SPRING HILL — First-graders are small and youthful. But something about them was different Jan. 30 at Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics. Something was not quite right. They looked, well, old — really old.
"It's the 100th day of school," said first-grade teacher Laura Holmes, "so that's what we asked our kids to do, is dress like they're 100 today."
And many of them did. They hobbled around on canes and walkers. They wore glasses and hats or had graying hair pulled back into buns.
"Everything is about 100 today," Holmes said.
In first-grade teacher Bonnie Brockhoff's classroom, students were having what she called a "working lunch." The children were eating pizza while counting and graphing the 100 items topping the picture pizzas each student had.
Besides sneaking math into the 100-day theme, Brockhoff's and first-grade teacher Brittney Gariepy's classes rewrote the poem 100 Animals by Karen Fenstermaker into 100 Migrating Animals and 100 Hibernating Animals.
The activity added language arts and science lessons into the mix. The poems included facts about habitats, use of adjectives and writing conventions, which Brockhoff explained are "everything that makes a clear, stretched sentence to paint a great picture in the mind of the reader."
Meanwhile, kindergarteners had been busy celebrating the 100th day of school in their own way, and that was on display in the school's mall area.
"Each student has to count out any item that they want and display it in a creative way," said kindergarten teacher Jessica Nicolai.
And they certainly were creative. There were poster boards with 100 cotton balls, pieces of macaroni, paper snowflakes, ink thumbprints, dried beans, photos and stickers.
There was a rocket made of pennies, a birthday cake made from lollipops and a colored cereal loops necklace. Children used jelly beans, balloons, crayons, Legos and Goldfish crackers to create their 100-day art.
There were other activities as well.
Nicolai said students were asked to write their names as many times as possible in 100 seconds; they exercised for 100 seconds; they were quiet for 100 seconds (a teacher favorite), and they went around their classrooms looking for 100 words they could read.
They also practiced math by manipulating Skittles candies into 10 sets of ten, five sets of 20, four sets of 25 and two sets of 50.
The 100th day of school is something to celebrate, Brockhoff explained, because "students are more than halfway through to their next grade level."