When I was in kindergarten, I found my power in story dictation. I was a quiet kid and I didn’t have a voice in my boisterous family. Each week, a volunteer parent sat with me listening intently and typing my words­, like they mattered. I illustrated my work with a free hand (no coloring book lines for me struggle to stay inside). I was—for a moment—unhindered and unleashed. I was safe from the critical snark of big brothers, always at the ready to defeat my whimsical inspirations.


There were a lot of rocket launches that kindergarten year, as the US kept steely eyes on a moonshot. I remember owls still hooting in the dark when mom urged us out of bed to watch the blast-offs beaming to our TV. I caught her enthusiasm and wrote and illustrated my first space story (it was epic!):

“My father and my brother are going on a rocket.”

On A Rocket

There were over a billion people that watched the moon landing. I did not miss it. I was taken by the enormity of the event, and fell in love with NASA when I saw this happening:

NASA inspiration for Planet Kindergarten: 100th day of school projects

(Photo Courtesy of NASA)

All of these people were working with calm, clear communications, and focus on one giant goal together. And when two astronauts bounced onto the moon, the engineers were jubiliant:

NASA inspiration for Planet Kindergarten: 100th day of school projects

(Photo Courtesy of NASA)

Together, we can dream big, communicate, work hard and celebrate great things.

Those are life lessons I took from NASA and the Apollo 11 mission. Those are the seeds for my writing.

Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days in Orbit 

In my new book, Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days in Orbit (sequel to Planet Kindergarten, May 2015, Chronicle Books) our boy hero feels like he must steer the course and single-handedly save the day.


Planet Kindergarten 100th day of school projects


This increasing pressure leads him to a disaster that is too big to handle solo. He discovers he doesn’t have to go it alone and that his team is at the ready to help to solve the problem.


Planet Kindergarten 100th day of school project


I see the 100th day not only as a celebration of the journey where many problems have been solved, and counting lessons have been learned, but a chance to highlight the uniqueness of each child.

So, rather than have kids bring in 100th day of school projects that are easy (okay, my daughter went for the 100 pennies)—I love to see them with projects that reflect who they are and what they love to do.

100th Day of School Projects for Every Type of Student

In Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days in Orbit, our kindernaut characters, beautifully brought to the page by Dreamworks/Disney animator Shane Prigmore, arrive at school with 100th day of school projects that suit many different types of kids:

1. 100 Aliens:

For the imaginative kids who love sci-fi (e.g. Star Wars)—they will likely slip into playing with them and creating far flung exo-worlds with cryo-volcanoes as they count.

2. 100 oz of Goo:

For the tactile kids who loves to squish things—mud, playdough, their sandwich—adding some glow powder kicks it up a notch.

3. 100 Gears/Levers:

For the engineers, assembling their own Mission Control is a blast!

4. 100 Springs:

For the science minded kids to experiment with principles of tension, or the design-minded kid to explore shapes and their uses.

5. 100 Star Cookies:

For the bakers and foodies (allergy-free for classmates of course if they plan to share).

6. 100 Legos:

For the budding builder/architect.

7. 100 Crayons:

For the artists (and a picture drawn with all those colors).

8. 100-piece Puzzle:

For the critical thinkers and game-lovers.

And a Whole Class 100th Day of School Project…

The 100th day of school is also a celebration of cooperation and teamwork. And while some classes share individual projects, some teachers prefer one class project. Here is one that I love to do on class visits that can be adapted to a 100th day of school project:

Create a galaxy! Use a black tri-fold board and give each child a construction paper circle (planet) to decorate and name (warning there will be a bunch of planets named Puppy and Kitty).  Divide up 100 stars among the students to stick or glue them on (I started with one big sun in the middle). I love how this project sparks the kids imaginations and interest in space.

Find me on Facebook: PlanetKindergarten, Twitter: @planetkbooks or at www.sueganzschmitt.com and share your favorite 100 day ideas.

Here’s to day 101 and beyond!