Across the USA Theme – State of Illinois

illiniois across the usa

Pay tribute to the great state of Illinois with your residents during September’s Across the USA theme. Throughout the month, schedule fun activities that honor The Prairie State’s landmarks and state symbols.



Art Institute of Chicago

In addition, since Chicago is home to one of the United States’ oldest art museums, the Art Institute of Chicago, host a special art gallery activity at the end of the month to showcase all the art projects that were made throughout September. For example, assist residents with making velvet art paintings using watercolors, foil artwork using metallic foil, ceramic plates using paint and plate patterns, and paper quilling art using paper strips and quilling tools. For the art gallery, display all the finished art pieces and invite family members to stop by to bid or purchase the artwork.

Taste of Chicago

Use several landmarks and traditions from Illinois’ largest city, Chicago, as inspiration for activity ideas for your residents. For instance, pick a day in September to host a Taste of Chicago, in which you serve Chicago-themed foods like Chicago-style hot dogs (with mustard, onions, relish, and peppers – but no ketchup) or deep-dish pizza. In fact, consider organizing a pizza-dough class in which you teach residents how to roll and flip mini pizza pie dough. Another idea for your Taste of Chicago activity is to host a snack party featuring Twinkies, a snack food that was created in a Chicago suburb in 1930.

illinois activities

Sears Tower/Willis Tower

Furthermore, schedule fun activities that recognize Chicago’s Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower), the second tallest building in the United States after One World Trade Center (also known as the Freedom Tower) in New York City. For instance, as an exercise, set up a tower toss game for residents to play as they toss beanbags into one of the vertical targets. In addition, as a one-on-one activity, challenge your resident to a game of Teeter Tower in which the two of you take turns stacking and removing blocks without knocking the tower over. Lastly, as a large-group activity, pass out toothpicks and marshmallows to challenge residents to create the tallest towers. For the challenge, simply give residents 20 minutes to try to build the tallest tower using only mini marshmallows and toothpicks.

state of illinois


Another Illinois landmark, which your residents may not be familiar with, is the 15-foot statue of Superman in the southern Illinois city of Metropolis, the fictional hometown of Superman. To honor the Man of Steel, plan an intergenerational activity with the grandkids to have your residents help the kids make their own superhero capes. Furthermore, as a separate hand exercise, pass out superhero punch balls for residents to use to improve their hand mobility.

State Symbols


illinois state

Use a few of Illinois’ state symbols for fun activity ideas throughout September. For example, have fun with residents with a fun popcorn party to celebrate the official snack food of Illinois: popcorn. Before the party, use popcorn to make popcorn balls for residents to eat at the party. During the party, however, play a few popcorn-themed games like this popcorn tossing game.


In addition, since Illinois is second in the United States in corn production, consider decorating your facility for the upcoming harvest season with cornstalks. In fact, schedule a fun harvest-themed hoedown for residents to enjoy, in which you teach them how to perform the official state dance of Illinois: the square dance. Also during the hoedown, teach residents how to play the popular Midwestern game of corn hole toss, in which residents try to toss beanbags into a target.

State Bird & Insectcardinal illinois

Finally, organize a few art activities that relate to the state symbols. For instance, since the state bird of Illinois is the cardinal, schedule a few bird-themed art projects, like making bird sun catchers using a crafting kit that comes with sun catchers, glass stain, and paint brushes, decorating foam birds by having your artistic residents use paint to draw the bird’s features, or simply providing ready-to-paint mini birdhouses for residents to paint in autumn colors for the season. Furthermore, honor the official state insect, the Monarch butterfly, by providing a watercolor butterfly craft kit for residents to create their own colorful butterflies.

About Not Just Bingo:

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Not Just Bingo is an online resource of fun, senior activity ideas for activity professionals of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. They have been providing fun activity ideas online since 2009, and continue to assist activity professionals across the country by creating meaningful and engaging activity ideas for their residents that go “beyond bingo.” Not Just Bingo feels privileged to help activity directors better the living experiences of their residents while demonstrating that a senior’s quality of life can actually improve when they move to a nursing facility!


Want even more ideas each month? Sign up for the Notjustbingo Membership to receive specialized activity ideas to keep your residents and staff engaged, active, and having fun!

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