The 100th day of school is more than just a milestone worth noting – it’s a rich learning opportunity where all the core competencies can come into play. Celebrating the 100th day has become a classroom tradition in many schools, especially in the primary grades. Teachers and students in classes all over the province, perhaps the country, celebrate their 100th day at school.
What is the 100th Day of School?
The 100th day of school is literally the 100th day of the school year. From the very first day of school, many classes keep track of the number of days they’ve been in school in anticipation of the 100th day.
Days are often kept track of by counting straws, or any item for that matter, ten of which become a “ten bundle,” providing ongoing opportunities for counting by tens and ones and developing number and place value concepts. Throughout the day, students work on a variety of engaging math, art, and thinking activities that focus on different concepts of the number 100. The 100th day has become a vehicle to invite children to think, communicate, make choices, problem solve, reflect on their strengths and abilities, and feel good about learning and challenging themselves; in addition, the core competencies can be embedded naturally in the curriculum.
By the time a child reaches grade three, he or she has conceivably celebrated three consecutive school years of his or her 100th day at school. These children will have been engaged in developmentally appropriate activities that have them working with the number 100, counting by 100, and making and sharing collections of 100, and other meaningful connections. By the time they enter grade three, children are ready for new challenges.
A 100th Day Learning Story
In this learning story, I share my past experiences and observations celebrating the 100th day of school with older students and their families.
Sharing a quality piece of literature is a wonderful way to begin a new learning journey. On our 95th day of school, to set the stage and get ready for our 100th day, I have read aloud, Margery Cuyler’s heart-warming picture book, 100th Day Worries. This picture book integrates many big ideas and important themes and messages to think about, talk about, write about, and explore.
The students are then invited to think “outside the box”. We first talk about what this saying means. I ask the children: “Have you ever heard the phrase ‘think outside the box’?” “What do you think it means?” For some this idea is completely new; for others, they can move to discuss its meaning. The children talk about the concept of “thinking outside of the box” and share their ideas and examples:
“It means you have to look “outside of the box” and try to think of things beyond the obvious.”
“You want us to think imaginatively and come up with a different, unusual, out of the ordinary collection.”
The students seem to understand their new challenge. I want them to think of new ideas instead of the traditional or expected ideas. I want them to think of a creative or unique way to show 100 – something beyond the usual collection of 100 items.
Unique 100 Day Collections
Every year I have noticed that some students are excited about the possibilities and begin to brainstorm ideas, ready and willing to take on the challenge. Others find the idea too abstract and out of their reach, but with time to talk, we dig deeper and together clarify the learning intentions; the “open-endedness” of the project allows every child to succeed.
I sometimes make this a home project, inviting children to work with their families and enjoy the experience together. I send home an invitation outlining the criteria. I know this will challenge some families, but I also know it will be a welcomed home project for many. My belief about involving parents in meaningful and enjoyable activities with their children is an important condition in moving a child’s learning forward. My hope is to engage families in rich conversations and work at home. It becomes a learning experience not only for the child, but also for his or her family members.
For most, the idea of thinking “outside of the box” is definitely new in the context of the 100 day collection. But the idea, or product, definitely has some value in a variety of ways and contexts. This task is all about learning. The students’ 100 Day thinking outside-of-the-box collections challenge them to create ideas that are novel and new.
In the BC Ministry’s outline for the Thinking Competency Profiles, it states “The idea or product may also have value in a variety of ways and contexts – it may be fun, it may provide a sense of accomplishment, it may invite problem-solving, it may be a form of self-expression, it may provide a new perspective that influences how people think about something or the actions people take.” This is exactly what it is.
The engagement and success of the children taking on this challenge is impressive. As the week progresses, children share their ideas and the buzz is palpable; they can hardly wait for the day to present their projects
On the day of presenting their “collections”, students are also asked to talk about how they came up with their ideas and how they went about putting them together. The Communication Competency Profiles are successfully being addressed and met.
Everyone’s presentation is then captured on video and uploaded on to the child’s digital portfolios. The learning is made visible and communicated out; students also reflect on their projects, assessing their work in all core competencies profiles.
Here are some students’ unique “collections” from years past:
100 Hellos and Flags – Adam shared his video of him saying “hello” in 100 different languages as he pointed to the 100 different country flags. Brilliant!
100 Shaped Cookie – Ishan made a large cake-sized cookie out of 100 grams of cookie dough with 100 dots of icing, shaped like the number 100.
What city is exactly 100 km from my house? – Lauren researched and calculated that the Vancouver Island City of Duncan is 100 km away from her house in Surrey. She made a map and showed the routed with coloured pins. She also used 100 push pins outline the route.
100 Faces – Mirin made a very entertaining and creative Youtube video of herself making 100 different faces and posted it on her class blog page. Her video played for exactly 100 seconds.
The Karman Line – one student shared images on the computer of the Karman line, the imaginary division between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space, the distant is 100 km above sea.
100 Moles of Water – another student shared the scientific concept of “a mole” the unit of measurement used in chemistry. I don’t know if the calculations were accurate, but it sure was interesting.
100 Watt Light Bulb – and a student brought a 100 watt light bulb and challenged her classmates to some math calculations using the information on the light bulb box, for example, how many 100 watt light bulbs would it take to light 100 days of darkness?
Here are some former students’ videos:
I can write an engaging one hundred page story:
I can use one of our math challenge tasks to show a 100 value word in celebration of our 100th day at school:
I can share all the different way 100 is part of our lives:
Like many rich and meaningful events and experiences that happen in classrooms, the 100th day can become a vehicle to invite children to think, communicate, make choices, problem solve, reflect on their strengths and abilities, and feel good about learning and challenging themselves. It is obvious that even the Personal and Social Competency Profiles are embedded into the learning journey as important foundations to helping students become confident, life-long learners.
Part of our 100th day celebrations and learning have also included many different math activities and games that have focused on different concepts of the number 100.
Other 100 Day Activities and Tasks
I have invited and engaged students to work on other tasks and investigations, whole-class projects as well as tasks that the children could choose to work on alone or with a classmate throughout the week.
100 Lego Pieces – A Building Challenge
This challenge began with all of us sitting in a circle on the carpet. As I dumped out our 3 large baskets of Lego, the children’s excitement and anticipation was obvious. With bags in hand, children were instructed to count out ten Lego pieces. This process continued in a game like fashion with me asking problem-solving questions and student calculating the multiple of ten answers which directed them to choose their Lego, working to fill their bags with 100 pieces. Once their bags were filled, their task was to use their 100 pieces to build a structure keeping three criteria in mind: the structure had to be one, 100 piece Lego structure which could stand on its own; the structure had to be sturdy so when transported it would not break; once complete, the structure had to be given a name and function.
As I watched the children working around the room, I noticed some quickly moved to the task. Some began sorting their Legos by colour and size, others just dumped their bag and proceeded to build. Many carefully focused and constructed their structures; some were simple, others more complex. I noticed two or three students who simply could not get started; they struggled with coming up with an idea and became frustrated with the task. Some built structures that used only a small number of Lego pieces and then wanted to stop; others were tempted to go to the Lego baskets and exchange their pieces.
Half way through we stopped to debrief and discuss the strategies and challenges students were using and facing. We talked about the qualities that would help someone succeed at such a task: perseverance, not wanting to be perfect, letting go of an idea, making changes, a positive attitude, to name a few. We also talked about professions that require such focus and commitment to solve a problem and work under certain constraints and expectations. Our conversation was relevant and meaningful. Re-energized the students went back to work.
100 year Hopes and Promises
Children discussed and shared their thoughts about some of the challenges, problems, and issues people in our world face today. Some responded to this response task on their blog pages: In one hundred years what would be your hope for our world, for the people and all living things. In 100 years I hope . . .
. . . there will be no wars and there will be peace in the world and countries will share their creations to make us all equal and have the same opportunities.
. . . that people won’t be homeless.They won’t be hungry and they will have enough money to live like those who do.
. . . that people all around the world think about the Earth and help keep it clean by doing the things that they know can make a difference.
100 Day Investigations
Children worked together using I-pads to research and complete this inquiry task, making lists and charts to share with the class:
Think about. Identify. Write about and illustrate things you can find in our world that are 100 years old or older.
Castles, bridges, Disneyland, turtles, planets, tea bags, escalators, cellophane, instant coffee, windshield wipers, crossword puzzles, parachutes, traffic lights, pyramids, trees, furniture, books, paintings, countries, and people.
Telephones but not televisions. Airplanes but not jets. Movies but not sound or colour. Ovens but not microwaves. Board games but not video games. Phones but not cellphones. Wooden toy blocks but not Lego.
This task interested one student to work on an independent inquiry about the 100 Year War. Here is one piece of his project he presented:
100 Day Poems
Some children also chose to write 100 day poems:
Is there a poet inside you? Write a poem to celebrate our 100 days. Be creative. Have some fun with words and images.
Hip, hip, hooray! It’s our 100th day! Here at school, there’s lots to do. Crafts to make. Games to play.
Ask a question. Research why? Design a 100th day I spy?
Roll a dice? Investigate? Build, or paint, or calculate?
All to 100! Hip, hip, hooray!
Reflections on 100th Day Activities
As I reflect on past 100 day activities and celebrations that I have shared and enjoyed with students and their families, some very important learning intentions and goals can be identified. Children explored the world around them and communicated their experiences and ideas through a variety of medium and means. They inquired into topics that interested them, and related to their lives and experiences. Many used technology to present their collections and 100 day tasks.
Students connected and engaged with others, sharing and developing ideas. They acquired, interpreted, and presented information. They collaborated with each other and their families to plan, carry out, and accomplish a goal. Students told about their experiences, reflected on, and shared what they learned.
To all those teachers and students who recognize and celebrate their 100th day in school, I invite you to share your learning stories and how you have successfully embedded the core competencies into your learning intentions and curriculum activities, engaging your students in meaningful and relevant learning experiences. Bravo!
Happy 100th days!