Lunar New Year

First graders welcomed the Year of the Rabbit last week with some special activities. On Tuesday, Jen, a first grade parent, came to class to talk about Lunar New Year, which is observed not just in China but in countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan and Korea. She also led the class in making stunning dragon puppets.

The learning continued when the class went on a virtual field experience to the Asian Art Museum. They listened intently as a master storyteller told the legend of Nien, a monster who terrorized villagers and led them to scare him away with loud noises, the color red and fire- the beginnings of Chinese New Year. The class also listened to the story behind the Chinese zodiac animals.  

The class continued their learning and festivities this week as well. Today they marked the end of the 15-day festival by making lanterns, having a Lantern Festival party in class, and joining the second graders for a dragon parade around campus.

May the Year of the Rabbit be prosperous for all!


On Thursday afternoon, Saklan’s 1st – 8th graders met with their family groups to discuss this month’s SEL topic: self-discipline.

The groups began by discussing what self-discipline means: recognizing or identifying that you need to help yourself to achieve a goal, task, assignment, etc. and being able to get yourself back on track.

Then the students watched this video of a lovable monster using tools to help stay on task! After the video they discussed the strategies the monster used: counting to 4, singing, imagining a cookie was a grandmother. The students then brainstormed additional strategies that could help them stay on task.

Each family group then used their list of strategies to act out self-disciplined ways to handle the following scenarios:

  • Someone cuts you in line.
  • You are having a hard time raising your hand, and keep calling out.
  • You are sad because you forgot your lunch.
  • You and your friend cannot stop giggling!
  • You are nervous/stressed over a test.
  • You are mad because someone grabbed the ball you were playing with and is now using it without asking.

The family groups ended their time together by creating posters showcasing suggestions to help others practice self-discipline in specific circumstances. Check out their posters below!


From Antarctica to 1st Grade

The 1st grade class listened with rapt attention as Ms. O, Saklan’s Science Teacher, gave a special presentation on the penguins she saw during her recent visit to Antarctica. The first grade class has been learning about puffins and penguins this winter, and Ms. O’s presentation was definitely the highlight of their unit! She shared some fascinating photos and stories of her expedition to the white continent.

During her presentation, the first graders learned about some curious penguin behaviors, like how Adelie penguins build their nests with stones, which they sometimes steal from each other; or, how penguins prefer to travel on well trodden ‘penguin highways’ when walking to and from their colonies (it uses up less energy than waddling through the thick snow).

Together with lots of beautiful photos and close up videos of penguins and other animals of Antarctica, Ms. O’s talk deepened the first graders’ understanding of Antarctica and penguins.

A big thank you to Ms. O for sharing her time and wisdom with the first graders! 

Festival of Lights

This week, many Saklan students learned about Diwali, which is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs around the world, including some of our students! Diwali is the festival of lights and lasts for 5 days in October or November. The students read books to get a better understanding of the festival, and then participated in some celebratory activities.

The Owlets and Hoot Owls learned about an art form called Rangoli, a geometric design on the floor (or other flat surface) made using colored rice, sand, dry flour, or flower petals. The owls watched a video of someone creating a Rangoli, and then made their own.

The Kindergarteners and first graders made lanterns that they were able to take home. They decorated their lanterns using stickers and markers, and were excited to spread light!

A big thank you to the parents who came in to share their family Diwali traditions with our students!

#SaklanDiversity #SaklanCommunity

Role of the Library in Moraga

First graders visited the Moraga Library as part of their community study. Ms. Nerit, the head librarian, read stories to the class and sang songs too. The students learned about the role a library plays in a community and discussed the differences between public libraries and school libraries. They also talked about how borrowing a library book is different from buying books in a bookstore. Ms. Nerit showed the first graders examples of damaged books and taught the students how to take care of books properly, so they can continue to be a usable resource for the entire community. The class also got to take a tour the library.

Before the first graders left the library, they were able to borrow books from the library, checking them out using their own library cards!


First Family Group Meeting

On Friday, September 30th, the Saklan first through eighth graders met with their family groups for the first time this year! During the meeting, the students in each group introduced themselves and shared one or two of their favorite things. Then each group had a discussion of what is means to be accepting, including why it is important that we are all accepting of others. They then played a game to help them learn something new about everyone in their group, as sometimes its hard to know someone and accept someone for who they are when you don’t know much about them.

The 8th graders then explained to their family group that as they go through the year together, they are a group or team made up of awesome individuals and they each bring their own strengths to the group. Some may have amazing sports or singing talents. Some maybe be amazing observers, or great listeners. Others might be a great friend to those around them.

Each member of the group was then given a puzzle piece to draw or decoratively write what they feel makes them special or amazing! These puzzle pieces were then all put together, showing that all members of each family group all are important members of the group. Check out their puzzles below!

#FamilyGroups #SaklanSEL #SaklanCompassionate


Last Friday morning there was much excitement on campus as we kicked off our learning buddy program for the year! Learning buddies are a purposeful way to encourage cross-grade friendships, help students develop a sense of responsibility and practice mentorship, and make learning fun!

During the first meeting, the buddies took time to get to know each other and did some reading together.

The older buddies marvelously modeled good reading behaviors by reading with expression and fluency for their younger buddies. Some of the older buddies were also honored to listen to their younger buddies read too.

The younger buddies thoroughly enjoyed getting to know their learning buddies, and are already asking when they get to meet with their buddies again!

#SaklanBuddies #SaklanCommunity

Moving Up Day

This morning, all Saklan Preschool – fifth grade students participated in Moving Up Day. The students and teachers alike were buzzing with excitement!

This annual tradition allowed the students to get a snapshot of what next year will hold. The teachers planned special activities that highlighted their grade level and enjoyed getting to know their rising students a little better. Morning meeting activities, questions, stories, classroom scavenger hunts, and enthusiasm filled the classrooms! If your child “moved up” today, please ask them all about it. They will likely have something enthusiastic to share!


Los Lugares

During Spanish class, the first graders have been learning the Spanish words for the names of common places (lugares) they might visit. The students learned and practiced these new Spanish words using several fun methods, including: watching videos, singing songs, and playing games. After developing a thorough knowledge of the vocabulary, students used the words to create a map showcasing all the places they learned about:

  • La ciudad- the city
  • La escuela- school
  • La biblioteca- library
  • La tienda- store
  • El museo – museum
  • La casa- house
  • El río – river
  • El lago  – lake
  • La playa- beach
  • El bosque- forest
  • La montaña- mountain

The students then presented their maps to the class, speaking only in Spanish! Check out a few of the maps below.


Homes Around the World

The first grade class has been learning about the importance of shelter and what homes look like around the world. To begin the unit, the students wrote down questions they had related to homes. Culture, climate, and materials that are used to build homes were all part of the questions that were then posted on their Wonder Wall. Next, the students set out to learn the answers to their essential questions using a variety of resources.

One resource that the first graders were able to learn from was the 8th graders! Having recently returned from their Puerto Rican field experience, where they helped rebuild houses destroyed by Hurricane Maria, the eighth graders were now well versed in the building materials used and the ways homes are constructed in Puerto Rico. The eighth graders shared a presentation with the first graders about the climate and impact of hurricanes in Puerto Rico. They then shared how the houses are now being constructed to withstand the hurricane winds and water.

The first graders joined the eighth graders and Mr. Javier to get a hands-on demonstration of the home building process in Puerto Rico. The first graders helped mix cement, adding in extra rocks and sand to make it even stronger. The group then filled a preformed column, which Mr. Javier had already inserted rebar reinforcements into, with the cement.

A big thank you to the eighth graders for teaching the first graders about homes in Puerto Rico. This was a great hands-on learning experience for first grade.

#SaklanCrossGradeLearning #SaklanHandsOn

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