Sunday, March 12, 2017

10 Fun Ideas To Enjoy March Madness As A Family

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Check out the end of this post for some great basketball gear for the athlete/fan in your life!

Our family has always been big college basketball fans. We love watching our favorite team (The Michigan State Spartans) as a family. The kids will even mark the games on our calendar to make sure we don't miss a televised game. - Gotta train them up right!

Now brackets in our house mean open season for some trash talking. We put big stakes on these brackets and no one wants to lose. 

Over the last few years the winner with the best bracket has gotten - a huge Hershey candy bar, $10 bill, an article of clothing (my daughter won and picked a dress that she refers to as her basketball tournament dress) and an ice cream dessert date with a parent. 

As you can see we are serious here - we don't mess around. 

Since a majority of the first round games in the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament take place during the day and our kids are home (because we home school) I allow the TV to be left on after lunch so we can catch updates on the scores. It's a blast hearing one of my kids shout out the score of a game they are closely watching because they selected a certain team to win on their bracket! 

The NCAA Men's Basketball tournament provides lots of fun learning opportunities and here are 10 ideas you could do with your kids to enjoy it as a family

10 Fun Ideas to Enjoy March Madness as a Family

#1 Fill Out A Bracket - 

Your kids could do their own or you could do one as a family. Kids can practice their handwriting skills as they write the names of the schools they select on the brackets. My son is a reluctant writer - except when it comes to filling out his bracket. He puts a lot of focus and effort into writing the school names correctly and NEATLY. If you are looking for a bracket online here is a great place to get one to print off. 

#2 Play Basketball Bingo

Maybe it is the first time your kids have been exposed to the game of basketball and you want to start teaching them the terminology of the game. The best way to do this is to get them engaged with a simple hands on game like bingo. There is a great website you can use to generate bingo cards for free using terms/words you want as the squares or use the pre-made ones on the website. Click here to go to the website. 

#3 Put Up An Indoor Hoop

If we are going to watch basketball we ought to play a little here and there too to really get into the game. During the tournament we have several spots throughout our house where we put up hoops. My husband hung this hoop from the top of our stairway and regularly plays a pick-up game with the kids. You don't have to buy anything though - you could just put a piece of cardboard on the back of a trash can and use the trash can as the hoop. Kids will love tossing their trash through the "hoop"!

#4 Pick A Team To Learn About

You could incorporate a lot of learning through this fun activity. Encourage your kids to randomly pick a team, find where it is on a map and then look up the school online and read about it. For older students this could be a simple way to get them excited about college. Have them find out fun and interesting facts about a school - like why they have a certain type of mascot, history of the school, what the school is best known for, location, types of majors and pictures of campus.

#5 Skip Counting Practice

Since most of the scoring during a game is from 2 point shots you could really have fun teaching your kids how to skip count by 2's. After they master that skill have them skip count by 3's (3 pointers). I recommend cutting out circles from brown construction paper and putting the skip count numbers on them (2, 4, 6...). Then tape the circles in a pattern on your floor so the kids can jump from circle to circle saying the numbers.

#6 Adding & Subtracting Math Using Game Scores

Sometimes my kids ask when they will ever use the math they learn in school in real life - keeping score of a game is a good answer! Coming up with the difference between two teams scores, counting down time left on the clock and calculating shooting percentages all require the use of math. Based on your child's level of math you can discuss these math concepts during the games. For my oldest kids (grades 5th & 7th) we will be focused on calculating shooting percentages of various players and teams (shots made / attempted shots = shooting %). My younger children will be working on finding the difference (subtraction) between the teams scores. We will talk about inequalities as well - who has more points, who has fewer points.

#7 Sweet 16 - Sweets!

The tournament is know for the catchy titles of the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight and Final Four. How about letting your child choose a special "sweet" to eat while watching the sweet sixteen games. You could make basketball shaped popcorn balls or rice krispie treats.

#8 Learn the Positions of Players On The Court

With so many games there are plenty of opportunities to teach the game to the kids including the various positions and what the difference is between offense and defense. This website has detailed instructions, picture of the court and the game rules for you to read and use as you explain it to your kids. See if they can point out what they learn while watching a live game!

#9 Play Basketball Games

Besides the actual game of basketball there are a lot of other fun basketball games you can play with your kids. Around the World, 2 on 2, P.I.G (or H.O.R.S.E),  and Knock Out are just a few but you can find more including the instructions here.

# 10 Throw a Championship Game Party

Even if your team didn't make it to the championship game you can still throw a party to enjoy the final game of the men's college basketball season. Have your kids help plan the party including the food, decorations and invitations. They could even show off their newly acquired basketball knowledge with your guests or play the games they learned about basketball!

The tournament is a great way to bust out of the cabin fever season and enjoy the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament! I'd love to hear how your family enjoys it - please leave a comment with your ideas.

Looking for some great basketball gear? Here is a collection I put together for you or your favorite athlete.

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