Garden Makeover Project

Three weeks ago, the first and second-graders adopted the garden adjacent to their classroom for a Garden Makeover Project. The “makeover” is 100% student-led and started with a hands-on exploration and assessment of the space with a few initial sketches. In session two, students then brainstormed using what they knew about gardening and what more they needed to learn. Once they had their ideas and questions, they invited our own gardening guest expert, Javier in to share his knowledge and refine their plans. In their third session, students ventured out on a field study to the Moraga Garden Center to get more advice from a local expert and refine their plans.

We look forward to seeing what students will produce as they apply what they have learned in science, social studies, math, and literacy to their Garden Makeover Project. Just as importantly, they will be flexing those mental muscles such as presentation skills, working as a team, assessment, reflection, and collaboration. We are expecting lots of fun, lots of mistakes, lots of discovery, lots of learning, and a great garden. #Saklanexperiential

Middle School Students Live the Mission

Last Thursday on Valentines Day, the middle school went to the Alameda County Community Food Bank. They worked for a little over an hour and helped pack produce to go out to needy families in Alameda County. Our students helped package 7,800 pounds of oranges to go out to those in need: seniors, families and children.
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The students also got a tour of the facility and learned how most of their clients are not who they envisioned to be hungry. Most are people with jobs, who are having to decide between rent or food, or between medicine or food. One in six Alameda County residents receive help from the Food Bank and of them children and elderly make up the largest group. In fact one in every three children are getting help with the assistance of the Food Bank.
We were proud to help such a great organization and live our mission. #Saklancompassionate

Kindergarten Celebrates Day 100

In Kindergarten, Day 100 was the best! First thing, the children had to hunt for 100 candy kisses. Each kiss was numbered, and after they found them the kisses had to be put on our 100 chart. Next, the children had to count 10 of 10 different foods giving them 100 food items to eat for snack.

Finally, the children visited 3 stations completing fun activities. The children had to draw a picture of them self as they would look at 100 years old, build a building with 100 cups, and make a structure using 100 toothpicks and 100 marshmallows. Day 100 is always so fun!

The Great Migration

The Middle School is learning about Jacob Lawrence’s The Great Migration series. Students researched and chose a painting from his 60 panels of work.
The series depicts African Americans from the rural South who migrated to cities in the North due to the lack of social and economic opportunities in the South. The students did a rough sketch of the painting and are finishing the project using a torn paper collage method. #Saklancreative

4th Grade Measures Grams of Sugar in Cereal

The 4th graders each brought in cereal boxes and made predictions on how many grams of sugar per serving each box contained. They got to measure on a scale the amount of grams per serving and put that amount of sugar in a Ziploc.

Students were surprised to know that there are 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon(!) and many of their cereals had several teaspoons of sugar per serving. Students realized that they actually ate more than one serving size recommended by the manufacturer, and so were eating many grams of sugar. They also used their cereal boxes to identify persuasive techniques advertisers used to get people to purchase their cereal. #Saklanhandson

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

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