It’s that time of year when people who pay no attention to college basketball suddenly can’t get enough. Productivity and focus decrease as people watch college men and women shoot half-court shots and buzzer-beaters during the NCAA basketball tournaments. If you can’t look away from the action, include your middle-grade kids in the fun. The annual tournaments lend themselves to all kinds of fun and learning.

Bracket Fun

You can find printable brackets for the men’s and women’s tournaments. Help your kids fill out one set of brackets predicting who will win the basketball games. You can fill out one together as a family or have each person fill out their own brackets and have a family contest.

Fill out two more sets of brackets: one predicting which mascot will beat the other and the other which colors will prevail. Have your kids help research the mascots and colors for each team.

Will the Terrapins (Maryland) defeat the Mountaineers (West Virginia) in the men’s tournament? And what is a Terrapin? Will the Cougars (Houston) beat the Hawkeyes (Iowa)? If you want to get to know the mascots on a personal level, you can read about Shasta the Cougar and Herky the Hawkeye before you make your picks.

For the women’s tournament, will it be the purple and gold (LSU) or the white and green of Hawaii? Creighton blue or Mississippi State Maroon?

Tip: If the entire bracket of sixty-four teams feels overwhelming, wait until after the first weekend when the field in each tournament is whittled down to sixteen teams.


Other Activities

  • Statistics. Your middle-grader can look up statistics like how many points per game each team makes on average, the average height of each team, and which team hits the highest percentage of free throws.
  • Bingo. Create bingo cards with the teams. Play along, marking off squares when teams win. You can also create bingo cards with words announcers might say during the game. Have your kids help make a list of words and fill out their own cards.
  • Play basketball! Don’t sit on the couch for the rest of the month. Instead, get outside and shoot some hoops. If the weather isn’t cooperating or you don’t have an outdoor hoop handy, play inside with a balloon and trashcan.