I have one SIMPLE phrase for you . . . “Are you ready for some footb-a-a-a-a-a-a-ll? Whether you’re jonesin’ for college or pro, pigskin can be so much more than weekend fun for you. Have you ever thought about bringing a little football theme into your room this fall (or perhaps during the Super Bowl)? Not only is it a great way to hook your kids in immediately (especially those boys and girls who dig cheer), but it also parlays ever so nicely into team building and fostering that classroom community.
The football theme has been a staple in my room for nearly a decade. I absolutely love the game and back to school wouldn’t be the same without it. With this said, my hard-hittin’ football themed packet just received a much needed facelift. Since I have touched on this before, I decided to up my game this year and see if I could come up with some new ideas to share.
Well, I managed to do just that . . . with a little help from my friends at Oriental Trading Company. Um . . . WHOA!!!?? I had no idea that this site had so much up for grabs in the football department. Did you? As I cruised their selection, the wheels started turning and a handful of inexpensive items went into the cart. Here are some go-to ideas you can easily run with in your classroom that will inspire a week of engaged learning and football themed fun.
As soon as I saw this item, I had to have a class set. Yep. We’re talkin’ football- themed SLAP BRACELETS! I mean . . . what kid doesn’t love this crazy wrist candy?? Well, did you know that these silly little things make tea parties easier and more engaging than ever. It’s true. When it’s wearable and not just on a card, the attention level goes through the roof. But, that might not even be the best part. The prep is minimal with this one and you can reuse them throughout your themed week. Here’s my thought process on this one . . .
- Decide on your standard/concept du jour (of the day)
- Use address labels to mark the bracelets. You can take on so many different concepts. Everything from fact families and rounding, to word families, vocab, and main idea are fair game. If it can be paired up, sorted, or grouped, you can plop it into a tea party!
- Pass out the bracelets and invite your kiddos to slap ’em on (just be sure you frontload . . . hehehehe).
- On your signal, students cruise the room in search of the classmate or classmates with the corresponding label.
- When the timer sounds, or everyone has located their match, review whole class to ensure students matched themselves correctly.
- Collect the bracelets at the end of the activity and play several times throughout your week of football fun! (I always send my bracelets home at the end of the week, but you also can save and reuse them if that floats your “pom-pom”).
TENS FACT CHEER
Cheering and football go hand in hand in my book. It’s just part of the game! When I was scrolling through the football area on Oriental Trading, I came to a halt when I hit the pom-pom section. You can bet that I picked up a dozen in my school colors (#winning). Pom-poms are always a GREAT idea in a classroom setting (before, during, and after football season).
Every fall I teach my students the “Tens Cheer” as those tens facts are huge during the first trimester of first grade. Don’t teach firsties . . . no worries?! This is also a great review before launching into adding three numbers (you gotta start by looking for numbers that make 10). I’m sure you’ve figured out where I am headed right about now. In my way of thinking, what’s a good cheer without pom-poms and megaphones? Um, not a very good one in my book. So, we always bust out the props and show off our mad cheerleading skills. Of course, you have to model it first, but then you’ll have them wrapped around your finger. We always chant this simple fact cheer throughout the week and hoot and holler until our throats hurt. (My sweet teacher neighbor was used to my shenanigans.) I can’t take credit for this one as it is the brain child of my folks . . . Ron and Nancy Brown from Intelli-Tunes. Let’s just say the “apple” didn’t very fall from the tree <3
Interested in trying this in your classroom? I put a freebie print out below (just click the image to snag it). Slip this under your document camera or copy on the white board. Pick five or so kiddos to come up and help you chant and cheer. I don’t bother with 10 + 0, 9+1, or 5+5 because most kids already know these (but, feel free to add these facts to the cheer if you so desire). Also, be sure to really draw those second addends out . . . 8 plus twwwwwwwwoooooooo, 7 plus thrrrrrreeeeeeeeee, 6 plus fourrrrrrrrrrr are 10! Toe touches are optional 😉
IT’S A GAME CHANGER
I love to connect as much as possible when I am in the middle of a theme. I’m visual and I am a dork. What can I say? I like matchy-matchy. With this said, I snagged this next item and didn’t think twice. It’s small and it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a game changer. You ready for it? Stadium cups. I know. I know. It sounds dippy, but stick with me. Changing aspects of a math or word game makes it NEW for our students. A different color die or game board with a different theme makes the activity novel again. If you change the mechanism to hold whatever you are rolling or sorting, the same rule applies in my book. For example, I would place these cups in a shake n’ spill math center. The kids are used to using cruddy Dixie cups, but now they get cool NFL themed cups. Hook. Line. Sinker. And, you can bet that I picked my favorite team – GO BRONCOS. Sure, it’s a bit of a hidden agenda . . . well, not really, but it makes me smile just the same. Kids who like the same team eat it up and kids who don’t, really want to beat your team! I’d call that a win-win.
I had no idea that Oriental Trading had such cups (NFL and many college teams) or I would have been all over this years ago. Oh, and on a final and very random note, I couldn’t help but mentally fist pump when I realized that I typically would only need 6-7 for my largest math group and the pack comes with 8. #onejustforme
My mind went a billion directions when I saw this awesome product. Let’s be honest here . . . mini football notebooks can be used in scads of different ways in the classroom. From silly team games and read the room activities, to spiced up spelling practice and whole class review, these little gems are absolutely clutch. Check out a few of my ideas in detail below (I just let my mind wander a bit and this bubbled out). I SO want to try some of these this year!
- THE LONG PASS – I am thinking along the lines of a timed table group game. Cluster your kiddos in groups of 4-5 and assign a “captain.” Provide each group with one notebook and a pencil. On your signal, have them complete a task together as a TEAM. . . heads together and buns-up style. In first grade at this time of year, I would definitely have them tackle word families (most likely short vowel teams at this point). I suggest calling out a family of choice, jotting it on the board, and setting a timer for one to two minutes. The captain starts with the book and writes one word from the family as his/her teammates support. This child then tears out the page and places it in the center of the table group before he/she passes the pencil and pad to the next player. Play continues around the table until the timer sounds. Want to add a little active fun that will surely increase engagement? When a student finishes writing a word, have him/her do 10 jumping jacks, jog around the table group with the paper slip, or something else exercise or movement-related that tickles your fancy.
- TRAINING DAY – Use your spelling words or phonics pattern of the week to guide this activity. Place the football notebooks in a center and post the desired words close by (I typically place our words to practice in a pocket chart next to the table group hosting the center). The kids simply copy their words into their mini books multiple times. You may choose to have them rainbow write each word, illustrate each page, or use them in a sentence (hot shot group). It’s really just a basic word work station, but the notebook adds an element of fun.
- LINE ‘EM UP – use these pads after a whole group lesson for a review-type game. I particularly like the idea of putting a series of numbers on the board. In essence, this is just a different way to sort or order items. In addition to number order, I see this activity working well for greater than/less than, abc order, fact families, word families, and vocabulary (call out a definition and they write the corresponding word).
- FINISH THE PLAY – this doesn’t need much explanation. Instead of having your kiddos use a recording sheet as they play read/hunt the room, invite them to jot the words they locate in their notebooks.
**NOTE – The super awesome notepads are out of stock at the moment . . . BLARG! However, you can still roll with these activities in a few different ways. One . . . watch for them to come back into stock. Two . . . snag these fun foam football crafts and have your students create their own mini notebook. (I see this as a stellar afternoon project as the little guys always get so tired during those first few weeks back to school.) Three . . . print out football clipart, staple to a few blank or lined pages, and trim to create a DIY football shaped pad.
Now, if you really want to go that extra yardage, snag some personalized football pencils for your crew. These are so cool. I was able to imprint a message to my classroom team. They are the perfect extra element for any TAKE NOTE or writing activity during your football week.
RACIN’ TO THE END ZONE
- Prepare by coning out a course in a large grassy area. (I like to place a line of cones in front of each team for them to zigzag through as the take on the course.)
- Break your class into 4-6 teams and invite them to line up along a starting line. Take a moment to review the rules of a relay race (one team member at a time, sit after your turn, good sportsmanship, etc).
- From here a variety of football-themed relay races can take place. Below you will find just a few suggestions to help get those juices flowing . . .
- PASS THE POM-POM – provide each team with one or two pom-poms that serve as the “baton” they have to pass off. (If you incorporated the TENS CHEER, you already have these!)
- RUNNING BACK RELAY – each group of kiddos uses a small football as a relay “baton.” Encourage your students to tuck that ball, zigzag like crazy, and show off those fancy running back moves! NOTE: I scored a class set of mini footballs for a VERY reasonable price on Oriental Trading last year. I used them in various activities all week and then let the kids pick one to take home on the final day of our football theme.
- FIGURE IT FOOTBALL RACES – label a class set of cheap foam or plastic footballs with addition, subtraction, or other math problems and scatter them at the end of your relay course. (You may choose to write directly on the ball with Sharpie or use masking tape so you can reuse or gift the footballs at a later time.) When you are ready to play, students run the course, find a football and solve it during their run back to their team. Answers are called out to the teacher as they drop the ball into their team basket. (I am all about using props multiple times. Case and point . . .the mini footballs.)
Alright, so there you have it. A handful of easy to implement football-themed ideas that are perfect for college or NFL kickoff. If you just don’t have time this September . . . no worries. As stated above, alter the concepts showcased in the ideas above to fit your academic needs around that BIG FINAL GAME in winter. All in all, if you are into football, I promise this will be a win for all parties involved. The kids always get way into it . . . and you will too! A huge thanks to Oriental Trading for getting my creative juices flowing. With just a few fun and inexpensive items, I was able to totally up my football theme game 🙂
If you are interested in more football ideas, CLICK HERE. I put together a fun collection of standards-based activities and lessons that cover all of the bases . . . strike that . . . YARDS! If you already have this pack, be sure to re-download as it just received a fancy new makeover 🙂