Moving Up Day!

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Wednesday was a special day for our elementary campus. All of our PS – 5th grade students got to “move up” to next year’s grade for a portion of the morning. This has been an annual tradition so that the students get a snapshot of what next year could be like. The teachers planned special activities that highlighted their grade and enjoyed getting to know their rising students a little better. If your child “moved up” on Wednesday, please ask them all about it. I’m sure they will have something enthusiastic to share! #SaklanConnected

Pop Art and Mexican Paper Mache Fruits and Vegetables


I asked the 1st and 2nd grade, What is POP Art??? We talked about what is popular in today’s American culture and why. During our discussion, I showed them the work of Sculptor Claes Oldenburg, who sculpts large scale everyday objects. To guide the project in a direction based on healthy eating instead of popular junk food sculptures, the students chose their favorite fruit or vegetable to make. Their inspiration was the Mexican Folk Artists who create paper mache fruits and vegetables that are widely collected as works of art today. They could make their fruit or vegetable to scale or they could exaggerate the size like Pop Artist Claes Oldenburg did.


Having some of the fruits and vegetables to view while sculpting helped the students understand shape and form more clearly. After creating the form using newspaper and tape, the students had fun doing the paper mache. Once hardened, they painted their work with attention to detail. Learning that each fruit and vegetable has unique qualities to paint. We are in the process of making the large fruit bowl and will segway into learning about still life painting . Once we are all done with the making, we will play a fun game to learn the Spanish word for each fruit and vegetable made. The students are loving their fruits and veggies! #SaklanWellRounded

West African Music and Dance

Saklan’s West African Music and Dance program is taking off thanks to last year’s fund-a-need which allowed us to purchase a set of drums from Ghana. The 4th and 5th grades are learning a social dance called “Agahu” which involves a complex call and response choreography between the Lead Drummer and the Dancers. The after school drumming class is a great way for students to get more practice and instruction on the drumming techniques used for Agahu. The ensemble is starting to sound great! They will be ready to play drums for the dancers at the Annual Spring Concert in March. #SaklanHandsOn

Alumni Corner

Earlier this month, 2010 Saklan graduate Nick Barendregt stopped by to visit some of his former teachers. During his visit he connected with Miss Obenchain, Miss Kim and Mr. P, all teachers who could share great stories of how Nick’s curiosity, creativity and courage set him up for success in life. Nick, who started at Saklan as a preschooler in 1999, graduated from Saklan to go on to The College Preparatory School in Oakland. He then went on to complete  his undergraduate work in Applied Mathematics from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. Nick has now started his full scholarship doctoral program in Applied Mathematics at the University of Colorado.


Nick’s current research at the University of Colorado revolves around creating mathematical models to explain how the brain accumulates and weighs evidence when making decisions. Nick “happened” upon this course of study in a typical Saklan student way. He was driven by curiosity and encouragement from his teachers to further explore questions and wonderings he had about how math might apply to the brain.

Nick’s visit is not only a testament to the power of  the Saklan approach to learning, but also highlights that strong relationships and passion are key to creating lifelong learners. We look forward to hearing more from Nick in the not too distant future. #SaklanConnected #SaklanConfident

California Missions

Last week, the 4th graders braved the rain and went to their first field trip of the year: Mission Dolores in San Francisco. History comes alive when students are able to see in person items learned from books. This was such an excellent learning experience and students are even more motivated to return to the classroom and build their individual missions. #SaklanExperiential

Head’s Corner

Trying New Things

One of those things that I appreciate about the Saklan community is its openness to try new things. This attitude demonstrates a willingness to take a risk, make yourself vulnerable and learn from mistakes. One such example is our Lower School teachers and their Learning Exhibition set for January 31st from 3:30 to 5:30 pm.


Over the past couple months, Liz Peters (our Lower School Dean) has been discussing with teachers how we can share, in a real way, what amazing things we do with kids. The teachers decided that an exhibition of learning where all parents can tour all classrooms and meet teachers and students from across the grade levels would be fun. Fun yes, extra work yes, slightly scary.. maybe.

Doing something new that is also public can be scary, but is good for us. It focuses our minds on what is important, creates opportunities for collaboration and learning while simultaneously  providing us with valuable feedback from a real world audience. Most importantly though, by putting ourselves out there, we are modeling for students what real learners do.

At Saklan, we talk about the importance of hands-on real world experiences – we just don’t talk the talk, we walk the walk. I hope you will be able to join us on the 31st for this “New Thing” and be an integral part of our learning.

Warm regards,


How Does the MLK Memorial Represent US Cultural Values?

For the grand finale of the Washington D.C. project this year, the 8th graders had a complete freedom of choice in terms of how they could approach a multimedia presentation on their subject matter. Just like with their essays, the primary guiding principle was that they would have to prove their argument with plenty of evidence from their research. Ari Tamkin went above and beyond with this animated video on Civil Rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. The question she was answering: “How does the MLK memorial represent US cultural values?” Check out her response above!

Fourth Grade Biographies

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The fourth graders each selected a different biography to read! Students were practicing their expository writing skills through organization, thesis statement, main ideas, supporting details, and were able to write 5 paragraph essays.

Each student also wrote a short speech, dressed up as the person they studied, and presented at flag. They gave incredible words of wisdom (famous quotes) that were meaningful to them. After flag, parents were invited back to the classroom to enjoy the full reports. Nicely done, fourth grade Bookworms!

Kindergarten Bead Making

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The Kindergarten had fun making ceramic beads and constructing their own one of a kind necklaces. After showing some examples of beads in different materials such and glass, wood, stone, and ceramic, they learned the basics of how clay works. They took a little trip to our kiln room and saw our new tool ‘the kiln’ that finishes the beads. They know when the clay is wet you can shape it and when the clay is dry it is ready to be fired.

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When the beads were finished, the students arranged them in order of how they wanted to string them and used factory made beads as extra fillers. Our little Kindergartners have some fashionable jewelry and design skills!

Second Grade STEAM Project

Second graders have been stretching their STEAM muscles during their Fairy Tale Unit. They designed, created, reviewed and improved upon a design to help Jack and his giant distribute eggs from high up the beanstalk.

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