This week, Ms. Chaffey took the first graders to the trail behind campus, and led them on a musical nature walk! The class got to spend time in quiet observation of the sounds we can hear in the world around us.
After quietly walking down the trail, Ms. Chaffey would find a spot for the class to pause, and instructed the students to sit there for a few minutes in silence, listening to the sounds around them. Some of the sounds would be from animals or silent forces in nature, while others came from humans.
The first graders drew what they heard, including birds singing, people talking, and wind blowing. One imaginative first grader heard a “unicorn Pegasus,” while another explained that his “really good hearing” allowed him to hear the sound of the plants growing!
The first graders in Ms. Maria’s class got a special treat when they were visited by a guest scientist…Saklan’s very own Meredith Avant! As part of the first grade earth materials unit, the class discussed how rocks are natural resources that can be used in many things. To wrap up the unit, they welcomed Meredith to their classroom to learn more about the unique drywall product she invented!
Most cement products are made by cooking the water molecules out of gypsum or limestone, and then adding water back in the desired shape of a wall board. This process takes an immense amount of energy. In 2008, Meredith’s company Serious Materials created Eco Rock, a drywall product made from recycled materials and different chemical reactions. The process she patented used just 20% of the energy needed for the typical drywall process. It’s no surprise that her product was named one of the 100 best inventions of the year by Popular Science magazine in 2008, and won the Green Tech Grand Award!
Thank you to Meredith for teaching the first graders that being a scientist rocks – sometimes literally!
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.