During January, Saklan students have been focusing on being hardworking. The eighth grade Family Group leaders created a video to explain what hardworking means and how it can help students reach their goals and overcome challenges.

After hearing suggestions from the eighth graders, each of Saklan’s first through seventh graders wrote down one goal, project or activity they want to work hard to accomplish or improve on. Check out the many areas in which our students are working hard!

#SaklanSocialEmotionalLearning #SaklanFamilyGroups

How Many Steps in a Mile?

The students in kindergarten thru eighth grade have been equipped with pedometers while exercising during P.E. lessons. The devices are simple and only measure “steps,” but are equipped with a reset button. P.E. classes have had fun experimenting with what types of activities generate the most movement or steps. Students have had the opportunity to see how dribbling a ball compares to swinging on the swings, and how walking a mile compares to skipping rope. Some of the third graders came to the conclusion that shaking the sensor generates a higher count than spinning it on a finger.  Overall, it appears that students focus on generating a count with their pedometers, and that feedback adds a little extra motivation to continue to exert effort while participating in physical education exercises.

Lucas in kindergarten asked Mr. Crabtree to take a picture of the pedometer he was using in P.E. and send it to his mom, as he was interested in one for home use as well.  For any other parents that have received requests for pedometers, here are the pedometers the students are using at school:


Life Lessons of 2020 in a Zine

What is a zine? A zine is short for Magazine and is a self-made booklet that tells a story, informs about an issue, and is fun to make! It’s origin dates back to 1776, with Thomas Paine’s self-published pamphlet, Common Sense, which advocated for the thirteen colonies to become independent from Great Britain

In returning from Winter Break online and entering into the new year, 1st-8th graders were asked to reflect on what lessons they learned about themselves and the world in 2020 and what they were excited about striving for in 2021. 2020 forced the world to face reality, good or bad, and with so much to learn from, the children triumphed over all of these obstacles to share what they found most rewarding, difficult, and inspiring. In seeing these zines created, we hope it inspires us all to continue to persevere, fight for justice, and take care of each other and ourselves.  

#SaklanCreative #SaklanThoughtful

Collaboration Blocks

Have you heard about Saklan’s collaboration blocks? These large blue blocks have been a favorite recess activity since they were introduced at the beginning of December.

The blocks are manufactured by Imagination Playground, and are designed to allow for open-ended play, giving children the freedom to create and pursue their own play activities. These blocks have produced numerous creations, giving our students the opportunity to not only have fun, but to further develop their logic and mathematical skills, problem solve, use their imaginations, and develop inter and intrapersonal skills.

Working together with classmates to build with the collaboration blocks has provided Saklan’s students with many opportunities for creativity, fun and learning. Check out the pictures below to see some of the creations the students have built.

The collaboration blocks were made possible by gifts to Saklan’s Annual Giving Fund. Saklan relies on the generous support of the community to provide the many extras, like the collaboration blocks, that make Saklan such a vibrant place for children to learn and develop. Thank you to all our generous AGF donors.

#SaklanCreative #MadePossibleByAGFGifts

Invention Convention

After learning about simple machines, the first graders had a guest speaker, Ms. Ginelle Mills, join their class (via Zoom). Ms. Mills is a former Saklan parent and inventor of the Cool Wazoo, a diaper changing pad that converts into a restaurant high chair, swing and shopping cart cover. The first graders enjoyed learning about the process Ms. Mills went through as she created the Cool Wazoo, and about her experience presenting the invention on the ABC hit show, SharkTank.

Following their meeting with Ms. Mills, the first graders set out to use their imaginations and knowledge of simple machines to create their own inventions. Here are the amazing ideas that the scientists brought to life:

  • Sebastien – The Christmas Ornament Hanger
  • Cassidy- The Cooking Robot
  • Carson – The Ball Machine
  • Elise- The Garbage Robot
  • Jimmy – Mouse Trap Racer
  • Sage- The Rainbow Maker
  • Conner-  The Silver Toothbrush
  • Makena- The Strength Tester
  • Cameron – Cameron’s Candy Picker Upper
  • Kingsley – A Poop Picker Upper
  • Airlie-  The Hug Machine

The students were delighted to share their inventions with their peers during their in-class Invention Convention.

#SaklanAcademic #SaklanCreative

Simple Machines

The first graders recently learned about simple machines. The class discussed what work is and what makes work harder or easier. Then they learned about the six simple machines, and how each of them helps make work easier, by participating in a serious of experiments and activities.

The first graders learned about levers and balanced a lever on a fulcrum. They had a bubble race and learned how a wheel and axle makes work easier. They also used a pulley to avoid lifting objects, and had an egg drop challenge. The first graders learned that using an inclined plane makes it easier and safer to move a load. They also made a paper helicopter and learned how a screw works. Lastly, the class made funny faces with persimmons and popsicle sticks and learned that the shape of a wedge was easier to use. The first graders had a great time learning about simple machines through these hands-on, fun experiments.

#SaklanAcademic #SaklanHandsOn

Visiting Moraga Garden Farm

This week, first and second grade classes took the first field experiences of the school year to the Moraga Garden Farm. Field experiences are valuable learning opportunities typically central to education at Saklan. Since March, Saklan has postponed this time-proven ritual, but that did not hamper the kids’ enthusiasm and curiosity while off campus.

The farmers were busy winterizing the farm, and the children saw the community members hard at work. They discussed the many benefits of community farms, such as health and wellbeing, land conservation, shared knowledge, human connection, volunteerism, and being close to the food process. They learned about other types of community gardens worldwide, such as multigenerational allotment gardens in the UK/Europe, market gardens in developing nations, urban gardens and school gardens.

Most trips to the Farm happen during primary growing seasons of late spring and summer, but there was no shortage of exploration and investigation in the winterized version. Students got their hands dirty in the fertile soil while searching for evidence of decomposition and composting. They walked in large composting bins showcasing several stages of organic soil generation. Saklan students learned how organic farming methods can avoid chemicals ending up in the food. Fortunately, the field experience timing was perfect to see the cover crop that had just been planted – fava beans. Fava plants input nitrogen where summer vegetables have depleted the soil, as well as provide weed control, safe harbor for beneficial biodiversity, and reduction in rain erosion.

Lastly, a trip to the Moraga Garden Farm is not complete without a visit with the chickens. Students were extremely curiuos to see chickens during molting season, where old feathers are replaced by new feathers to prepare for winter. This experience was best summed up by a second-grader saying, “you can really see how chickens descended from dinosaurs and maybe aliens too!”


Outer Space Exploration

The first graders have been learning about outer space. They practiced their informational writing skills by creating pop-up books with facts about the planets. The students also created books filled with facts about the sun, moon and stars.

After learning about stars, the first graders had fun using their imaginations and creativity to create their own constellations. Examples of constellations they created include a unicorn, pyramid, sunset, and a mask. The first graders shared their constellations and practiced their public speaking skills by presenting the facts and stories behind their individual constellations to their classmates.  Additionally, the first graders enjoyed learning a star song: 

Star light, star bright.

Constellations, what a sight!

The song was a fun way to wrap up their outer space unit.


First Grade Writing

As they shared in their live Flag presentation last week, the first graders have been learning about writing sentences. They learned a song to help them remember the rules for writing a sentence, including: starting with a capital letter, leaving spaces between words, and adding a punctuation mark at the end. Check out the video of the first graders singing the sentence song at last Friday’s Flag .

First Grade Presents Live during Friday Flag

Now that they have writing a sentence down, the first graders are working on putting together multiple sentences to create stories. They learned that each story has a beginning, middle, and ending, and have been practicing adding all three sections to their writing. The students are also working on adding more details to their stories. Stay tuned for more story writing from first grade in next week’s blog!


1st Grade Community Study

The first grade class recently completed a study on different types of communities. The students learned about rural, urban, and suburban communities from stories such as Town Mouse and Country Mouse.  The first graders also compared communities of two characters named Miss Rumphius, who lives in an urban community, and Miss Arizona, who lives in a rural community. Using Venn diagrams and drawings, the students demonstrated their understanding of the differences and similarities of the two communities.

The first graders also enjoyed learning about producers and the goods they make, including food, toiletries, toys and cars. Each student made a book documenting how they themselves are producers, giving examples of the things they produce, such as cookies, tacos and paintings. They also drew pictures of the items they consume in their daily lives. Additionally, the first graders learned that many community members provide services to their community, including dentists who clean teeth, firefighters who fight fires, and builders who build houses.

For their final activity in the community study, the students created books about the type of community they would like to move to, showcasing their new understanding of the different types of communities and the types of resources that can be found within them.