written by: Pam Cannon
• edited by: Sarah Malburg
• updated: 7/12/2012
Introduce your students to a new day of celebration - the 50th day of school. The following first grade activities will afford opportunities to cover subjects across the curriculum. It will also introduce some history to young students.
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The 50th day of school will vary from place to place depending on the date of the first day of the school year. You may wish to make it the 50th day of school in the year beginning with January 1st. You may wish to count just school days or you may wish to count weekends and holidays as well. This makes it a very flexible day of celebration!
These 50th day of school first grade activities will use children's natural love of large numbers to incorporate subjects across the curriculum.
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Preparations for 50th Day
About a week before the day you have chosen as the 50th day, gather the students together and share a counting book. Count to 50 by 1's, 2's, 5's, and 10's. Ask students what they know about the number 50. Then tell them that you are all going to share a very special day to celebrate the number 50, including the years in the 1950's.
Send home a note to explain to parents about the day and ask if the children may come to school dressed in '50's style clothes. Suggestions for clothing may include jeans rolled up at the ankles and T-shirts for the boys and skirts for the girls, where you could provide poodle shapes cut from felt to pin on them. Also ask if the children may bring to school a collection of 50 objects. Give suggestions such as buttons, cereal pieces glued onto a piece of paper, star stickers, paper clips in a chain, pennies, M&M's, etc.
Obtain some music from the 50's so that it can be played in your classroom on the special day.
Make a very large number 50 out of cardboard and cut out the middle of the zero.
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Activities for the 50th Day
Tape the large number 50 across the classroom doorway and invite your students to step through the zero.
Form a circle and have a look at everyone's 50's style clothes. For students who could not find anything suitable have on hand extra felt poodle shapes for the girls to pin on their sweaters or shirts, and maybe some brightly colored socks for the boys to put on over their own socks.
Gather together and read a book about 50: 50 Below Zero by Robert Munsch. Illustrated by Michael Martchenko. One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab by April Pulley Sayre and Jeff Sayre.
Invite each child who has brought in a collection to show and tell about it and then display the collections on a table in the classroom or in the hall outside the door. During this time, stop every so often and play some music from the 50's and invite the students to dance on the spot or around the room.
Throughout the day, you could serve celery pieces stuffed with cream cheese, or individual chocolate cakes - this was popular food served at parties in the 50's.
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Provide paper with a writing pattern : I wish I had 50 _____________ Ask students to fill in the missing word and illustrate their wish. Assemble all the papers to make a class book.
Provide grocery flyers and catalogues. Ask students to find articles that are 50 cents or $50 and cut and paste onto sheets of paper. Cut out from flyers or newspapers any number 5's or zeroes and use to decorate a piece of paper. Provide small blocks, pattern pieces, corks, pick-up sticks, etc., and ask students to make up a pattern using 50 of the chosen material.
Explain to students that Barbie was born on March 9th, 1959. Invite them to design a piece of clothing for her. Mr. Potato Head was born in the 50's. Draw a series of potatoes and on each one draw a different expression. Draw a picture of how you think you will look when you are 50 years old.
Social Studies Center
The 50th State of the United States is Hawaii. Perhaps you could have a class luau or make a Hawaiian craft such as a lei.
Provide a series of pictures showing people, food, fashion, events, household appliances, a jukebox, a record player, etc., from the 50's. Ask students to draw the equivalent in today's modern style.
Provide hula hoops and invite students to try to "hula" 50 times without stopping.
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At the end of the day, have your first graders get together as a class. Share some samples of work from each center. What was their favorite activity of the 50th day of school?
Ask them: What can we celebrate in another 50 days? This should set the stage for the hundredth day of school celebration!