Saturday, March 13, 2010

March Madness Bracketology for Toddlers

March Madness is a big deal in our house. Not to me so much but for my husband, who we'll be calling Cakes, it's like Christmas, New Years, Halloween, and Groundhog Day all crammed into two and a half glorious weeks.
I really wanted to get our son (nickname: Go-chan) involved in all the basketball insanity so I came up with a little toddler version of the typical tourney bracket. We've been working on shapes and colors lately so that's kind of the "lesson" I incorporated into the craft.

Hopefully most of you know how the NCAA Tournament works and what a bracket is -- if not, just stop reading this post now because I'm betting you won't be interested in making this craft.
In the NCAA tourney there are 64 teams (actually 65, but don't worry about that odd-man-out team) divided into four regions --East, West, Midwest, and South -- with 16 teams in each region (duh). If you look at our bracket, you'll see there are only 32 teams. I decided to start our bracket during the second round when there will be eight teams in each region for two reasons: 1) we don't have a wall big enough for a bracket that could include 64 teams and 2) Go-chan's only 2 and has a limited number of shapes that he can recognize. I gave each region a color (East is blue, West in red, Midwest is yellow, and South is green) and within each region gave each team a specific shape (we chose triangle, square, rectangle, circle, heart, octagon, star, and oval).
The idea is that, once the tourney starts, we'll go over the results of the previous day's games and Go-chan will be able to take down the blue circle or the yellow octagon or whatever shapes correspond with the losing teams and move the other shapes onto the next box, thereby keeping track of the tourney results AND working on his shape and color skills -- talk about multi-tasking.
To start with I painted some poster board brown which I immediately regretted but couldn't undo. It's way too dark. I had the idea that I'd paint the lines of a b-ball court as a background but then realized that made no sense since I'd be drawing the bracket on top of it. Anyway, next year I'll probably do the background in orange and paint the bracket in black so it reminds you of a basketball. I made do with the brown back ground and painted the bracket on in orange. Using my handy-dandy Cricut machine and some of my huge cardstock supply I cut out our shapes, eight shapes each in four different colors. I figured Go-chan will probably like playing with the shapes even after the tourney so I "laminated" the shapes between two sheets of contact paper and cut them out again.
Slap a little painters' tape on the back, stick the shapes into the outer boxes and you've got a toddler tourney bracket! Now we just have to wait and see who makes it to the second round, fill in the shapes with the college names, and Go-chan's colorful bracket will be in full effect! I'm just crossing my fingers that the Huskies make it far -- go Dawgs!

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