Question from a reader: the 100th day of school

Dear Jay,

        Whatís all the fuss about the 100th day of school? What makes it worthy of celebrating?
DGY, San Mateo

Dear DGY,

        The 100th Day of School celebrations have become very widespread around the United States. Depending on when your childís school year began, this should be coming up within the next few weeks. I donít know how or where they got started, but it is meritorious for several reasons:

  • Children like big numbers, yet they donít often have a grasp of their meaning. In my class we put a penny in a jar every day of school, starting with the first day. Whenever we get ten pennies, we exchange them for a dime. On the 100th day of school, we trade the ten dimes for a dollar. In doing this, kids begin to have a sense of the meaning of the number 100. We are making a previously abstract idea both concrete and understandable.
  • Many teachers assign students to bring in and display 100 items. This is a project in which family members can work together by deciding what will go to school, count them out, and find ways to display them.
  • Kids begin to understand the concept of volume. After all, 100 grains of rice take up a different amount of space than 100 marbles, beads, cookies, or baseball cards.
  • Itís fun for kids to see the variations among the work of all their classmates.
  • Once we get the items contributed by each class member, we practice counting by 100. In a class of twenty students, we reach 2,000, and now everyone has a better sense of what 2,000 means.
  • Many of these activities lay the foundation for the understanding of multiplication, as children display 100 items in five rows of twenty each, ten rows of ten each, or any other such variation.

        Teachers and parents can have instant access to lots of fun activities by entering "100th Day of School" into one of the Internet search engines.


Jay Davidson
teacher, speaker, writer, personal organizer
Jay Davidson has been teaching in San Francisco since 1969; he teaches first grade. He is the author of Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís Advice for Parents.  His column appears Thursdays in the Palo Alto Daily News.

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