College basketball culminates in March, with many college students and alumni hoping that their alma mater will make it into the tournament and go on to win the national championship title. March into the madness and join the millions of super and fair-weather fans as the nation gets swept away by March Madness. Your group is sure to have a slam-dunk month with the activity ideas listed below.
SEATED BASKETBALL – A month of March Madness would not be complete without a friendly game of seated basketball. Grab a basketball (or a smaller ball) and an empty, round trash can to use as your basket. Arrange ten chairs in a semi-circle; this will be your basketball court. Arrange additional chairs along the sides of the court for spectators. Determine teams, five players each. Sit players in chairs, alternating between team one and team two. Give the basketball to Player 1 on Team 1. Place the basket near enough to promote successful shots. Player 1 gets three shots; each basket is worth two points. Score the baskets, then give the ball to Player 1 on Team 2. Remember to move the basket so that Player 2 has a fair chance to score baskets. Continue until each player on both teams has had a turn. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins. Play throughout the month of March and/or include staff members in the game.
THINK-FAST TRIVIA – Basketball is about speed and accuracy. Plan a Think-Fast Trivia for members that will challenge members’ speed and accuracy to recall information. Select teams and set a timer for ten minutes. Starting with Team 1, ask them to answer as many questions as they can within ten minutes. Then, move on to Team 2. Whether you theme it or randomly choose questions, keep it fair by asking similar questions to each team.
BASKETBALL PROCESS ART – Scout for used basketballs at a resale shop, or purchase mini basketballs at a discount store for this fun art project. You’ll also need thick, white paper (such as yardstick or canvas paper), acrylic paint in various colors, painter’s tape, and plenty of disposable aluminum foil lasagna trays (9×13 size, one per participant, plus one per color of acrylic paint). Cover your working space with a disposable table cloth – this activity may be a little messy. (Offer each participant a disposable apron and plastic gloves). Give each participant a tray and a sheet of paper. Secure papers in the trays by taping them down with painter’s tape. Fill the bottom of the extra trays with acrylic paint – one color per tray – and place one mini basketball in each tray. Participants then select their colors and, one ball at a time, place a dipped basketball onto their paint paper. Instruct participants to gently roll the basketball around in their tray, being careful not to allow the basketball to fall out of the tray. When they are satisfied with the look, they can choose other colors to roll around on their painting. Let the paintings dry overnight and display on a wall or bulletin board.
MAKING SLAM DUNK COOKIES – Gather Oreo cookies, orange-colored chocolate melts, and black squeezable icing tubes. Start by melting the chocolate according to the instructions on the package. Place the melted orange-colored chocolate in a large bowl. Next, instruct participants to dip an Oreo cookie into the chocolate, coating both sides. Place the dipped cookie on a cookie tray lined with wax paper and allow it to set. Continue until you’ve dipped all of the cookies, or run out of chocolate. Once the chocolate has set, ask participants to decorate the cookies to resemble a basketball, using the squeezable black icing tube. Provide an example for those who aren’t sure how to make a cookie look like a basketball. (Offer disposable plastic aprons and gloves to participants.)
BRACKET PREDICTIONS – Plan an activity to assist members as they make their own March Madness predictions, or place a pile of blank brackets that members can pick up at their convenience. Keep tabs on members’ completed brackets throughout March Madness, and give a prize to the winning bracket. Here is a link to an online PDF to help with brackets (Simplify this for the participants as needed.): https://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-men/ncaa-bracket-2019-printable-march-madness-tournament-bracket-pdf.
SPRING BALL – Mix basketball and spring by planning a Spring Ball. Decorate with spring flowers and basketballs. Serve Slam Dunk Cookies along with cups of milk, so that members can dunk their cookies. Invite an entertainer to perform spring tunes and ask him or her to incorporate a few Jock Jams (sports-related songs) into their set list.
VIP VIEWING LOUNGE – Turn a common lounge into a VIP Viewing Lounge so that members feel like VIPs while watching selected March Madness basketball games. Decorate with the playing teams’ colors. Create all-access passes to invite members to the lounge. Serve root beer, nachos, hot dogs, or other similar stadium food. Give members pom-poms or foam fingers to cheer on their favorite team.
BOUNCING TO THE BEAT – Seat participants in a large circle or wide rows. Give participants enough space so that they can bounce a basketball in front of them. Play your group’s favorite dance tunes. Then, give each participant a basketball and invite everyone to bounce their balls to the beat of the song. Start with a slower song at first before trying a faster one, or encourage members to bounce the ball to the first and third downbeats. Alternatively, rotate two or three basketballs throughout the group, allowing participants to bounce the ball during one song, while everyone else claps along to the beat. Simpler option: give a ball to each participant to hold in their laps, and tap the sides of the ball to the beat of the music.
SPEAKING OF SEEDS – Selection Sunday – March 17 in 2019 – is the day when the basketball teams playing in the NCAA tournament are selected and seeded, or ranked. Plan a seed party on this date and get a start on your spring garden. Fill cardboard egg cartons sections with dirt and then plant seeds in the dirt. Water as needed and place near a sunny windowsill. You can transfer the seedlings to your garden when appropriate.
LOCAL TEAM SPIRIT – Invite your local high school or college basketball team and cheerleaders to visit your group. Ask the cheerleaders to lead your group in cheers or to do a routine. Encourage your group to wear school colors and decorate in the colors of the school coming to visit. Also, consider planning a trip to take members to watch a local basketball game.
A WIN FOR THE WOMEN – March is also National Women’s History Month. Although the women’s NCAA division doesn’t get as much attention as the men’s, include the women’s teams as your group makes their bracket predictions. Do an internet search for a list of the women’s teams and keep members updated on the results of the women’s games. In your VIP Viewing Lounge, tune into a women’s basketball game. Serve light refreshments and Shirley Temples.
MARCH MADNESS RESOURCES – SAVE 25% until Feb. 28
Stock up on some of our featured ElderSong products to help support your theme this month, and then use the resources the rest of the year.
America’s Most Scenic Drives – Item #W2225D; 4 DVDs, 5 hours total running time. Regularly $29.95. Online sale price $22.45.
Take your group on a virtual road trip and visit the NCAA Division I teams’ hometowns. This DVD set features scenic drives, all across the U.S. You’ll also receive the 120-minute America the Beautiful DVD that features scenes of America, paired with music – perfect for relaxation groups or to play in the background during craft groups.
Penny Ante Red – Item #W302; 100 game cards. Regularly $16.95. Online sale price $12.70.
Break out Penny Ante Red during half-time for a fun way for your group to get to know one another. Set the deck of conversation cards in the middle of the table, along with a pile of pennies to start the pot. Give each player an equal amount of pennies, then players take turns drawing a card and following its instructions. You can even write a few basketball statements of your own, if you’d like, to keep with this month’s theme. Examples: “Take a penny if you’ve played on a basketball team,” and “Give a penny if you’ve ever made a 3-point shot in basketball.”
Skits for Seniors, Volume 2, Holiday Plays – Item #P226; 114-page large-print book; 34 seasonal skits. Regularly $16.95. Online sale price $12.70.
Use the skits included in this volume to create your own half-time show with your group. Volume two features three plays about March: March Magic, Taming the March Lion, and First- Day-of-Spring Party. Written specifically for older adults, these skits require no props or costumes. Plan to include a few skits throughout March Madness, or feature all three March plays at your Spring Ball, giving multiple members a chance to participate.
MARCH MADNESS TRIVIA
- What year was the first NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament: 1939, 1947, or 1958? 1939
- How does a basketball game start? With a jump ball: the referee throws the ball into the air and one player from each team attempts to tip the ball to their teammates.
- What is the name of the shot made when a player bounces the ball off the backboard and into the hoop? Layup
- What is the name of the shot where a player jumps up and forcefully pushes the ball down through the basket? Slam dunk
- What type of basketball shot is awarded to a player who received a foul by his opponent? Free throw
- How many points is a shot worth when inside the opposition’s semi-circle? Two points
- Which men’s basketball team has won the most NCAA Division I tournaments? UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles; 11 wins)
- What is the name of an illegal play where a player bounces the ball with both hands simultaneously? Double dribble
- What is it called when a basketball player takes a shot and misses, and then the opposing team catches the ball? A rebound
- What nickname is given to the college basketball team that is much more successful in the March Madness tournament than expected? (Hint: It is also the name of the fairy tale character who loses a slipper at a ball.) Cinderella
MARCH MADNESS THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” ~ Wayne Gretzky
“March Madness” was written by Erin McCart. Copyright 2019 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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