March Madness Junior Bracket and Basketball Activities for Kids

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Bring your kids in on the MADNESS at the Sweet 16

We love March Madness. It’s a holiday in our house.  Click Here to Print a Free March Madness Jr Bracket!

We were pumped to get the kids involved at the Sweet 16 mark the last few year, which is a more kid friendly starting point for the young ones. After watching us the first few weeks, they loved joining in, and especially loved highlighting the winners. This year we may actually listen closer to my youngest son who, at age 4, called out Butler to be in the final game.

As basketball dominated our TV, we had conversations about tournaments, basketball rules, abbreviations/initials, college, sportsmanship, and kept a whistle around our neck for impromptu basketball drills. And yes, we allow dribbling in the house, I suspect all great basketball players’ parents did.

Here’s some other March Madness ideas that dribble around the curriculum. Pick and choose!

Blank Jerseys for a number of ideas–see below Click Here for a free printable page of blank jerseys! 

Kids can use the jersey cards for various number activities depending on their needs. I left them blank so you or your child can write in the numbers appropriate for their level and your goal. You can also ask them number questions from the real jerseys while you’re watching. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Greater than and Less than with 2 jerseys
  • Order the jerseys from least to greatest or greatest to least
  • Sort the odd and even jersey numbers
  • Add the sum of two jerseys. Find which 2 jerseys make the highest/lowest sum.
  • Find which two jerseys sum makes an even or odd number.
  • Sight words
  • ABC Order

 100 Hoops Play with Leapfrog’s 100 Hoops toy, shoot and count your way to 100 by 2s, 3s, 5s, 10s in English and/or Spanish; or do the same with any goal you have.

 Mr Swish’s Basketball Store:  I was going to make a “catalog”, and still might for classroom use, but decided to keep it real (me being lazy) by letting my kids pretend shop online using the basketball section of Dick’s Sporting Goods, or go to the actual store.  Either way, a fun way to practice math around basketball!

Mascot Sorting: I’m most excited about this part. I love mascots. I secretly want to be one;) Shh…don’t tell, that’s kind of an embarrassing bucket list item.

That could be me in there…how do you know for sure?

So, here’s the deal. I’m not sure about copyright laws for sharing mascot images that I didn’t personally photograph, like Baby Jay above. I have started a personal collection of mascot photos of the current Top 25 ranked basketball schools and will keep collecting.

  • Sort and graph the mascots by animal, historical figure, or other. You could also stick to one category, like birds or mammals or tigers vs wildcats.
  • Write a story using at least 5 different mascots as characters.
  • Design your own mascot and share your design to others.
  • Alphabetize the mascots’ by their name

Commentator’s Corner:  Students will read various books, articles, team rosters, rule books, etc about basketball then report on a team or player or basketball topic as if they are a sports writer for a newspaper, magazine, or a sportscaster. I’m pretty sure for us, this will turn into some basketball in the culdesac with one person “commentating” at a time;) “Mommy fakes left and  leaves Daddy behind as she drives in for a lay-up.”

Sizing Up the Opponent: Print out a roster of your favorite basketball team.

Dribble it: Kids will dribble as long as they can for 3 attempts without errors. A partner will use a stopwatch to record the data, dribbler will find their average time. Or set up dribbling obstacle courses or take a dribble walk down your street.

Bracketology Geography:  We informally mapped out the Sweet 16  last year with the kids on a blank USA map as we discussed their college options;)

Basketball Art: Students may complete an art project where they roll an old basketball dipped in paint in a box with paper on the bottom.

We’re saving these to use as Father’s Day cards this year!

In the Stands: A Few More Ideas:  Always see what your kids come up with, they may surprise you!

  • Students can design a new jersey for their favorite basketball team
  • Students can write and perform a cheer or song for their favorite basketball team
  • Students can design basketball plays on a basketball coach’s play clipboard
While it’s a given we’ll watch the High School Musical “Getcha Head in the Game” routine a dozen times, I must leave you without this 1984 slam dunk of a rap by Kurtis Blow. Yes, I memorized this as a child and would rap it while playing ball in my driveway. PS. Someone please start street ninja basketball.
Happy Basketballing friends!


For academically basketball printables for your K-1 classroom or home, click here! 

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  1. This is so cool!! We love March Madness and always host a big tournament. Now I can get our little ones involved. Thanks!

    • Yay, Camille! Thanks for sharing. We did the bracket on a whim last year when they asked to play and were surprised how much they loved it…which we loved! Happy March Madness to you!

  2. How fun! My husband is a high school bball coach and all we hear right now is march madness. Now our little bballer can have fun with dad.

  3. Wow! You never cease to amaze! An entire unit based on basketball–so cute! You really are an incredible mom! Thanks for sharing at oopsey daisy! PS I owe you an e-mail too. I haven’t forgotten!

  4. Loved these ideas! I’m so glad you shared the link. Have a happy March Madness!

  5. Targetwidow says:

    Another thing to do with mascots…let your littlest non-readers choose their picks by mascot! We are another march madness family with kids aged 20 months, 3 years, 4.5 years, and 6 years. Everyone has a bracket from the beginning and then we let the kids redo theirs at the sweet 16 mark (sometimes even a redo at the great 8!) Thanks for the great ideas.

    • Ashley, I love it! What a fun way to get the youngest ones involved! Thanks for sharing. We’ve done a lot more with mascots this year and they think it’s hilarious. Working on a post on it right now. Happy Hooping!

  6. This is awesome–so many great ideas here! I love the basketball art and using the bracket for younger kids. They can learn so many math/ science/ charting skills from that! Thanks for sharing at Teach Me Tuesday!!

  7. Mrs. Yates says:

    This project is so awesome! I teach a 1st-5th grade literacy special and this type of project is right up my alley! This year for March we followed the Iditarod, but this is what I will definitely be doing next year! The kids will LOVE it! Thanks for the ideas 🙂

    • Mrs. Yates, thank you so much for sharing! How fun to follow the Iditarod…maybe we’ll do that next year too! March Madness has been fun the past few years around our house, I can’t wait to implement it in my next classroom. I bet it will be a good theme to use with a 1st-5th group. You’ll have to tell me how it goes next year!

      • Mrs. Yates says: is the official website. I let my 3rd-5th graders draw names randomly from a basket of the mushers they would follow. They filled out a Musher Profile (picture, age, hometown, 2 fun facts) and followed that person’s progress during the race. (Most of the mushers have their own blogs.) I made a “course” my room with all of the checkpoints labeled with the mile marker. I found copies of sleds online and printed them off. Next, I wrote the names of all the mushers plus their number on an individual sled and placed them all on the starting line. (I attached them to strings with clothespins.) Every morning, we’d check the race standings and we’d move the mushers along to wherever they were at that moment. We’d talk about the checkpoints, show pictures (from website), and let the kids lead the lessons from their. We posted pictures of specific equipment in the hallways along with our musher profiles. It was so much fun! The kids all learned so much and really got into it!

  8. Mrs. Yates says:

    The only book in my library is Kiana’s Iditarod. I used this book as the Kick-off to help the students gain some prior knowledge. It worked well, but I am sure there has to be others out there!! Would love any recommendations!

  9. Thanks for the printable bracket printout! I’m going to use it in my middle school library to do a March Madness favorite author bracket.


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