Along with a new marking period comes another late-winter institution: March Madness. Bracket sheets are no doubt making their way around the faculty lounge and your older students are probably getting in on the action as well. There’s something about this perennial basketball bonanza that captivates even the most casual of sports fans. It’s always great to build lessons that build on your students’ passions, so we’ve compiled a list of 16 sweet March Madness activities you can try with students of varying ages.
Have Fun with These March Madness Games & Activities
March Madness Reading Competition
Map out your reading schedule by having the kids compete to see who can read the most pages or books (depending on the grade level). Each week pair up the students (2 by 2) so that whoever reads the most moves on to the next round. By the time you reach the Final 4, select a book for them to read. The winner will be the one who can answer the most questions correctly about the book they read.
Basketball History Scavenger Hunt
This can be done in one of two ways: either by using the worksheet found here or by creating your own scavenger hunt around the classroom. Give your students the answers and have them hunt to find clues (Jeopardy style). Most students will be able to rattle off information about their favorite team or the hottest players. But they probably can’t tell you where and when basketball started.
Basketball Word Search
A fantastic resource for finding printable March Madness worksheets is Teachers Pay Teachers(TpT). Whether it’s a word search, word scramble, or something elementary kids can cut out and glue together…worksheets are an easy and fun way to incorporate the championship tournament into your classroom.
March Madness Coloring Worksheet
This is another great one for TpT if you don’t already have a March Madness coloring worksheet to use. Print out a basketball coloring page, March Madness specifically, or anything related to the game. To make it even more fun you can turn it into a contest and have the principal judge.
March Madness STEM: Basketball Tower Activity
There are plenty of free and low cost lessons out there to incorporate the March Madness theme into your STEM lessons. Check out this free activity on Teachers Pay Teachers: a basketball tower STEM challenge that engages your students in building a tower from paper and tape that can hold a basketball. If you’re looking to hit all the STEM elements this March, it’s a slam dunk!
Sweet 16 Book Competition (top 16 books checked out in the library)
Visit the librarian and have her compile a list of the top 16 books checked out from the school library. Create a bracket of the sweet 16 and have the kids vote to see which book is the winner.
Map the Teams
Have your students find the state where their favorite team is from or where each player grew up. You can even map out where the tournament games will be played. This will involve researching and using a map. Take it a step further and have them also find the state bird, capital, and major cities.
Predict the Winner
Using the following guidelines have students predict the winner using math skills such as mean, median, mode, percentage, and average.
Write a Poem about Basketball
Incorporate poetry into your March Madness games. Have students come up with a haiku, terza, limerick, etc. Good luck trying to rhyme with basketball…It’s not a hard task at all.
With bracket probabilities and shooting percentages and all manners of stats to be explored, March Madness (and basketball in general) opens up the door to all sorts of creative math lessons. Check out these basketball-themed math lesson and activity ideas!
We couldn’t have 16 March Madness game ideas for the classroom without adding in the obvious trashketball game. Playing around the world (and dividing the class into several groups) ask questions related to what you are currently studying. Have students throw a ball into the trash can. The team with the most points wins. Vary the game by using multiple baskets with different point values.
Allow students to choose their favorite team and then research the coach. Write about his/her past experience, where they grew up, how many teams they’ve coached, etc.
Energy Transfer through Basketballs
This science experiment teaches students about energy, in a fun hands-on experiment. Taking both a tennis ball and basketball you will drop them at the same time and record your findings as the energy from the larger ball is transferred to the smaller ball causing it to bounce very high.
Who Invented Basketball
Have students research who invented basketball for a writing assignment, or create a worksheet with multiple choice options and see who gets the most right. For more tips, click the link “who invented basketball” for more ideas on how to incorporate this into your lesson plans.
Short Division Basketball Game
This online basketball game is perfect for your March Madness activities. Have students login here doing short division problems, all the while playing a basketball game. This would be a great assignment to send for homework as well.
Engineer a Sneaker Activity
Boulder University has put together a really neat STEAM project for 5th and 6th grade students. This project ties right into March Madness. In this activity students will learn how a sneaker is engineered in all aspects, including cushioning, support, traction, etc. through activities, videos, and lesson plans.
Have fun with your students this March by incorporating a few of these activities into your lesson plans. Most of them are free and require very little upfront effort to put them in place. If you decide to create your own math printable or worksheet, be sure to upload it to your Teachers Pay Teachers account. It’s a great way to do the work one time, and earn money continually. For more information on this, you can read our TpT article here: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Started on TPT.