SCHOOL DAYS – September Activity Ideas

Labor Day signifies the unofficial end of summer and ushers in a new school year. After a long summer vacation, kids may dread having to resume a routine while some parents can hardly wait to see the dust trailing behind the school bus. As we welcome the season of fall later on this month, take your group on a trip down memory lane by heading back to school.

THE THREE ‘R’s’ – Ask anyone from your group what the “three R’s” stand for and they’ll respond with “reading, writing’, and ‘rithmetic.” Feature these subjects throughout the month with short stories, writing, and math activities. Purchase level-appropriate math worksheets at a local teacher store. Create an essay contest titled “My Favorite Teacher” and ask members to participate. Feature the winning essay in your next newsletter. Enhance members’ vocabulary by sharing a new word each day.

PEN PALS – Now that students are back in school, arrange pen pals for members with a local elementary school. Adopt a classroom or ask the teacher to select a few students to be a part of the program. Encourage participants to write their pen pal at least once a month. Then, arrange a few times throughout the school year for the pen pals to visit one another at your facility.

RECESS – Staying active and taking time for recreation is just as important for older adults as it is for children. Have fun with your group this month by arranging recess activities after lunch. Set up outdoor games such as Ladder Golf or corn-hole (corn bag toss). Blow bubbles with participants or go for a walk. Reminisce with members about their favorite recess activities (examples: kickball, four-square, kick-the-can, jacks, seesaw, slide, swings).

HOME ECONOMICS – Turn your cooking class into a home economics course. Teach members a new skill in the kitchen, such as making macaroons, or stick with the classics and add a twist, such as peanut butter banana chocolate chip cookies. Reminisce about what home economics used to teach when your members took the class. Was the class only for women? How did that make them feel? Ask members their opinion on whether or not home economics should still be offered in schools today, and what type of life-skills the next generation should be learning.

EXTRACURRICULARS – Beyond the “three R’s,” offer other classes to engage participants throughout the month, such as art, photography, music, choir, computer, or debate. Reach out to your local high school and invite extracurricular clubs to visit your group and share more about their organization.

HOMECOMING – Organize a homecoming event for your group. Kick off the week with fun-filled spirit days, such as “Crazy Hat Day” or “Hawaiian Shirt Day.” If your community has special t-shirts, be sure to include that as one of the days. Play bingo with a football theme. Click on football bingo for a PDF of football bingo cards. At the end of the week, invite members to a homecoming dance. Pick a theme and hire a singer or band for entertainment. Serve punch and cake, or a dish related to your theme. Encourage members to dress up and be sure to take lots of pictures.

TAKE A FIELD TRIP – For many students, field trips were the most memorable days during the school year. Take a field trip with your group to a studious location. Consider visiting a local museum, art gallery, or farm. Arrange a private tour for your group. Or, take your group to a high school sports game this month, such as soccer or football.

VIRTUAL TOURS – Visit world-class museums virtually and expand the worldview of your members. Mental Floss provides a list of twelve museums that offer virtual tours, along with links to the museum. Before viewing with members, test the links and acquaint yourself with the floor plan. Use technology to display the museum’s webpage on a projector screen so that members can easily view the sites.

HOMEWORK ASSISTANCE – Give members a sense of purpose and arrange for them to volunteer as homework assistants. Offer drop-in tutoring at your facility based on members’ skill-sets, advertising at local schools. Perhaps members can assist with basic math, help with special projects, or listen to students who are struggling with reading.

LAUNCH LIFELONG LEARNING – If you don’t already offer lifelong learning, September is a great month to launch this program. Form a committee with a few members of your group to drive topics of interest. Then, invite professors, teachers, instructors, staff, or even other members to be guest speakers. Feature a special program once a month that aims to engage members intellectually.

HOST AN OPEN HOUSE – Plan an open house for families to meet department heads. Keep the atmosphere informal with a Back-to-School theme. Use school supplies as centerpieces. Serve milk and cookies. Display recent artwork that members have created. Make a collage display of photos from recent activities. Then, ask your administrator, director of nursing, food services, social worker, and other members of the management team to mix and mingle with families and members. This is a great opportunity to share any important information about your organization, as well as build rapport between members and staff. It’s also a great opportunity for your marketing team to invite prospects to visit and learn more about your community.

SPELLING BEE – Plan a spelling contest and challenge the vocabulary of members. Start with basic words and progress to more difficult words. Can members correctly spell Scripps National Spelling Bee 2018 winning word, “koinonia,” which means Christian fellowship? Do a quick internet search to find more winning words and add them to your list.

SCHOOL DAYS REMINISCENCE – Most people have strong memories of one or more teachers. Take time to reminisce with your group about their most memorable teacher and how they made learning fun. Also reminisce about favorite subjects, transportation to and from school, lunchtime, recess, school friends, homework, detention, and higher education pursuits.



  1. How much did it cost to buy the first box of Crayola crayons when they were first sold in 1903:   five cents, ten cents, or twenty-five cents? Five cents
  2. The phrase, “Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally” is often used to help students remember what? The order of math operations (parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction)
    What vehicles transport approximately 480,000 U.S. children back and forth to school each day? School buses
  3. What traditional gift do children give their teachers? An apple
  4. Often recited as most children’s favorite school subject, what is the general term for a period in which children are temporarily dismissed from their studies? Recess
  5. What type of schooling refers to children who are taught at home, often by a parent? Homeschooling
  6. What type of schools were once common throughout rural portions of the country where students of all ages were taught by one teacher? One-room schools
  7. What do we call an unexpected test in school? Pop quiz
  8. What patriotic recitation has been used to begin the day in many classrooms since the mid 1940s? The Pledge of Allegiance
  9. What type of sound indicated that the school day was over? A bell



“A well-educated mind will always have more questions than answers.” ~ Helen Keller


“School Days” was written by Erin McCart. Copyright 2018 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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