Sunday, February 3, 2013

Road Schooling Sunday: 10+ Ways Football Can Be Educational

Free Educational Football Themed Games and Activities:
 Using football to teach

Welcome back to another edition of Road Schoolin' Sunday at Life is Great in a 31 by 8! Since today is Superbowl Sunday, we'd like to share with you some ways to make learning appeal more to your child's interest. Anytime I mention the word football, my son's ears perk up! That boy is all about some football!

1. First of all, if you're watching the big game, try asking your child how many more touchdowns, field goals, or combinations will allow the losing team to pull ahead. They'll have no idea they are practicing algebra and critical thinking! (Evil grin here!) And I'm willing to bet the child who claims "it's too hard" on paper can solve the problem in a flash if it's about a topic he cares about. I know that's true for us! If your kiddos are not into football, or, well, football season is ending today, try this with another sport. Next time you give your kiddos math problems to complete, turn them into sports- themed questions. Kids always learn better when they consider the learning to be relevant to their life personally or something they are interested in. Got a dinosaur fan? Make dino problems! Roadschooling? Make camping themed problems. Better yet, give them real life problems to solve, like how long until we need another fill up? How much did our gas cost per mile?

We know that memorization and practice of addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division facts can be BO-RING! But, unfortunately, fact fluency is important. No one wants their child to be the adult standing in Walmart or Camping World counting on his or her fingers! We have just the solution to encourage your child to practice fact fluency- and love it!

2. Tackle Math Ball uses real NFL teams to preactice all basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). It's fast paced and fun! After you answer a question correctly, you advance down the field. Best of all, you can play online or on a tablet. (We've run into a lot of great games that won't work on our iPad, unfortunately. While roadschooling, we find the iPad to be an awesome educational tool. ) MrNussbaum has a lot of great educational games!

3. Funbrain Power Football allows your child to practice decimal addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, or a mixture of all of the operations. You can set the level of difficulty to meet your child's needs. I find that decimals are one of those areas that my children will argue, "Why do I need to do this?"
Sometimes, explaining that they need to know how to add and subtract money, as well as multiply decimals to determine discounts isn't "cool" enough. Give them something that looks game-y and sporty- the arguments cease!

4. Hold onto your seats, sports fans! The NFL Outreach program offers printable teacher activity guides for each NFL team. These lessons cover grammar, reading, math, science, social studies, visual arts, and even PE. Wow! Go here to select your favorite team.
There are great variations in the guides' content and length.  Here is 185 pages worth of Cincinnati Bengals themed football lessons, whereas here is only 33 pages of Atlanta Falcons activities.

5. Something we found pretty interesting for older kids (probably about 10- 18) is Visa's Financial Football game. This game uses real NFL teams and features very realistic football gameplay. You choose your strategy for each play, much like Madden or NCAA Football for XBox. Each play, you are asked a financial question, like "What is an example of discretionary spending?" Hunter really enjoyed playing it, almost as much as his "real" football games.

6. Integer Football practices moving along a number line. Your football player advances forward or backward along a number line with both positive and negative numbers depending on a loss or gain of yardage. A great visual way to work on addition of positive and negative numbers. Roadschool friendly, too, since it's internet-based!

7. For younger football fans (I haven't forgotten about you!) PBS Between the Lions has a really cute game called Blending Bowl. It has really cute animations of different parts of a word family blending together to form words. Great way to practice blending, decoding, and word families!

8. Need to practice geography skills? Print out all the NFL logos (or the college team logos if your kiddo's more of a college fan like mine) and challenge your child to place them on a large wall map or smaller printable map in the correct state. When they're done, have them write all the team names in alphabetical order. While you're at it, have students categorize the mascots (perhaps birds, other animals, and non-animals) and create a bar graph with their findings. That's what we call interdisciplinary learning!

9. Got a newspaper handy? Wait, of course you do... you're reading me on it! Click here and grab 41 printable worksheets utilizing newspapers and football to reinforce math, language arts, science, and social studies skills.

10. Looking for a project? Have your football fanatic research a team, or the city where the big game will be held. Have them create a brochure, powerpoint, website, blog post, video commerical, or whatever else floats their boat. Incorporate topics you've been working on in homeschool or roadschool.

11. And, finally, if you're looking for free printable activities, check out Teachers Pay Teachers. You have to create a free account, but there are 117 free football themed learning activities for download here.

Well, football fans, it's the 4th quarter, and time has run out on the clock! Hope you've found some great football themed educational activities you can use in your roadschooling, homeschooling, or in your classroom. Come back next week for Roadschooling Sunday!

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