Besides St. Patrick’s Day, March is known for basketball. March Madness is a high-intensity, winner takes all tournament of 68 NCAA men’s basketball teams. It fills the void of sports since football has ended and baseball hasn’t begun yet therefore the nation rallies around this single elimination tournament. You may think that since this tournament is huge in office pools and sports betting arenas that kids have no part in it. Check out these fun and educational options to get your kids involved in the fun and excitement of March Madness!
Many of these are great for homeschooling or in the classroom but simple enough to do with your kiddos and offer reinforcement of educational skills. Others are totally just for fun.
Can the Wildcats defeat the Spartans? Who would win in a Ram versus Gator match up? Print out a pre-made mascot bracket after the teams are set and have the kids make their choices. There is a chance you might learn something as well; do you know what a WuShock or a Billiken is?
Search the internet and you are likely to find some obscure trivia questions. We like this one because it focuses on well-known schools, a bit of state history and what we think is common knowledge. Probably best suited for older kids but the littles would have fun guessing.
Every team needs a mascot to cheer them on from the sidelines. Check out the easy to follow videos from Laura Salee. She has animals, monsters and fictional characters to help inspire your little designer.
Play Bingo while watching the games and spotting the things on your card or by having someone call out the items and putting marks on the card.
Research basketball history
Who invented basketball? How many rules did the first game have? When and where was the first game played? Which US College was the first to have a team? Do you know why certain numbers are banned from NCAA jerseys? There a so many fun facts to learn about one of America’s favorite pastimes.
Set up a bucket or deep bowl and take your shot. Chair or counter height works great for littles. Shoot cotton balls or small nerf balls. See who can make a shot from the greatest distance.
Wad up sheets of paper and shoot into trash cans. Play a game of H-O-R-S-E or “Around the World”. Don’t forget to yell “Kobe” when you shoot.
Seems easy enough, right? Grab an even number of players and set up “baskets” at each end of the room. Teammates pass the balloon back and forth to each other, while keeping it away from the opposing team, and shooting baskets.
68 teams can be quite intimidating for youngsters. Kids may find it more interesting and easier to complete a Mini Bracket with just 16 teams.
Bracket Other Things
Who said the only thing you could bracket is basketball. Discover what your kid’s favorite book, show, puzzle, game, stuffie, or toy is. Randomly select the starting positions and then let the kids pick the winner. Just like the NCAA bracket the list will get smaller and smaller until there is just one left.
Pick a Winner
The majority of folks who participate in bracket challenges guess winners so why not use alternative ways to make your selections. Mascot vs mascot; would the Fighting Irish beat the Blue Devils? State vs State; would the team from Kentucky beat the team from Alabama? Any chance the undefeated team will win; let the season’s win-loss ratio decide for you.
These little plastic beads seem to be everywhere lately. Stock up on orange and black beads to create a basketball. Kids will be building their fine motor skills while designing key chains, coasters, or a pendant for a necklace.
Use a blown up balloon as a form and start building layers with watered down glue and newspaper. Once everything dries, pop the balloon and paint your ball. For an added bonus, turn it into a piñata filled with snacks, sweets, and little toys.
with word searches, crossword, crypto puzzles… Input basketball terms into a DIY puzzle maker for a quiet activity. Here are a few vocab words to get you started…. Alley-Oop, Buzzer Beater, And One, Baller, Fadeaway, Flop, Granny Shot, Swish, Zone, Traveling, Backboard, Assist
Print a jersey coloring page and have the kids design their own team gear. They could create a new design for their favorite team or come up with an entirely new squad.
The anatomy of the basketball shoe has evolved over the years. Technology has made cushioning soles and ankle support easier and keeps players safe while running up and down the hardwood all day. Research and compare shoes from the past like Red Ball Jets (50’s-60’s) and compare them to Jordans (80’s- current) and other superstar labels like LeBron James or Steph Curry. Once you learn what makes up the shoe and how it’s changed overtime create your own. Design everything from the type of sole to the thickness of the tongue. Sketch and color your completed sneaker.
Biographies of Basketball Greats
Check books out from the library and read up on the sport’s most impressive players. …Stephen Curry, Michael Jordan, Lebron James, and many others.
STEM Basketball Tower
Think you can build a tower strong enough to hold a basketball using only paper and tape? Save a newspaper or two and get to planning. Have older kids build their own and parents can help the little ones. See what else your tower can hold once this challenge is complete.
There is a bit of rhyme and reason to making selections and March Madness is a perfect opportunity for parents to introduce their kids to the world of “bracketology”. Bracket busters are totally possible and when they happen can pay out big.
Have a Pep Rally
DIY noisemakers, pompoms, and streamers. Dust off your Jock Jams Vol 1 cd. Pump up the music and get ready to rumble. Play some minute to win it games, create silly dance routines and kick off the tournament with style.
Have a Halftime Show
After the pep rally the next best thing is the halftime show. Create your own afternoon of fun with buzz in worthy silly games like name that tune, a limbo, a 3pt contest or a backwards race while dribbling a basketball.
Trivia, Game Show Style
Here is another family friendly game that utilizes noisemakers/buzzers. March Madness trivia would be appropriate but you could quiz your family on anything they love; books, dinosaurs, cartoons or sports in general. Buzz in first with your answer to win.
Our kids seem to love running the house searching for things on a list (unless it’s a necessity for getting anything productive done like finding shoes or homework for school). Jot down a few basketball related things for them to hunt. Things like a ball, something in their favorite team’s colors, items from a concession stand, noise makers, sneakers…
Bake Winning Treats
Cookies and Cakes are already in the shape of a basketball so it’s super easy to buy pre-made or whip up some yourself to decorate. We like to use orange and brown M&M’s to decorate our cakes. Add some food coloring to the cake mix for an orange basketball colored cake (or try creating a team colored cake). Mix your sugar cookie dough with some orange food coloring and then pipe some lines to create basketball cookies.
Once the teams are set, grab a map of the United States and have the kids mark the state each school is in across the country (older kids can find the school’s city). Have them research the teams if the location isn’t obvious (for example Indiana University is in Indiana. Duke, Baylor and Creighton aren’t as easy to place). Have conversations about which state has the most teams in the tournament or which region in the country is best represented. Hypothesize as to why.
Luck of the Draw
Check out how this family fills in their brackets. We think it’s a fair way to ensure everyone in your household gets a chance to pick the winner.
In addition to your household get your friends, kid’s friends, work, church or school group involved too. Set up a zoom meeting for a virtual pick event. A little friendly competition and camaraderie is good for the soul.
March seems to be a difficult month for many. Mother Nature can’t decide if it’s still winter or if we’re heading into Spring. The slushy, dirty snow isn’t fun to play in anymore and while the days are longer it’s still cold and dreary. March madness offers a lot of fun and entertainment if you know how to involve everyone. Incorporate March Madness into your yearly traditions. It will give everyone something to look forward to and as the kids get older and older their involvement will evolve so you’ll never have the exact same experience every year.
Let the winner pick a restaurant for dinner, the movie for movie night, or the board game for family game night… whatever your family is into. Have fun and get your game on!
One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.