The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament starts in earnest today and the March Madness is officially underway. Filling out your bracket and cheering on your favorite teams is a ton of fun. There are ways parents can make the NCAA Tournament educational, too. Here are some lessons to be learned from this field of 64 college basketball teams, broken down by subject matter.
Use Team Location to Learn Geography
Get out the U.S. map or an atlas, and find the location of the schools. You may have to look the schools up first because, well, not everyone knows where Davidson and Hampton are located. (Hint: Davidson is in Davidson, North Carolina and Hampton is in Hampton, Virginia.) You can adjust based on your kids’ school level, sticking with just finding the home states of New Mexico State or North Dakota State. Kids working on map skills can work on using coordinates to locate cities in which the colleges are located.
The Tournament Offers Lots of Math Practice
When watching a game, you can practice greater than/less than using the score. Learn fractions talking about the quarters of the game, or the half court line (any over and back calls?) Talk about odds and probability with brackets.
For older kids, the NCAA tournament is a great chance to introduce and practice calculating percentages. Here’s a lesson on calculating the percent of shots made. Free throws are a good way to do this, as often the announcer will say how many free throws a player has made of ones taken in a game, or they will show the player’s free throw percentage on the screen.
Mascots Can Be a Great Way to Learn about Habitats
Have kids research some of the mascots and their connections to the schools. Why is Maryland’s mascot the terrapins? (Hint: You can read why, and why the diamondback terrapin is the state animal, here.) Why is Arkansas the Razorbacks? (Hint: Razorbacks are native to the Arkansas wilderness, according to the university’s website.) And I admit that I didn’t know that there were piney woods in East Texas until reading about why Stephen F. Austin has the lumberjacks as its mascot.
Get Moving for Physical Education
Yes, this may seem obvious, but in addition to getting outside and playing some basketball yourself, it’s possible to make watching games – usually a sedentary activity – more active. Have your little (or big) viewers do as many jumping jacks as point a team has scored, see who can do the most sit ups during a time out, or watch a commercial break in defensive stance.
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