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BLAST Elementary
Testing the Ice: A True Story about Jackie Robinson

Testing the Ice: A True Story about Jackie Robinson
Written by Sharon Robinson

Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

As a testament to his courage, Jackie Robinson's daughter shares memories of him, from his baseball career to the day he tests the ice for her, her brothers, and their friends


Open-Ended Questions

These questions can be used during an interactive read aloud to engage student interest.

  • What does it mean to take something for granted? (page 9)
  • Why is it so important that Jackie is able to control his temper? (page 13)
  • Why wouldn't Jackie go swimming? (page 22)
  • What do you think they are going to ask? (page 23)
  • Why is he so brave? How is Jackie's courage in baseball similar to the courage he showed on the ice? (page 38)

Vocabulary Words

  • Startle
  • Reluctant


Baseball Geometry

Using baseball to discuss geometry is a great way to make a connection between geometric shapes and real world examples. Start out by showing the students a photograph of PNC Park (aerial view). Challenge them to name all of the shapes they see. Examples: bases form a diamond, tops of the lights are square, pitchers mound is a circle, etc. As the students name a shape, use a large sheet of paper to create a class diagram. Along one side of the paper, make a list of all the shapes that have been said. You can then use the diagram and four magnets to play a game. Start with the first shape on the list. Challenge the students to think of the properties of that shape. Go around the room and ask each student to give you one property. If the student does, they come up to the diagram and move their magnet from home base to first, then stay at the front of the room. If the next student can name a different property, student one moves the magnet to second base, and student two moves to first. If the student can't name a property it counts as an out. Once one magnet reaches home, that student sits down and the team gets a point. See how many points the class can get for each shape!

Robinson Stands For...

Jackie Robinson had a very strong character. Get your students thinking about words to describe the way he acted and the things he did. Prepare large letters that spell out "ROBINSON." Let the students work in groups of 3-4. Each group will get a letter and it will be their job to think of one good word that starts with that letter to describe Jackie Robinson. Example: S-Strong. They will write that words at the top of their letter. Using the rest of the space in their letter, the students can draw pictures or write words and sentences to explain why they chose that word. Why does that word describe Jackie Robinson? Once all of the letters are finished, the students can share with the class and the letters can be hung in the classroom.



Journal Questions

  • Why is Jackie Robinson a hero to so many people?
  • Who is a hero that you admire? Why?

Extending Books


I Never Had it Made: An Autobiography
by Jackie Robinson as told to Alfred Duckett

Before Ken Griffey Jr., before Reggie Jackson, before Hank Aaron, baseball's celebrated stars had one undeniable trait in common: they were all white. In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke that barrier, changing the world of sports forever.



Jackie's Bat
Written by Marybeth Lorbiecki

Illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Joey, the batboy for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, learns a hard lesson about respect for people of different races after Jackie Robinson joins the team.


Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America
by Sharon Robinson

Promises to Keep is a biography of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in the major leagues, as told by his daughter.