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How Should Schools Celebrate 100 Days of School? Educators Are Split

Educators share their thoughts on the best way to mark 100 days of school
By Stacey Decker — January 24, 2023 4 min read
Image of a child dressed like a senior citizen with a cane.
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Let’s face it: In the winter months, the school year starts to drag. That makes the 100th day of school a great time to pause and acknowledge students’ progress.

And by focusing on the number 100, it’s also an opportunity for teachers to reinforce math concepts, especially in the early grades.

But it turns out educators have some strong feelings about how schools should commemorate the 100th day.

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Recently, Education Week shared on Facebook a piece from our archives about 100-day celebrations by Christina Samuels, a reporter covering special education who once dressed her son as an centenarian to honor of his 100th day of school. In addition to feeling inconvenienced by the experience, she said she “wasn’t sure what to think about canes and walkers used as props.”

Samuels’s story hit a nerve.

In over 250 comments on the post, educators shared what they like about 100-day celebrations, what they don’t like about them, and some fresh approaches to try. Below is a sampling of what they had to say.

Educators are split on dressing up

Lots of schools encourage students or staff to dress up as 100-year-olds on the 100th day of school—a move some say is fun and others find ill-advised, exclusionary, or offensive.

... Dressing up like an old person is ageist and ableist (when they use any sort of assistive device). I always thought it was very strange to encourage children to mock the elderly.

- Lisa Niezgoda

I admit, this is one of those dress-up days I just can’t get on board with, and I don’t care if it makes me a fuddy duddy. I agree with many critics that it seems like mockery. It’s especially problematic when kids wear fake nasal tubes, wheelchairs, walkers, or other adaptations that their own peers with special needs may use on a daily basis. BUT, frankly, my biggest issue with it is they squander a learning opportunity in favor of a major disruption.

- Leigh Bagwell

I’m a person who loves to dress up. I also have ADHD and my daughter is autistic and cannot deal with costumes much of the time. I think this kind of activity can exclude kids who are autistic, whose parents may not be available whether because of economic or mental health, or the parents have ADHD or a stressful job. Don’t add more to our day.

- Sarah Hempel Irani

Parent’s nightmare. What do the kids do whose parents/grownups can’t get them all fancied up with collections and costumes. Haves vs have nots.

- Sarah Brewer Thompson

While I don’t find it offensive, as a first grade teacher I do find dress up days in general to be a nuisance. Nothing is taught or learned on dress up days because it’s all a huge distraction. The kids are feral. Props get lost or broken. Someone always ends up crying. It’s fun in theory, but a hassle in real life.

- Jessie Kuhn

A less-problematic alternative that readers on Facebook touted is having students or staff dress like people who lived 100 years ago. (This can be a parent headache, too, though: It’s unlikely many families have flapper dresses and knickerbockers lying around.)

Involve the elderly

Some commenters on Facebook liked the idea of reaching out to those in the school community that are advanced in age and involving them.

I really like the idea of inviting someone who is over 100 to talk about how the world has changed since he/she was in kindergarten.

- Jason McCully

Inviting a 100 year to visit is a fantastic idea. Imagine what a person this age could teach these little ones!!! Extremely educational.

- Mary Jane Taormina Diaz

We invited grandparents and great grandparents to the 100th day lunch. Everyone had a great time. We did all sorts of math together.

- Christine Volker

What about the 101st day?

We always celebrated the 101st day of school with 101 Dalmatians - wearing Dalmatian shirts, drawing on spots on faces, putting spots on a giant Dalmatian poster that was auctioned off to raise money for the school and watching the movie at the end of the day. Kids had collections of 101 objects, we did things like walking 101 steps, guessing how many steps it took to get to lunch, gym, the playground, etc.

- Ricki Feist

Whatever you do, incorporate math

There was consensus among educators on Facebook that the 100th day of school is a great time to cook up a fun math lesson that incorporates the number 100.

Why not counting for the very young students? Bring in 100 of something: cheerios, beans, whatever. For older elementary students: “here are four random numbers. Devise an equation that can make them equal 100.”

- Leigh Bagwell

I have always bought 100 munchkins at Dunkin’ Donuts, had the class count along as I transferred them to a large tray and then guessed how many each of them would get when we divided them up. I would write guesses on the board and then give everybody 1, then ask if there were enough to do two, etc.

- Suzanne Woolslayer

Get moving

Or how about something to get your students moving? One Facebook commenter plays this popular Jack Hartman exercise video for their second-grade students:

Still feeling short on ideas for the 100th day? Both the website We Are Teachers and publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have some great suggestions.

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