We are in the midst of one of my most favorite times of the year: March Madness. The premier men’s basketball teams from the NCAA are vying for the single spot from which they can be deemed college basketball’s “best.” After the 64 teams are picked for the tournament on Selection Sunday, you will be able to find, download, and print the tournament brackets from the internet. Challenge your family to a bracket competition; when I was growing up, the winner got to choose the after-church lunch spot one week. Even if you know nothing about the game or the teams, the energy and hype that come along with the tournament are not to be left unexperienced. Here are some fun ways your family can celebrate, even if basketball isn’t your thing.
Host a book tournament
Study for Common Things blog, written by a former librarian, has a cool idea to incorporate literature into the madness. In her post here, she talks about a book tournament that she implemented when she worked at a public library. Each week, kids voted for their favorite between two books (bracket-style), and the winners advanced through the showdown. Kids were enticed to read the books they had not read yet.
You could try this in your home with picture books to keep things short and easy. Create a “bracket” with a reading wish-list (Common Things Blog used the top-16 most circulated children’s books of the year to create her bracket, or check out the Caldecott Award Winners for inspiration). Then, read two books each night and determine the “winners” that will continue on in your tournament.
Foster your map skills
After the brackets and contenders are determined, print a United States map. Challenge your kids to put a stamp or a mark in each state with a team represented in the NCAA Tournament. They might need to do some research for teams that aren’t obvious location giveaways, but this is a great way for them to explore geography and college campuses, for starters. It can also spur some fun conversations when you ask questions like, “Which state has the most teams participating?” or “From what part of the US does it seem like most teams come?” Shelisa from the thinkmagnetkids blog did this and loved the 30 minutes of family time that came with it, and she said it prompted educational and fun conversation for several weeks!
Have fun in the kitchen
There are endless basketball, game day, and March Madness inspired food ideas out there, but these basketball rice krispy treats are so fun and easy! You only need six easy-to-find ingredients- and you can substitute the melting chocolate for frosting to make it even more simple.
Bring the competition into physical activity
Beyond playing basketball and shooting hoops, use March Madness as an inspiration to stay active. Your Therapy Source is a site for special education and pediatric occupational/physical therapy resources, but their physical activity brackets are fun for all ages. The “Favorite Physical Activity Bracket” models the same idea of the book tournament described above, but asks kids to vote for their favorite sport/fitness-related activities. You could use the free printable bracket by YTS here, or create your own using theirs as a model. Set a goal to partake in each activity as a family before voting for your favorites so that you get up and get moving, too.
Research the crazy mascots
You’ve probably heard of people basing their bracket picks on the teams’ mascots and are aware of some of the crazy ones out there, but where do schools come up with those names? There’s almost always a fun story behind the mascot. As you watch games this month, see what interesting mascots come up, and uncover the history and details. Some of these featured schools might not be in the March Madness Tournament, but this article explores some of the strangest mascots in America- good for laughs for all!
What are some of your favorite March Madness traditions?