Moving Up Day

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

This annual tradition allows 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, art activities, classroom scavenger hunts, and enthusiasm for next year filled the classrooms! If your child “moved up” on Wednesday, please ask them all about it. They will likely have something enthusiastic to share!


Mars Wonders & Rovers

Last week in science, the fourth graders began to learn all about Mars! Students started with writing down their “wonders” about the planet. Wonders included:

  • Is there life on Mars?
  • Are there rovers on Mars right now?
  • Could humans make a base on Mars?

Next, the class learned all about missions that have been taken to Mars, and what rovers are there right now.

The students stepped into virtual reality and toured the actual landing sites of the Mars rovers to learn more about the rovers themselves and the purpose of their missions while on Mars. The fourth graders discovered that Mars once had water. They also learned that Perseverance, a rover designed to explore the Jezero crater on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, is looking for samples that could contain signs of life.

The students are enjoying their unit studying Mars. If you have questions about Mars, ask our resident experts – the fourth graders!

Environmental Impact of the Gold Rush

The 4th graders are currently working to answer the driving question, How can we use our knowledge of the gold rush to understand the impact of humans on the CA environment today?

Students have been conducting research to explore their own questions about the 1849 CA gold rush and it’s lasting impact on the environment. They have been learning virtually with staff from various CA State Parks, Dr. Sarah Duddigan, an environmental scientist at the University of Reading, and Jared Naimark, a CA mining organizer from the non-profit organization, Earthworks.

As they continue their unit, they need your help connecting with a few more experts. Do you, or someone you know, have interest in sharing your knowledge in the following areas?

  • Comic books or graphic novels
  • Animation or drawing
  • Self-publishing
  • Gold jewelry making or recycling
  • Mercury and/or cyanide toxicology

If so, please reach out to Linda ( and Ashley ( to see how your knowledge could help the 4th graders with their study.



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!


The Lion King KIDS Video

Before the Winter Break, we were treated to a wonderful performance of The Lion King KIDS by the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. If you weren’t able to join us for the show, or have been excitedly waiting to watch it again, check out the video of the performance below.

Thank you to our 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students for the courage, creativity and dedication they exhibited throughout The Lion King KIDS production cycle.

#SaklanCreative #SaklanCourageous

The Lion King KIDS

For 30 years, The Lion King has been a cultural linchpin. Music and lyrics by Tim Rice and Elton John placed the movie firmly in our collective consciousness. The movie is accessible, and the story loosely based on The Epic of Sundiata-The Lion King of Mali, is well known and loved by Western audiences unfamiliar with African culture and stories. Then when The Lion King came to Broadway in 1997, the designers brought new elements from the story. Costumes, set pieces, makeup, and props all were inspired by elements of African folklore. What is more, The Lion King was one of Broadway’s first shows to openly advocate for conscious casting, and more songs were introduced.

Saklan’s production of The Lion King KIDS attempted to honor the Broadway tradition of the show. Our students’ goal was never to “pretend to be animals” or to hide their humanity, but rather to highlight how connected we, as humans, are to the animals that are portrayed. Their headdresses, designed by the students themselves in art class, took inspiration from real African masks and textures, and the choreography brought in the element of circles over and over again, reminding us that we are all a part of the circle of life, along with every animal on the savanna. Through their performance, our students claimed their place in this world as protectors of that circle of life. They spent hours learning lines, music, and choreography, but also discovered elements of the languages of Xhosa, Zulu, and Swahili. They know about the range of lions in Africa, and what role buzzards serve in the circle of life. They know that hyenas are social and deeply misunderstood, and so much more. They took that knowledge and used it to become advocates for the apex predator of the African grasslands, the African Lion.

Saklan students are remarkable because they care about more than themselves. This show was a vehicle to move forward their environmental advocacy, and their determination to do their best shows through in everything they do.

Thank you to everyone who donated cardboard, made masks, gathered costume pieces, painted faces, joined us for the performance, laughed and applauded.

Special thanks to:

  • Our 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students for their courage, creativity and dedication to bring this show to life, to advocate for other people and animals, and for sharing their work with our community.
  • Lauren Haberly for her work with the actors on their masks and headdresses.
  • Javier Yacarini for his work on the set, and always saying “No problem!”
  • Joy Kim, Daisy Colby, Erin Moorhead and Toshie Baba for their ambition and creativity in creating and assembling Rhinos and Elephants.
  • John Miazga for carrying heavy things.
  • Astro Camacho and Jack Zippin for the gorgeous Elephant skeletons.
  • Every middle school student who painted, glued, and carried props.
  • And especially, Grace Chaffey for the vision, organization, confidence, patience, and inspiration she showed in directing the students to bring this wonderful story to life.

Visiting Cafe Ohlone

The fourth and third grade classes are both working on projects that are designed to answer their project driving questions:

“Why does learning the whole truth of the CA missions matter?”

4th Grade


“How can we show respect to the people whose ancestral lands Saklan is on?”

3rd Grade

As part of this work, the 4th and 3rd graders had the unique opportunity to visit Cafe Ohlone on the UC Berkeley campus. The students were excited and honored to meet with the owners and founders of the cafe, Vincent Medina (East Bay Ohlone) and Louis Trevino (Rumsen Ohlone), who also both have some Saclan ancestry.

To represent and share the living culture of Ohlone and Bay Miwok people, Vincent and Louis taught the students some words in the Ohlone language and shared some traditional games.

They also talked about the types of local species that are used in their foods, such as acorns, and the process of turning the acorns into flour. The students loved trying some delicious acorn flour brownies and tea!

Our students were very lucky to also get to ask Vincent and Louis questions about what they have been learning in the classroom, and see what they thought about each classes’ driving question for their unit. It was an incredibly enlightening experience for both classes and they are looking forward to using what they learned to help them finish their units!

#SaklanPBL #SaklanFieldExperience

Saklan’s West African Music Program

Every Thursday, the Saklan campus has a different beat, a beat that hails from West Africa. Under the guidance of Isaac Narell, students in third through eighth can be found studying music from the Ewe speaking people who live in Ghana, Togo and Benin (countries in West Africa).

Ewe music consists of singing, dancing, and drumming.  All these elements make up music styles. In 3rd grade, the students are performing a style called “Agahu.”

4th grade dancing and singing a Gota song.

Fourth and fifth graders are learning the styles “Gota” and “Tokoe.”

5th grade practicing Tokoe drumming

This unique music experience is a beloved aspect of the Saklan Music Program. Some 5th graders are so enthralled, that are choosing to stay in at recess on Thursdays and practice drumming together, while a group of  Middle Schoolers are practicing drumming at lunch time on Thursdays. 

#SaklanCreative #SaklanLearningByDoing

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

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