Superstitions

Superstitions
Grace Coolidge: Sports and Popular Culture

Skill: Middle School
Time Required:


Standards Compliance
NCSS Strand 1
Culture
NCTE Standard 7
Students conduct research by generating ideas, questions, and problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data.
NCSS Strand 3
People, Places, and Environments
ISTE Standard 6
Technology problem-solving and decision-making tools

Introduction:

Though Calvin Coolidge was a very controlling husband, in one arena Grace Coolidge reigned – the baseball stadium.  Grace and Calvin Coolidge attended baseball games because Grace, not Calvin was a baseball fan, particularly a fan of the Boston Red Sox.  In an ornately lettered appreciation the Boston Red Sox and Washington Senators named Grace Coolidge the “First Lady of the Land, First Land of Baseball.”  As an avid Red Sox fan she surely was aware of the Curse of the Bambino, perhaps the most famous sports superstition.

Objectives:

In this lesson, student will examine superstitions and their histories.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet and or access to a public library.

Procedures:

Many superstitions are tied to religious beliefs.  For this reason, prior to this lesson, teachers may want to get permission from parents.
 
Explain to students that superstitions are beliefs, not founded in knowledge or reason, of a ominous thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, etc. and ask them if they know of any superstitions.  However, though often considered unreasonable, the history behind a superstition can give it a sense of reasonableness.  For example, the Red Sox’s Curse of the Bambino is one of the most famous sports superstitions and also has a remarkable history.  Share with students the story of the Curse of the Bambino.
 
Notify the class that they are going to write a children’s book about superstitions.  Each student in the class is responsible for finding a superstition, researching the history behind the superstition, and finding or creating images related to the superstition and history.  Then they are to compile this information on one page.
 
Bind all pages by putting paper hole punches in each page and tying them together with yarn or string.

Extending the Lesson:

To extend this lesson, share with students that some superstitions are personal ones or tied to  family. When a family shares a superstition it can become a family tradition.  If you have a family tradition/superstition, share it with the class.  Then ask each student to share their family traditions and assign them the task of going home and finding the history behind it.
 
Compile a children’s book of the class’s family traditions/superstitions much like the process used above.

Sources & Resources:

Websites:
 
Old Superstitions

 
Superstitions and Folklore 
 

Books: 
  
   Collins, Harry.  101 American Superstitions:Understanding Language and Culture through Superstitions.  Lincolnwood: Passport Books, 1998. 
  
   De Lys, Claudia.  8,414 Strange and Fascinating Superstitions.  Victoria: Castle Books, 1948. 
  
   Opie, Iona (ed.) and Tatem, Moira.  A Dictionary of Superstitions.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. 
  
   Pickering, David.  Cassell’s Dictionary of Superstitions. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2002. 
  
   Radford, E., Radford, M. A., and Hole, Christine.  The Encyclopedia of Superstitions.  New York: Metrobooks, 2002. 
  
   Waring, Philippa.  Dictionary of Omens and Superstitions.  London: Souvenir Press, 1998.
 
Credits: This lesson was written by Debra L. Clark, Kent State University