Today, my son’s elementary school is hosting their 100th Day of School Walk-a-Thon. It’s essentially another fundraiser for the school, with the goal of each child collecting $100 (at least) for the first 100 days of school.
When I taught kindergarten, the 100th Day of School was a big deal. Kids were learning that zeros mattered, that a zero didn’t always mean “nothing.” After all, there’s a big difference between 1 and 10, and between 10 and 100. (In fact, my personal essay, “Zero the Hero” was included in Ka-Pow!, an anthology about superheroes).
On the 100th day of school, my kindergartners participated in a variety of 100-themed activities. They would do 100 jumping jacks, build a tower with 100 blocks, clap their hands 100 times, take 100 steps around the classroom. Each child would share their 100 Collection with the class. (Pennies were always common). And we’d celebrate with a special treat. One year, I brought in a large sheet cake, and we piled on 100 different toppings!
When I moved to 4th grade, the 100th day of school wasn’t emphasized the same way. Naturally, by this time, kids that age (my son’s age) have an understanding about zeros. Still, I felt that completing 100 days of anything was a milestone that should be recognized. So my students and I did. We wrote a list of “100 Reasons Why We Love Our Class.” And we celebrated with a special snack — 100th Day Trail Mix. I’d partner my students up, and they’d count out 100 raisins, 100 mini marshmallows, 100 chocolate chips, 100 pretzels, 100 Cheerios, and so on. We’d mix it all up creating our class trail mix, and then each child got a cupful to enjoy.
Those are the things I miss most about teaching. Giving my students those extra experiences. My son loves his school and his teachers, but there’s always a part of me that is sad that they don’t do for him what I used to do for my students.
Because those are the things kids remember. Those are the things that stand out. Because those are the things I remember too.