By Teachers, For Teachers
How can you take advantage of the football season enthusiasm in the classroom? And how do you do a gridiron activity when some of your students – and maybe you yourself – aren’t really excited about football?
These football-related activities are guaranteed to bring a winning attitude to your classroom, even if your home team has a bye week.
For students learning measurements, this is a great chance to practice. For example, a first down is ten yards. The football field is 100 yards (plus the end zones). An easy field goal might be 20-30 yards. A hard field goal is 50 yards. Have students practice converting these numbers into feet or even into meters.
Hometown History & Geography
Many – not all, but many –NFL teams got their names because of where they play. The New England Patriots, with their mascot of a Revolutionary War musket man, are one example. So are the 49ers (for the California Gold Rush), the Ravens (Edgar Allan Poe lived in Baltimore), and the Green Bay Packers (named for the meat packers who worked in the area).
Give students a blank U.S. map and the names of all 32 NFL teams (available on NFL.com). Have students do their best to place the team names on the map where they belong. As they do so, invite students to guess if the name is connected to the location or not. You can take this activity one step further by adding in the team logos, since some (like the New Orleans Saints’ fleur-de-lis) are also tied to local history.
Sport Weather Effects Experiment
This year’s Super Bowl will be outdoors, and in February it's likely to be cold or raining! Does the weather affect how the game is played?
Get several footballs. Keep some dry and warm. Put some in a bucket of water, and put some in a freezer or ice chest. Then take your class out to the football field. Allow each student to try throwing a normal football. Measure how far the balls go (and in what direction). Then invite each student to throw a wet ball and/or a cold ball. Measure how far those balls go (and in what direction).
Lead a class discussion about why the balls were different to throw if they were wet or cold. Ask students: if you were a football coach, what might you do to prepare your team to throw or catch in bad weather?
Super Bowl Media Interview Activity
The Super Bowl is one of the world’s biggest media events, which makes it a perfect opportunity to teach kids about interviewing skills.
Introduce students to the basics – what types of questions to ask (or not ask), how to behave during an interview, etc. Then have students research the quarterbacks, the coaches, the halftime entertainment (Madonna) or other people involved in the game.
For example, Mark Herzlich is a player on the Giants who survived a battle with cancer during college and was told he might never play again. Have students write up a fictional interview in which they ask one of these people questions. They should include answers that are as accurate as possible based on their research. This can also serve as a good football themed reading activity.
Sports Drinks & Nutrition Lesson
Many teams drink a sports drink like Gatorade during the game. For students learning about nutrition or the human body, this is an opportunity to do a little science. Why would players drink these sports drinks instead of water? Is there a difference between different brand name sports drinks – for example, Gatorade and Powerade?
The Health Behind Super Bowl Snacks
Another nutrition-oriented activity – have students put together a traditional Super Bowl party menu. It might include chicken wings, pizza, chips and dip, or desserts. Then have students determine the nutritional value of the party food. How much fat is there? How many calories? If possible, have students explore websites for Cooking Light or recipe sites like AllRecipes to find healthier alternatives for their party.
A Halftime Tribute Brainstorm
The halftime show often includes a salute to America’s Troops or a commemoration of a special occasion. Ask your students: if they were planning a halftime show, what group of people or anniversary would they want to honor and why? How would they honor them?
This could be a writing assignment or even a poster or presentation where students present their ideas in written, visual, or verbal form.
Super Bowl Statistics Activity
Football offers a natural entry point into statistics. Have students compare the stats of the two teams or the two quarterbacks playing.
How are those stats determined? Based on the stats, who should win the game? Have students write up their predictions based on the statistics, then revisit the predictions after the game.
Anatomy & Sports Injuries
Many football players suffer injuries, some of them serious. If you’re teaching health or anatomy, why not take some time to look at some of the more common injuries?
For example, what is “turf toe”? Both Tom Brady and Wes Welker of the Patriots have come back after serious knee injuries. What is it about the anatomy of the knee that makes it prone to injury in football? Why is it such a serious injury?
And of course, there is the question of concussions. What is a concussion? What are the potential long-term side effects of several concussions? How does the NFL test for concussions on the sidelines? What else could the NFL do to help players avoid concussions?
Super Bowl Commercials - A Lesson on Persuasion
Super Bowl commercials are legendary, and nowadays it’s easy to find favorite commercials of yesterday by searching YouTube. So why not use some commercials to teach a quick lesson on persuasion and advertising? For older students, you could look at persuasive language or the logic (or lack thereof) in a commercial’s argument.
For younger students, try a simpler approach: help students to recognize (in a basic way) how a commercial tries to win you over with humor, popular music, etc. Their writeup can also serve as a good football themed reading activity.
Super Bowl Commercial Writing Activity
On the other hand, writing commercials can be a great language arts assignment. Tell students to imagine a millionaire has presented them with enough money to buy a Super Bowl ad slot. Students have 30 seconds to present their ideas on a topic connected to what you’ve been studying or on a topic that is personally important to them. Have them share their writing and it can be an excellent football themed reading activity.
With these ideas, any teacher can add a burst of Super Bowl enthusiasm to these sometimes dreary winter days.
Super Bowl Pool
Let students pick squares on the pool chart.
Remind them of the standard scores for football. They want to pick a square that is the likely sum of the final scores, so they’ll have to work out potential scores before picking.
Touchdowns – 6
Extra point – 1
Field goal – 3
Safety - 2
Students will be tracking numbers and working out potential scores while they watch. The winner can get extra credit or a homework pass.
How do you use Super Bowl excitment to inspire learning? Share in the comments section!
If you liked these activities, you'll love our Super Bowl-themed Lesson Plans! Check them out:
Super Bowl Equations Super Bowl Measurements