Instructor’s Corner: Summer Martial Arts Bingo

Instructors with summer martial arts programs: I just had an awesome idea, and I want to share it with you.

Everyone loves playing bingo, right? And everyone loves taking the summer off from martial arts.

We all know that taking the summer off from martial arts can set students back. We all forget things when we don’t do them often enough. It’s disheartening to watch students slide back multiple belt ranks because of sketchy summer attendance.

You know that summer martial arts training is a great time to focus on achievement and building skills. But this isn’t always enough to convince your youth students.

I came up with a “Summer Martial Arts Bingo” game to help get students involved in the dojo over the summer.

Give your students a reason to get excited about coming to class.

Parents have to pick their battles, especially during the summer. “I don’t wanna go to the dojo today” shouldn’t have to be one of them.

Here’s where my “Martial Arts Summer Bingo” comes in. Certainly, it won’t be enough to keep some from quitting. Quitters gonna quit. But it is a fun activity for those who attend over the summer.

Here’s how it works:

1. To make individual bingo sheets, come up with 25 activities (examples: went a whole day without electronics, helped my mom with chores, practiced my form in another state, read 10 books of any length, etc.)

Use an online bingo maker to create sheets for your students. Try this one, it exports as a Word 2007 file. Using Word, you can add your own graphics, etc. I added spaces for a “summer martial arts goal” and a tally section for reading books. I uploaded our bingo sheets as samples, but you’ll want to make it specific to your school/location.

2. Using your 25 activities, make a giant bingo sheet for the class. I just used a bunch of paper from the recycle bin to create mine.

My giant bingo board in progress.

My giant bingo board in progress.

Onto each bingo spot, I added 8 spots for names. As each child does an activity, you write their names into the spots. The class can’t mark off that box on the big bingo sheet until 8 names get filled in. This makes it into a group effort.

You can adjust this number if you have a larger or smaller school. You could also make bingo boards for each belt or age group and let them compete against each other for Summer Martial Arts Bingo Blackout.

3. Prizes: Decide on prizes. Individual bingos might get a small prize, like a keychain, pencil, or button with your logo on it (try Zazzle for that sort of thing). If the whole class gets a bingo on the big board, they get a bigger prize, like a special class, pizza party, martial arts sleepover, t-shirts, pie your instructor in the face, or ice cream.

Pick prizes depending on your budget and what you think will motivate your students. Give them out at the end of summer. Note to NWSMA students: we haven’t picked our bingo prizes yet. ;-P

Check back next week for a longer post detailing more reasons why children should train over the summer.

If you have tried something that works for getting your students & parents excited for summer training, let us know in the comments section!

About Sensei/YDN Caitlin

Sensei Yudanjanim Caitlin is a 2nd degree black belt, senior instructor, administrative assistant, and student of Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and Arnis at Northwest School of Martial Arts.
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