we were able to make a bow, which was fun.

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All that was left was to show off their creations to each other and for the camera. Another successful and incredibly fun craft afternoon. Best. Job. Ever.

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