Today my class of Experience Corps students celebrated their 100th day of school! When I got to school the teacher had placed “100th day of school” signs all over the walls. To celebrate, the children made crowns with a “100″ featured prominently on the front, and decorated their headband with 100 hearts, numbers, triangles, dots, letters-whatever they were moved to create. And even if they didn’t get 100 “somethings” down on the paper, when the adults stapled the bands to fit the kids’ heads, they all looked stunning-especially as a group.
The class then read The 100th Day of School as a shared reading. That means the teacher reads aloud and the children follow along, pointing to the sequence of words as they are spoken. I sat with my kids and pointed to the words while they took turns pointing with me. The exercise builds their recognition of “words” in sentence form, even if the word is not in their vocabulary. So, while they may not be capable of recognizing the word “because,” they are learning that it is the 4th word in the sentence and seeing it in a sentence frame.
After the shared reading, the teacher gathered all the boys and girls back together to work on a numbers exercise. All year long they have been learning to count to 100, with a particular emphasis on counting by 10′s as a guide.
Here’s what happened: She placed 100 chocolate kisses throughout the classroom-in some easy and some not so easy places to find-and then the kids went on a hunt. Each kiss had a number written on the bottom, so each child took their random “finds” back to their seats. Then they placed each kiss with its number on a corresponding sheet labeled 1-100. As the teacher called out the numbers, each kid brought up their kiss until there were 100 kisses lined up neatly in rows on her master sheet.
The morning was full of fun and learning, and that’s the kind of engagement kids need on celebratory occasions like this. It’s the oldest formula in the world. Horace, Aristotle and others said it a long, long time ago: the best way to teach is to both “delight and instruct.”
You can learn more about Experience Corps and how to get involved here.
Photo by Robert Hodder