New backpacks, fresh school supplies and students eager to learn are all images of September, which marks the start of the school year. With it comes the potential for themed learning that fits this transitional time of year. From autumn topics to character building activities, September themes kick off the new year of learning.

Fall Season

The cooler weather and changing leaves are a natural choice for a September theme. You have several options for decorating the classroom with fall leaves, apples, harvest baskets and pumpkins. Beyond all of the crafts and songs about the fall season, you can use the theme for educational activities. Nature walks at various points throughout the month gives the kids a chance to observe the changes happening firsthand. You can also explore why leaves change colors and fall off the trees in autumn.

Kids With Character

The beginning of the school year is an appropriate time to build a community and reinforce the types of behaviors you expect in the classroom. Use a theme of character building to emphasize the traits you expect the kids to show, such as honesty, trust, respect, fairness, compassion and citizenship. Explore each of these traits with examples from the classroom. Role-playing gives the students a chance to practice those traits. You can also create posters or other displays with the students to decorate the classroom and serve as reminders of the behavior expectations.

Grandparents Day

Grandparents Day is the first Sunday following Labor Day each September. The goal is to recognize grandparents and their contributions to families and society. The holiday naturally leads to a theme based on family. You can focus specifically on grandparents, or expand the theme to include the structures of families. Include projects related to grandparents, such as having the kids interview their grandparents or inviting them into the classroom. Consider the varying family structures in our societies, such as adoptions and stepfamilies. You can also research how family structures have changed over the years, including the sizes of families and varying roles that grandparents have.

Hispanic Heritage

National Hispanic Heritage Month starts on Sept. 15. Bring attention to the yearly celebration by highlighting the history and culture of Mexico, Spain, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. You can create the theme in the room by hanging posters and artifacts that show aspects of the Hispanic culture. Play Hispanic music and teach some Hispanic dance steps. For older kids, you can plan research projects to learn more about Hispanic history. Invite community members from the Hispanic culture to speak to the students.