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March Madness Activities for Your Classroom

by Diana Benner
Basketball goal with an arena in the background and the title "March Madness in the Classroom".

March Madness, the NCAA college basketball tournament, is an exciting time. While you might not be able to take your students to the Final Four, you can bring the excitement of the tournament into your classroom with some fun and educational activities. Even if your students aren’t die-hard basketball fans, you can still tap into the energy and excitement of March Madness by incorporating engaging classroom activities into your lessons. Let’s look at some ideas.

1. Have a Book Tournament

Instead of picking favorite teams to advance, why not set up a book bracket and have your students pick their favorite books? Ask your school librarian to run a list of the top 16 most commonly checked-out titles. Place the books into a bracket starting at the sweet 16 and ask kids to vote. As part of the voting, students are only allowed to participate in the vote if they’ve read the two books facing off. Make sure everyone has access to the books. For younger students, share each book as a read aloud. In addition to voting for the best books, students can also fill out their own brackets predicting the winners. Check out how you can set up your own tournament of books!

2. Design a Jersey

Allow students to get creative by designing their own jerseys. You can use this Google Drawing template, and students can create their jerseys digitally. Alternatively, you can print the template and let students draw their designs by hand. Then, students can cut them out to be displayed around your room during the month of March.  

3. Incorporate Fast Break Writing Prompts

Writing is just as important as reading. So, why not incorporate writing with some prompts inspired by March Madness. Some example prompts include:

  • If I were a famous basketball player…
  • If I won the championship…
  • Argue why your favorite upset team will win it all.
  • Craft a poem eulogizing the agony of a team’s defeat.
  • Write a letter consoling a star player after a tough loss.

4. Build a Basketball Catapult

Allow students to use their creativity and problem-solving skills with a March Madness STEM activity. Gather random supplies, like paper, tape, index cards, popsicle sticks, cups, rubber bands, string, and more. Challenge students to build a catapult and a basketball goal that must be the correct size to allow a ping pong ball to pass through the hoop. Take a look at some step-by-step instructions. Ask your students to document the steps in the engineering design process as they build their catapult. You can find an example of this on pages 5-8 of this document.

5. Embrace Math Mania

One math activity could involve students applying concepts like probabilities, ratios, percentages, and graphing to predict tournament outcomes. They can keep updated tournament brackets. In addition, they can compete to see who can forecast winners most accurately based on statistical analysis. Another math activity could include designing brackets with math problems of varying difficulty levels. Students solve problems to advance to the next round, ending in a championship problem.

March Madness offers a unique opportunity to blend your lesson content with the excitement of sports. Have you incorporated March Madness classroom activities into your lessons? If so, we would love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

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