Best Super Bowl Lessons and Activities

best super bowl lessons and activities
(Image credit: Pixabay)

The Super Bowl always offers some – apologies in advance – super teaching opportunities. But this year thanks to the likely attendance of Taylor Swift, a whole new group of students will be interested in the hype and hoopla surrounding the game, if not necessarily the final score. 

This year’s competition between the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers will take place on Sunday, February 11, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, and will feature a halftime show by Usher. 

As a college professor, I always reference the game during my classes, and while not every student is a football fan, it’s one of the few remaining mega-media cultural touchstones. The vast majority of students from any background still watch or are aware of the game, and that makes gaining common ground easier. 

Of course, the same holds true for K12 students and there are many fun ways to incorporate buildup to the game in class. And that was before a certain mega-pop star began showing up at Kansas City Chiefs games to cheer on her boyfriend, Travis Kelce. 

These teaching tips below will get you and your class ready by kickoff with lessons ranging from history to media literacy and ethics. Here we go, or I should say, hut, hut, hike! 

Use These Tips From The New York Times 

Last year, The New York Times compiled a list of Super Bowl teaching tips that will have students examine Super Bowl themes with a critical eye. These range from debating the safety of the sport to examining gender in the game. Creative teachers can use these resources as inspiration without fear of fumbling the ball. 

Debate Media Literacy and Ethics 

When Taylor Swift attends Kansas City games it can feel like the camera is panning to her reaction to the game every 10 seconds. Some football fans have voiced their frustration with this and unfairly blamed the pop star, but other reactions have been more mixed. Her attendance has also led to conspiracy theories about her being a government agent and the games being fixed. What is fueling these conspiracies? Have there been mistakes in the way the media has covered their relationship? These are great topics of discussion with students. 

And for the record, if the government is looking for agents to poise as megapopular popstars who get to go to football games every week, let me know where to send my resume.

Learn About Historic Super Bowl Ads 

The Super Bowl is about so much more than the action on the field and has traditionally been the biggest day in advertising, with many brands using it as a launch point for new advertising campaigns. One of the most famous is this classic ad from Apple inspired by the novel 1984. Have your students watch it and learn about the history of technology as part of the class discussion. 

Play Football-Themed Games in Class 

This resource from Teaching Expertise is brimming with football-themed activities and games. From building a football shape pinata to flick football and football-centered interactive reading games. These games are not specifically Super Bowl-centric so can be enjoyed even during the off-season as those of us who are Jets fans wonder if this is the year our luck turns. (Spoiler alert: it’s not!) 

The Teacher’s Corner 

From football-themed scavenger hunts to sports-related health exercises and exercises for Monday morning based off of Super Bowl ads, the various resources here will allow teachers to pick and choose from an array of Super Bowl-related class activities. 

Education World 

An excellent resource for teachers looking for pre-designed classroom exercises. From a geography lesson in which students locate the home city of each previous Super Bowl winner to having students who are already sports fans research top plays in Super Bowls past, there are many different exercises and resources. 

Coverage of the First Super Bowl in The New York Times 

History and media teachers can make use of this resource, which leads to the Times’ coverage of the very first Super Bowl. Students can compare this article to modern coverage of the big game. What are some similarities and differences? 

A Beginner’s Guide to Football from The NFL 

Not all of your students will be football fans or even familiar with the game. This short video produced by the NFL is designed to give those who are new to the game a rundown of the rules. This could be used as a primer before other football-related activities. 

Erik Ofgang

Erik Ofgang is a Tech & Learning contributor. A journalist, author and educator, his work has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Smithsonian, The Atlantic, and Associated Press. He currently teaches at Western Connecticut State University’s MFA program. While a staff writer at Connecticut Magazine he won a Society of Professional Journalism Award for his education reporting. He is interested in how humans learn and how technology can make that more effective.