By Teachers, For Teachers
Before becoming a teacher, I didn't understand why the 100th day of school was a big deal. At first, I thought it had to do with finding classroom activities or something exciting about the dreariness of post-Christmas January, but when I counted school days from Labor Day to the 100-day mark (skipping weekends, two weeks at Christmas and a week at Thanksgiving), that put me in the second week of February. Some colleagues say the 100th Day is a rich teachable moment that revolves around math. One efriend told me it occurs about the time when most kindergarten curricula cover how to count to 100. Others tell me it's simply a milestone, important to young children and passé to olders.
Turns out, the reason doesn't really matter because celebrating isn't a problem with kids. They love parties. So I decided to accommodate the 100th Day fever by wrapping it in learning. Here are some classroom activities I like that blend learning into a celebration of the 100th Day of School:
As a class, come up with two locations in each state, to total 100. One will be oriented around geography and one around history (such as, "Kansas became a state January 29, 1861."). Include a brief description and a picture and then share the collection with parents and schoolmates in the class newsletter or another vehicle.
Research what happened the 100th year of your home country's existence. What was the country like 100 years ago? What caused it to change? Who was president? What has been invented since then? Divide the class into groups so the project can be completed in one class period. Then, have everyone copy their information to a digital magazine (like you can create in Canva or Adobe) and share it with everyone.
Read Rosemary Well's acclaimed book “Emily's First 100 Days of School” about the daily achievements of grade schoolers for their first 100 days. It's 54 pages and perfect for ages Pre-K-2. You might plan to finish it by the 100th day and compare the character's accomplishments to the class accomplishments. If you prefer, read “The Night Before the 100th Day of School” about one boy's struggle to find 100 of anything to bring to class for the 100th Day project.
Another way to tie this celebration into literacy is to curate a list of 100 favorite books students have read. This might become the core of an end-of-school (or back-to-school) Wish List for your class library. Have each student write a brief description of the book(s) they suggested (no more than 100 words). The completed list can be shared using a simple Word or Google Doc or more professionally with a class Biblionasium or Goodreads account. Another interesting option for older students is the Google Forms add-on called Checkitout. Students enter all relevant information into a Google Form, which automatically populates to a spreadsheet.
From the very first day of school, have your students track the number of days they've been in school in anticipation of the 100th day, marking the days in ten bundles, paving the way to counting by tens and ones.
Have students work in groups to come up with 100 ways to represent the number "100." Some examples are:
Physical activities during winter often become calisthenics or personal fitness, exercises that can be done indoors or in the gym. Have students do ten sets of ten different exercises (i.e., jumping jacks, sit-ups, and deep knee bends) to learn the concept that 10 sets of 10 equal 100.
Another indoor physical activity is walking 100 steps and measuring where you end up.
Have students get 100 friends, friends-of-friends, and/or family to answer one hundred questions revolving around the class curriculum (say, "Who was the 10th President?”). They can start asking at the beginning of the school year, but must submit their answers on the 100th day. Decide what the winner gets.
Students calculate when members of their family will turn 100, starting with themselves. You might add a touch of history by finding out what historic event shares the day with the family member's 100th birthday. Use a website such as "This Day in History" to help.
For older students, create a blank Periodic Table in Google Sheets, Padlet, or any other webtool that allows multiple people to write at once. Break the class into teams and assign each an equal number of the elements up to 100. Teams will fill in the symbol of the element onto the correct position on the Periodic Chart.
Make a list of 100 new words learned this school year and their meanings. You might have been organized enough to collect these since the school year started or you might have students do this from memory. If you use word lists, don't let them peek! When you have the list, add all words to a word cloud in Wordle or WordArt (or a free Google Doc's add-on like Word Cloud Generator) and share this "100 New Words Learned This School Year" with parents and classmates through the class website, blog, or LMS.
Another fun idea is to have students see how many words (or phrases) they can make with the two words "One hundred."
Write a 100-word story. It must include characters, setting, plot, rising action, climax, and whatever else is required of students at their grade level. When students finish, publish them to a “Hundred Days” ebook using Adobe Spark or similar and share it with classmates and parents.
Another fun activity is to ask students to write about how they spent the last 100 hours using only 100 words. If they don't want to write, they can record it as an audio or video file but it still must be 100 words. A fun option is to create a Flipgrid where students enter their recorded response in the visual grids and then all responses are shared with classmates, parents, or anyone with access to the Flipgrid.
BTW, if you know why "100 Days of School" is so popular, I'd sure like to hear it in the comments.
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over 100 ed-tech resources, including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in ed-tech, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on ed-tech topics, contributor to NEA Today and TeachHUB, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.