Celebrating the 100th Day of School: A Day to Pause & Reflect
I’m not quite sure why I missed out, but I didn’t learn about the concept of celebrating the 100th day of school until my fifth year of teaching when I was in my twenties! I never celebrated a 100th day in school growing up. And then my first two teaching assignments were in failing schools where, unfortunately, we didn’t tend to celebrate as much as we should have — considering how the students and teachers persevered within an obstacle-ridden situation.
Yet, I do wish I had celebrated more in my tougher teaching assignments. Something as simple as a 100th Day celebration would have been an opportunity for some well-spent reflection — it is an important aspect for any growth. When we talk about being resilient, as a child or as an adult, with every bump and hurdle, we need to think back on what went wrong, what could have been done differently, and how will we course-correct going forward. When it comes to reflection, I personally think of it on a sliding scale:
- What is worthy of acknowledgment? (a brief nod)
- What is worthy of recognition? (in a more public sense)
- What is worthy of celebration? (in more of a shared sense)
All students deserve to celebrate classroom accomplishments, big and small, as do you! Obviously, the date of the 100th day varies depending on the start of your school year but it does tend to fall at the end of January or early February. Did you know that schools have instructional time policies which vary by state? As of 2018, 29 states, plus Washington, DC, required at least 180 days of instruction (some states specify hours versus days). Regardless of when it falls, though, the 100th day of school is an opportunity to rejoice in classroom community successes, individual accomplishments, and the pursuit of a love of learning overall.
Some years, we had a collective classroom countdown coming to a crescendo after the holidays. But one year, I decided not to announce when the 100th Day of School was. I kept it a surprise and when my kids came into the classroom that morning, I made the announcement that I was throwing our normal routine out the window in lieu of an all-day 100th Day of School celebration. In my mind, the day was not positioned as a goal to reach (because they were going to be stuck with me regardless), but rather a celebration of all we had accomplished thus far.
Most teachers can find a learning objective in each and every activity they tie into the school day, so you can imagine the creativity that abounds with a centesimal celebration. Here is just a snapshot of ideas:
- Dive deeper into the concept of the number 100: explore place value, hundreds charts, patterns, visual representations, and more.
- Create a paper chain of (at least) a hundred compliments: ask students to write a compliment to each of their classmates on a strip of paper to loop, link, and staple together to display in the room.
- Compile a list of the ways everyone is 100 ways smarter than at the beginning of the year.
- Express 100 via 100 different equations (e.g., 10 x 10; 90 + 5 + 5; 2(10 x 5)).
- Play with the Latin root word “cent-” or prefix “centi-”: brainstorm common ways that the concept is woven into everyday terms (century, percent, centimeter, centipede …).
- Build a timeline of your first 100 days together to wrap around the room detailing what the class has studied and experienced together.
- Explore local resources to learn more about the first or last 100 years of your town/city.
- Write a poem or story in exactly 100 words about a chosen topic: your class, your school, your family, your dreams, etc..
- Figure out how many seconds, minutes, and hours have been spent to reach the 100th Day of School.
- Set up five exercise stations and ask students to complete five repetitions of 20.
- Read aloud a theme-related book (see suggested list of picture books from GoodReads).
- Sing an altered version of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” or “The Ants Go Marching One By One” — or pick a popular children’s song and make up your own lyrics (Baby Shark Dance, anyone?)!
As always, you can find lots of other creative classroom crafts and activities on Pinterest.
Requiring a bit more coordination, you could host a school-wide 100th Day event, and have a fair-style celebration with each classroom hosting a booth. Include families to help organize, run, and rejoice as another way to improve school culture and strengthen your school-wide community. Celebrations are not only good for the individual but can be instrumental to a community’s well-being by expounding on a sense of optimism in reaching any and all goals.
The number 100 can have a lot of connotations — it can pertain to accuracy, being “all in,” representing completion or a whole, or just a long time (takes about a minute and a half to count that high!). And, as a multitude of 10, the number of fingers on two hands, 100 feels like a tangible achievement. Reflect, rejoice, and rise. And whether it be the first, the 100th, or the last day of school, remember: we are #MoreResilientTogether.
Darri Stephens is a former member of Teach for America and a seasoned educator, with more than 10 years’ experience in Los Angeles and New York City public schools. She’s a published author, who has also worked for education-focused media companies including Nickelodeon, IMAX, EdSurge, and Discovery Education. With master’s degrees in education from both Harvard and Stanford, she’s passionate about creative curriculum development that pushes boundaries, especially considering the influx of today’s technologies. Her most recent positions as Senior Director of Content at Common Sense and Director of Education at Wonder Workshop underscore her love of instructional design, writing, and the ever-changing edtech world — so much so that she has now founded her own content consulting agency, Darrow Ink.