Turning March Madness Into Homeschool Lessons

Like a lot of people right now, our family is obsessed- and I mean, obsessed- with March Madness.

And I’m actually going to blame travel for our super obsession this year.

We started off the season traveling to New York City for the NIT Basketball Tournament. Our family had the opportunity to watch games between 4 of the teams in this year’s tournament (Kansas, Louisville, Marquette and Tennessee.)

The 4 incredible games in NY (2 went into overtime!) kicked off a true love of the game. While we’ll always be partial to UT, on this trip my children realized how fun it is to watch a good game…even if our team isn’t playing.

Fast forward through the season and our family got the opportunity to travel two more times to watch UT play. And of course when we aren’t traveling- we’re watching all the games on TV.

Suddenly, it’s tournament time and the only thing my kids want to talk about is their March Madness brackets.

Last night we sat down as a family to fill out our “official” brackets. My 7-year old son, Miller, has been watching way too much ESPN the last few months so, naturally, he’s jumped on the Duke bandwagon. He even struck a deal that if they win the whole thing, we’ll buy him a Duke shirt.

11-year old, Mary Grace, is ever the loyalist (and optimist.) She bleeds orange and, therefore, counts on UT winning it all.

I always love to pick upsets. I’ll admit, historically this hasn’t worked out very well for me. But, I think it’s super boring to pick the teams expected to win. How much more fun would this whole thing turn out if I were in the small percentage of people who pick the underdog winner? I have Auburn to take the championship.

Now, I’m putting this out there for all to see- my husband, Brent, studied before making his bracket. He did research. Like, statistical research. And read lots of commentary before selecting his bracket. He has UNC winning based on the fact that they are the deepest and most well-rounded team.

So what does all of this March Madness have to do with homeschool?

I’m glad you asked.

After selection Sunday ALL my children want to talk about is the tournament. Miller’s bracket hasn’t left his hands (he took it to Bible Study, baseball practice, and even slept with it!)

It dawned on me, if I want them to learn anything this week, I’m going to have to meet them where they are! And, what better way to homeschool than to focus on all things tournament related?

First, two important things to note: Some of these questions are too basic for my older child. And some too hard for my younger child. I suggest using these for elementary age kids. A challenge can be good, and a review can too. Keep in mind, this doesn’t replace their grade level learning! It’s just fun, supplemental material.

Secondly, these are just a few ideas and examples. I’m happy to share the full document I created for our basketball tournament homeschool lessons this week. Simply send an email to sarah@momwithamap.com with the subject line March Madness and I will reply with the lesson plan!

With that, here’s a little snapshot of how I’m incorporating March Madness into our typical school week:

Math: This is one of the easier subjects to make up questions pertaining to basketball. Here are a few examples…all hypothetical at the time I made them up:

  1. If Virginia scores 17 more points than their opponent, and their opponent scores 65 points. How many points did Virginia score?
  2. Zion Williamson’s free throw percentage is 70%. If he takes 20 shots, about how many will he miss?
  3. Tennessee makes 12 3-point shots. How many points did they score from 3-point shots?
  4. Kentucky players committed a lot of fouls in the first half. Travis got 3, Washington got 2, Richards fouled out, and Johnson also has 2. How many fouls total did these players commit before half time?
  5. Gonzaga needs to score 12 points to tie the game. How many different ways can they get to 12 points (possible shot combinations)?

Writing/Spelling/Reading: I have one child that needs to practice his penmanship and another that needs to practice cursive. I came up with a list of basketball and tournament related words for both kids. They are writing the words, spelling the words and Miller is working on reading the words too.

Geography: This subject was the inspiration behind this whole “unit.” As we filled out our brackets, Mary Grace needed to know the location of EVERY SINGLE college (because apparently that’s important to her selection process!) We also used some of the schools with the state in their title to review our states/capitals. Here are a few from our list:

Bradley- Peoria, Illinois
Liberty- Lynchburg, Virginia
Gonzaga- Spokane, Washington
Baylor- Waco, Texas
Marquette- Milwaukee, Wisconsin

History: Thank goodness for Google! I spent a little bit of time searching the web for the most interesting (and fun) basketball facts. Again, I’ll send out the complete list to subscribers, but here are a few of my favorites:

  • The first basketball game took place in 1892 and was played with a soccer ball until 1929.
  • Slam dunks were not legal until 1976.
  • Earliest basketball games were played with 18 players on the court- 9 for each team!
  • The first basketball goals were made out of peach baskets. Since there was a bottom to the basket- the ref had to climb a ladder to retrieve the ball after every made shot.
  • Dribbling was not a major part of the game until the 1950’s.
  • The first NCAA tournament took place in 1939 but there were only 8 teams in the bracket.

Science: I will freely admit- science is NOT my thing. It’s easily my least favorite subject (always has been!) But, ironically, it’s my kiddos favorite. I’m not even going to try to go rogue on this topic so I found several cool science-y links that incorporate basketball. Here’s one from KiWi Co: Basketball Science.

Beyond this, you’ll find us glued to the TV as the games begin!

Don’t forget to send an email to sarah@momwithamap.com (subject line: March Madness) receive my full list of March Madness homeschool ideas.

Also, please be sure to pin this post:

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