The Power of Saklan

The Saklan School is a special community whose essence is often easier to capture through the senses than with words. Perhaps sometimes it is easier to feel than to describe. Families and teachers feel connected and purposeful. Students are engaged and confident. Academics are challenging and meaningful.

It is the essence of Saklan that founded our mission to Think Creatively, Act Compassionately, and Live Courageously. These same principles have laid the groundwork for our school’s growth and longevity. As we continue our 66th year, we would like to focus on the Power of Saklan. To that end, we have created three new videos to help identify and explain the fundamentals of who we are as a community and why families continue to find a home at Saklan.

It is our hope that these videos have captured the spirit of Saklan, and that you see within them why you are part of our community. We hope you are inspired by these videos and share them with friends, family, and colleagues.


Why Do You Donate?


“Every year when we donate to the Annual Giving Fund, we know we are investing in not only in our daughter’s future but in the future of all current and prospective Saklan students. The money we give goes directly to the school through educational programs, financial aid and faculty development classes that help make Saklan the amazing school that it is.”

Bo and Geri Buhl
Bjerre Buhl, 6th grade


Fourth Grade Personal Narratives

Fourth graders have connected reading to writing in their personal narrative unit. After learning that stories follow a plot diagram, they were ready to tackle their first fictional personal narrative. They aren’t silly enough to start their stories in a boring, predictable way, but have learned four interesting hooks to engage their audience.

At Friday Flag, they read their “Great Beginnings” by sharing the first sentence of their haunted mansion story. They could begin with an action, dialogue, thought, question, or sound beginning. Wow! What a difference!

4th at Flag

Fourth graders were proud to present their “Spooky Forest” stories to parents. They showed off their new skills of great beginnings, building suspense, word choice, similes and metaphors, all while following their plot diagram format. They sure were spooky!

4th Presentation

They loved presenting a second time to their second grade buddies. They got to catch the vision to read quality books to help them become amazing authors. Fourth graders learned how powerful it is to paint a picture in the minds of those who read or hear their stories! They look forward to carrying these skills on to their next expository unit!


Atomic Attire

The 8th grade has been learning about the periodic table. From researching what all the symbols mean to understanding what the atomic number and atomic mass tell us about each element, they are becoming more comfortable every day.

They have been working on their atomic attire shirt. Each student picked one element they wanted to get to know more about. They designed a shirt for it to show off and model for you all. While our 8th graders are still figuring out what they want to be, some may have the skills to be runway models! Click below to check out their video.


Fall Family Get Together

Pumpkin Carving Picture

Although this fall has been challenging for many of our families with power outages and fires, it was the intense winds that changed the course of our Pumpkin Decorating and Carving Get Together last weekend. Moraga Commons was blowing too intensely to make it an enjoyable afternoon. We would still like to give much love and appreciation to Lori O’Keefe and the PA for organizing and planning an enticing fall gathering for our community. The number of RSVP’s is a great indicator that we would love to continue this tradition for years to come. Thank you again, Lori, for the inspiration!


Dry Ice Experiment

8th grade is in the middle of their chemistry unit. They have been learning about the periodic table and different properties of these elements. This week, the 8th grade was looking at boiling and freezing points. It’s hard to imagine a liquid oxygen molecule or a solid gas since we are used to living at a comfortable climate. So to understand this, students investigated dry ice or frozen carbon dioxide. At a cool -109 degrees F (approximately) and the classroom at a temperature of 68 degrees F, this drastic temperature change creates a sublimation state change for the dry ice; it changes straight from a solid to a gaseous form.

Students began to understand how the quick change creates a dense gas or fog coming off the dry ice. This dense air sank and created a bubble of air the students could use to float the block on top of the counter. They pushed pennies into the block to see how matter responds at that temperature and how solid gases react to warmer solids colliding into them. By adding water to the block, they saw the water bubble (boil) with white gas filled bubbles and then freeze the water they had once put over the dry ice.


They then related their understanding of what was happening in our solar system. As frozen gases orbit through space, when they come close to stars, they melt, much like our dry ice was doing on the table, and produce a gaseous tail. We recognize these orbiting frozen gas balls as comets.


Mexican Folk Art


The Day of the Dead or Día de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout México and, in recent years, it has been adopted by the U.S. On this day, families and friends come together to honor those who have passed and help support their spiritual journey.


The students learned about the Mexican folk art called “hojalatería y pintura.” They created embossed metal folk art – a technique that raises a 2-dimensional image into 3-dimensional. With embossing, students crafted traditional Mexican imagery.


They also made flores de papel china (tissue paper flowers) to decorate the arch for Día de Los Muertos. It is believed that the strong scent of the colorful flowers can guide the souls from cemeteries to their family homes.


Kindergarten Studies Owls

Kindergartners have been having fun with Science by studying owls. The students can tell how many bones an owl has in its neck compared to a human and the difference between our eyes and an owl’s eyes. They learned an owl’s most powerful sense (note how all we do is related) is the sense of hearing. And, did you know owls do not build nests?


Finally, the class discovered what owls eat by dissecting an owl pellet. Using tools borrowed from Ms. O’s Science lab and a chart, the students noted skulls of birds and rodents, jaw bones and leg bones. The class heard some wonderful stories about owls including, Owl Moon, White Owl, Barn Owl, and our favorite, Owl Babies. Next time you are in the Kidnergarten room, notice the children’s paintings depicting a scene from Owl Babies.

The class ended their study of owls with the field experience of a visit from Lindsay Wildlife Museum where the children compared owl wings to hawk wings, touched talons from an owl, and saw a live barn owl similar to the one in the book we read. Kindergartners love owls!


Sixth Grade Math

In Math, the sixth graders have been working with positive and negative integers. Addition of integers was introduced with Cecil, an acrobat who can move forward and backward on a tight rope. Using their computers, the students investigated how Cecil could travel along tight ropes of different lengths. They had to combine positive and negative integers to successfully navigate the increasingly difficult challenges.

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To continue this idea, Mr. Zippin introduced Integer Tiles. The Integer Tiles are small plus and minus pieces that represent positive and negative one. By laying out 5 plus tiles, we represent the number 5. If we lay out 3 minus pieces, we represent the number -3. By combining these eight tiles we are representing the expression 5 + (-3).  The students noticed that the three plus pieces, when combined with three minus pieces made three zeros. After discussing the identity property of addition, they knew that adding these three zeros did not change the sum so the total value of the expression was 2.


El Corazon del Pueblo

Second and third graders have been learning about Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Spanish class. Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink and celebration. A blend of Mesoamerican ritual, European religion and Spanish culture, the holiday is celebrated each year on November 1-2. This holiday involves family and friends gathering to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and helping support their spiritual journey. In Mexican culture, death is viewed as a natural part of the human cycle. Mexicans view it not as a day of sadness but as a day of celebration because their loved ones awake and celebrate with them. In 2008, the tradition was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using calaveras, Aztec marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. Visitors also leave possessions of the deceased at the graves.

Sugar skulls represent a departed soul, it has the name written on the forehead and is placed on the home ofrenda or gravestone to honor the return of a particular spirit. Sugar skull art reflects the folk art style of big happy smiles, colorful icing and sparkly tin and glittery adornments.

Last week, second and third graders went on a field experience to El Corazon de Pueblo in Oakland to make sugar skulls. Students were very excited to learn how to make the dough for sugar skulls, put them in molds and then decorate them with colorful icing.