It’s that time of year: January football! If you have any little football fans at your house, this simple project will help you keep track of the twelve teams fighting for a spot in the Super Bowl. You might even figure out the NFL playoff system while you’re at it.
CAUTION: This bracket does NOT work like a March Madness bracket, or possibly any other tournament bracket you’ve ever seen. The remaining teams are re-seeded after each round. I’ll give you a quick explanation, and then on to the very simple directions for making your own bracket!
Here is a printable bracket I made, just for you :). Click on it to make it bigger, readable, and printable.
And this is a link to this year’s bracket on NFL.com, which will be updated as the games finish:
Here’s the only slightly-complicated part of the playoff bracket: the reseeding. For example, the winner of the Jets vs. Colts will not necessarily play the Patriots. The Patriots get to play the team with the lowest remaining seed. If the Colts(3 seed) and Chiefs(4) were to win, the Chiefs would play the Patriots(1). But if the Chiefs (3) and Jets (6) were to win, the Jets would play the Patriots, and the Chiefs would play the Steelers.
Confused? No worries, just go back to the bracket link posted above, it will be updated as the games finish!
In the meantime, make this bracket and let your children work on their critical thinking skills in walking through possible scenarios, or math skills in keeping track of the scores. A perfect opportunity to reinforce greater than/less than! Or, research the history of the team names, mascots and logos. Locate the teams on the map for a bit of geography, and find out landmarks and other interesting facts about their home cities and states. Check the library for books on football and famous players. You can definitely have an entire interdisciplinary unit on the playoffs!
Now, to make this bracket! I used the following supplies; feel free to improvise and substitute what you have on hand!
* posterboard, 28″x11″
*4 pieces black construction paper
*6 colors of pipe cleaners: 2 each of 4 colors, 4 of the 5th color, and 1 of the 6th color
*hanging price tags (found among office supplies in wal-mart for $1.88)
*straight or push- pins
*blue styrofoam board (or bulletin board, cork, etc.)
Very Simple Instructions:
1) Glue black paper to posteboard. (Or paint it. Or use another color, or colored posterboard, or leave it white!)
2) Bend 8 pipe cleaners (2 of each color) into squared “u” shapes…or think of them as rectangles missing one short side. Mine measure 4.5″ inches on the legs of the “u”, and 3″ across the bottom of the “u” (which is turned on its side, of course, for the bracket).
3) Place (WITHOUT gluing) those 8 square “u” shapes on the bracket as shown in the photo; I used green, red, orange and purple here. Using different colors helps differentiate the individual games, making the bracket easier to read for little ones.
4) Take out the 4 pipe cleaners of your 5th color; yellow in my example. You’ll need to join two pipe cleaners together by twisting their ends around one another to make one of the yellow brackets. Then join the other two for your second bracket. Place (NOT glue) them on your board.
5) Take out the 1 pipe cleaner of your 6th color; white, in my case. Cut two small pieces, judging the size by the amount of space you have on your board. Lay them on the board as well.
6) When you’re satisfied with the arrangement, use white glue to attach the pipe cleaners. You’ll have to make sure they’re not bent in such a way that they are off the paper, or they won’t be touching the glue. If you have trouble with this at all, do what I did: place several large, flat books on top of them! Be sure to leave them alone until they are completely dry.
7) MEANWHILE, make your tags for each team. Here is an image that has all of the NFL team’s symbols; you only need twelve of them. Check the 2011 bracket link above to see which ones, and cut them out.
8) Now, glue those symbols onto the white tags, one for each team.
9) Once your pipe cleaners are firmly attached and the glue is dry, you can attach it to any surface that accepts pins. I used leftover blue styrofoam insulation from my sun/name pinboard and mailbox/storage organizer projects.
10) Place pins on your bracket as shown below. You need two per square “u”, or per game. Place them slightly above where you want the tags, as they’ll hang down a bit.
11) Hang the team tags in the appropriate places (refer to bracket link again: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d81c2d42c/article/playoff-picture-2010)
And you’re finished! I’m still considering adding something in the middle to better show the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers (I hope!), but I haven’t decided yet. For now, there’s a pin awaiting our Packers tag.
My 4yo LOVES this and did much of it himself; I hope you enjoy it as well!
Sharing at some of these link parties!