Head’s Corner

Waialae Charter School of Hawaii Visits Saklan


In early January, I received an email from Lianna Lam, the Board Chair of the Waialae Elementary School in Hawaii. She wrote to share that they had heard great things about Saklan’s program and were interested in visiting us to learn more.

Specifically, Lianna wanted to know about two specific aspects of what we do at Saklan: our mission of Creativity, Compassion and Courage and our social-emotional learning (SEL) program.

While I love talking about our mission and how we work with students on a social-emotional level, what I valued most from Lianna’s visit was how much it made me reflect on our program. It was clear from talking with her how unique and powerful our mission and SEL program are. Moreover, what became even more clear to me was the commitment and talent of our faculty and staff.

We have been promoting Saklan as a “Lighthouse” for education, and a place where others will come and see what things are possible in education when you put Creativity, Compassion and Courage front and center. What I did not expect is how much we can learn when teaching others. #SaklanLighthouse

Warm regards,


In the Art Room: K-8th Auction Art Project

The Kindergarten class is the first group of kids to start the Auction Art Project. Each grade will learn about the African-American Expressionist Painter Alma Woodsey Thomas (1891-1978).

Each grade will create a finger painting design inspired by the work of Thomas. It was extra special to introduce Thomas to the Kindergarten because she was a teacher and artist as well. She taught Kindergarten for 38 years in the Public School system of Washington D.C. Her artwork is displayed in the Hirshhorn Museum (D.C.), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY), National Museum of Women in the Arts (D.C.), and the White House Historical Association, just to name a few!

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The Kindergartners expressed so much happiness seeing Thomas’s work and were super excited to start finger painting! #Saklanwellrounded

Gung Hay Fat Choi!

The Hoot Owls learned about Lunar New Year. Happy year of the pig!


Cameron’s mom, Sandy, visited the Hoot Owls and shared with them traditional ways to celebrate Chinese New Year. Cameron passed out red envelopes filled with lucky coins for all the Hoot Owls. Sandy told the Hoot Owls that if they placed the envelope under their pillow and made a wish, it would almost certainly come true! The students also made pretend firecrackers with red paper. They learned that the color red scares off bad spirits and brings good luck. The Hoot Owls were also lucky enough to sample some traditional Chinese New Year treats made with crispy rice and pineapple.

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Thank you so much, Cameron and Sandy, for sharing your family’s traditions with us! #Saklanwellrounded

4th Grade Spirit Animal Vessels

The very first part of this project starts with the Egyptian Canopic Jars. Each vessel has a different head as the lid (4 Sons of Horus): a human, hawk, baboon, and jackal. Each protected a part of the body. I asked the students, what do you want your vessel to protect and why? After the little history lesson, the students began making the vessel. They started building a basic coil pot and had some height requirements to reach, so the students made sure to measure their vessel as they kept building. After the vessel was complete, they got to start of the lid, which brings us to the spirit animal part.

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Miss Natalie asked the class, if you could be any animal, what would you be and why? After some fun discussion, the students took a quiz that would reveal their “true” spirit animal. Almost all of the students identified with their given spirit animal. Some did not match with the animals they chose personally but were excited and motivated after reading why the quiz had given them a specific animal. They were given the choice to accept the given spirit animal from the quiz or the animal they personally resonate with. They printed out several perspectives of each animal head and began sculpting! The students are so excited for their project to get fired in the kiln because that means next week we can start glazing! #Saklancreative

Beep! Beep!


The Owlets had so much fun learning about Transportation in January. They learned what transportation is and the different types of transportation such as airplanes, helicopters, hot air balloons, boats, ships, car, trucks, big rigs, bikes and trains. They learned that the first successful airplanes were invented by Orville and Wilbur Wright; they learned who flies the plane (pilot and co-pilot); they learned that transportation can go by roads, air, sea, and tracks. One of the last things we talked about were the signs that are posted for vehicles to follow – what they mean and why they are important. Please ask your Owlet to share what they remember with you!

To end the unit, the Owlets got to ride the school bus around the block. They also brought in their own modes of transportation: a bike or a scooter and they rode them around. It was a lot of fun! #Saklanexperiental

3rd Grade Weaving Project Continued…

After finishing their clay looms, the third graders used watercolor to paint the bisque ware. Using watercolor instead of glaze, the students can blend and overlay multiple colors. Miss Natalie sprayed the looms with a clear glaze overcoat before they started weaving.

Here, the students are learning to set up their warp yarn and begin the center of their circular weaving. The students worked together to help one another when we got a little stuck in the process. It was a great day of teamwork and problem solving. They were surely proud with the progress they made on their weavings! Next week, they will continue weaving with a second color.

First Grade Science

The first graders have been learning about penguins. First, they presented their group penguin posters to the rest of the class. They wrote a list of notes about the things they learned from each other and then they wrote penguin facts inside their cute penguins they made. They had fun walking like penguins with the help of an egg made out of play dough, and experimenting with feathers and blubber. They learned that penguins spend a lot of time applying wax to their outer feathers. The wax comes from a gland at the base of their tail. They use their beak to apply it. To find out how waxy feathers help penguins, the first graders did an experiment called Drenched and Dry.

To end their Penguin Unit, Mr. O’Connell visited the first grade class and read a book about the “Lost and Found Penguin.” The book is a profound story about the importance of friendship between a boy and a penguin. Thank you, Mr. O’Connell!

All About Polar Bears

Kindergartners have been very busy with STEAM activities and learning about polar bears. To understand polar bears…

the children tried to smell a Swedish fish hidden in an ice cube,

“swam” on mats from ice floe to ice floe,

felt ice cubes with and without a layer of blubber (saran wrap) and made bear biscuits.


Kindergartners also read books about bears including The Three Polar Bears, by Jan Brett. At the Lower School Exhibition they shared their work with families and friends.

State Reports

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Fifth grade students have been working hard on their State Reports. Students researched many important facts pertaining to their chosen state. Each report consisted of well written sections and students also drew maps, state birds, state flowers and state flags for their reports. As a family project, students created a State Float.



Floats were required to have specific facts as well as extra information the students found fascinating. How those state facts were represented on the float was up to their imagination. It was interesting to see all of the creativity in each of State Floats. Students and their families did such an amazing job!

Native American Studies in 3rd Grade

Third graders have been learning about Native Americans and got to enhance their classroom studies by visiting the Museum of the American Indian in Novato.

They enjoyed hearing stories about how the Coast Miwok tribe lived harmoniously with the land. The students got to learn how two types of Miwok homes are built (and go inside one of them) and experienced drilling a shell with a pump drill to make a necklace. It was a wonderful experience that really brought their learning to life.