After I found out that the 100th day of school wasn't going to be the extravaganza it has been in years past, I had to come up with a way my class would commemorate the occasion. Some teachers ask their students to do projects where they bring in 100 of an item, but I honestly didn't want my classroom cluttered with collections of 100 coins or crayons or toothpicks in ziplock baggies. So I decided to make that an optional project, with a note on the homework sheet that says children who do participate will be "eligible for a special prize."
I am giving a 100 days homework sheet with very simple fill-in-the-blanks: "I wish I had 100 _______. I could eat 100 ______, but I would never eat 100 ______." My favorite one is "Miss Brave has told me 100 times to _______." (I gave the class a special preview of this one, and one of my chattiest students shouted, "Be quiet!" Ding ding ding, we have a winner!) I also have a few activities for us to do in class that shouldn't be too taxing: Write the letters in your name over and over in a grid with 100 squares and then color in the first letter to see what the pattern looks like; count up the tickets in our class ticket jar to see if we have fewer or more than 100; lick a lollipop 100 times and see what it looks like, etc. But everything else I found online seemed too expensive (I spend a fortune already on school supplies, am I really going to buy 100th day glasses?) or too complicated (each of the 28 students in my class is going to make a necklace with 100 beads without making an enormous mess? yeah right).
Then I found this great lesson plan, for which I can't take credit, about collecting 100 acts of kindness in honor of the 100th day of school. (The lesson plan ties in to Martin Luther King, which I didn't explicitly do.) So I set up this giant posterboard with a grid of 100 numbers on it. I printed labels (which I bought at Staples) that say, "I caught _____ being kind! Here is what I saw." Each label is the size of one of the numbered boxes on our posterboard. On Monday, I told the kids that we were going to be "kindness detectives" and try to catch each other (along with our teachers, friends, family members, etc.) in the act of being kind. We talked about how all the little things we do for each other every day (like lending someone a pencil or helping someone pick up something they dropped) is an act of kindness. Then we got the ball rolling by writing about a time when we were kind to someone else. (I wanted to get all the "I did something kind!" stuff out of the way right off the bat, and for the rest of the project they are not allowed to catch themselves being kind.) Anyone who is "caught being kind" gets to wear a smiley sticker that says, "I was caught being kind!"
I was a little nervous about how they would react to all the touchy-feely kindness stuff -- for young kids, my class is usually a pretty skeptical group -- but I have to say they are doing a fantastic job. We are up to 82 acts of kindness and counting -- everything from lending someone an eraser to sitting with someone who was alone. Jason -- who says things like, "Move it, sissy" to other boys in the class -- has been caught being kind multiple times and has been thrilled to pieces about it. Ariela, who is always kind to her classmates and who has already been Student of the Month, told me with a shy and proud smile that she had seen her name on the "kindness board." During our science experiment, when I against my better judgement trusted my kids to be able to pour dirt/rock mixtures into containers, I witnessed Bryce (the king of personal space) and Felix working together: "You hold the cup still! I'll pour!" When they were done, they said, "Yay, we did it!" and gave each other a high five. I swear to you, it was like an afterschool special. I "kindness boarded" them myself for that one.
I love this project -- which, by the way, I researched in my own time and bought my own materials -- far more than I have ever loved (or even liked or merely tolerated) any of the boring, repetitive, droning, rote learning teaching points that are supplied to me by my administration. I don't have any way of checking it off on a checklist, or of entering into a data field, but to me it's still a lesson that's valuable, and I'm so glad I've taken the time to teach it in my classroom.