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Counting Days, by Lisa Von Drasek

Here are some ideas to get your hundredth-day curriculum off to the right start from day one

Celebrating the hundredth day of school seems to be a universal curriculum in today's preschool and elementary classrooms. And, it all starts, of course, on the first day of school. This curriculum is fascinatingly adaptable and can cross all disciplines and age groupings. Teachers might teach math by counting days, grouping objects and estimation. Language arts lessons are enriched by reading aloud 100 books or 100 poems, collecting 100 words and writing 100 sentences. For social studies, teachers have presented weather maps and asked students to find places where the temperature was higher than 100 degrees. For history, teachers can guide students to create a timeline of 100 days in history or collect 100 short biographies.

100th day ideas on the Web
There are some wonderful hundredth-day resources on the Internet. Education World has collected 100 diverse curriculum suggestions spanning from the language arts to physical education. Here is a sampling:

  1. Have kids complete this sentence: "I wish I had 100 ____________________ because _________________."

  2. Together with your students, learn to say "one hundred" in another language.

  3. With your students, send a postcard to a school in some or all of the cities 100 miles away.

  4. Challenge students to run a 100-yard dash.

  5. Have students collect 100 cans of food, and donate them to a local soup kitchen.

Multiple intelligence activities
Dale Copps compiled the resource "100 Days, 7 Intelligences – An Idea Bank" in 1996 while he was an elementary school librarian in Vermont. It's as relevant today as it was then. With assistance from LM_NET, the international K-12 librarian's Listserv, Dale collected hundredth-day curriculum suggestions and grouped them according to Howard Gardner's "multiple intelligences" theory. Here's an example from each:

  1. Body/Kinesthetic – Teacher or student: Sew 100 student-provided buttons on a vest and wear it on Day 100.

  2. Interpersonal – Tally up kindness: Label a sheet of chart paper "100 Acts of Kindness." When you see a child demonstrate an act of kindness, make a tally mark on the chart. After each row of 10, mark it with the number. When you have reached 100, marvel at the kindness your class has shown.

  3. Intrapersonal – Have students write a story about how they see themselves at 100 years of age.

  4. Linguistic – Ask your students to write a sentence with exactly 100 words.

  5. Logical/Mathematical – Assign numbers to the alphabet (A=1; B=2; Z=26). Find a word that = 100.

  6. Musical – Sing the following song, to the tune of "I've Been Working on the Railroad":

    We've been working in our classroom, for 100 days!
    We've been working in our classroom, here in (fill in grade) grade!
    Rising early in the morning.
    Bring our books and pencils too!
    Every day at (school name),
    we learn something new!
    100 day is here, 100 day is here.
    Come and give a cheer!
    100 day is here, 100 day is here.
    Come and give a cheer! Hooray!

  7. Spatial – Draw a 100-square grid on poster board. Label it "100 Animals," "100 Foods" or "100 People." Stock a center with a supply of magazines, scissors and glue and make a poster to display.

Books by the hundreds
Here are a few books to help commemorate those first 100 days of school:

100th Day Books

The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History by Jennifer Armstrong (Knopf, 2006). Middle school teachers may want to read aloud about a different historical event each day from this new book.

100th Day Worries by Margery Cuyler (Simon & Schuster, 2000). Many of us can identify with Jessica. Her first grade teacher has requested that the students bring a collection of 100 things to school. Jessica worries that nothing seems quite right. Arthur Howard's cartoony illustrations add a just-right light note to Jessica's increasing anxiety.

Jake's 100th Day of School by Lester L. Laminack (Peachtree, 2006). By now we are familiar with creating collections of 100 objects to celebrate the hundredth day of school. In this sweet, funny picture book the protagonist gets surprise help from a caring and concerned principal.

Emily's First 100 Days of School by Rosemary Wells (Hyperion, 2000). Rosemary Wells has demonstrated with her prolific body of work that she really gets the issues of early childhood. Here, our heroine Emily starts learning her numbers on her first day of school, and for each day after she begins counting to 100. Teachers can read aloud a number a day until the big day arrives.

100 School Days by Anne Rockwell (HarperTrophy, 2004). The students in Mrs. Madoff's class count 10 pennies; they know they've been going to school for 10 days. The students continue to count by tens until they have collected 100 pennies in a jar.

Henry's 100 Days of Kindergarten by Nancy Carlson (Viking, 2005) On the first day of kindergarten in September, Ms. Bradley says, "Each day of school I will add a jellybean to this jar. When there are 100 jellybeans...we'll have a party to celebrate 100 days of kindergarten." Children will enjoy visiting with this class as they mark the months leading to the big day.

Lisa Von Drasek is Children's Librarian at the Bank Street College of Education in New York, NY.