Task Party!

This week in art class, students in 4th – 8th grade got in touch with their creative sides by participating in something called a “Task Party,” where students draw and complete random tasks.

Fourth graders worked collaboratively in table groups to “turn a stool into a monster.”

Fifth graders worked collaboratively with their table groups to “design and create a themed Met Gala gown for a member of their group.”

Middle school students independently drew tasks from a box and either completed as many as they could, or chose to spend the entire time on one task. Tasks included: making a treasure map, making a robotic arm, making a musical instrument, making a parrot and wearing it on one’s arm, making puppets and putting on a puppet show, making an octopus garden, making everyone name tags, making a walled fortress, and more!

Task parties originate from contemporary artist Oliver Herring and are meant to build community, inspire creativity, critical thinking, and fun through the arts. Tasks can be building and creating art with crafting and recycled materials or can be performance based and encourage students to step out of their comfort zones. 

The best part about a task party is getting to know the students as makers, artists and creative minds in an open, stakes-free environment. Because there is no right or wrong way to perform a task, everyone is participating and engaged, as there is little judgment or fear of making mistakes. 


Chinese Brush Painting

During art class, in honor of Lunar New Year, students in grades K-8 have been exploring the ancient art form of Chinese brush painting. After learning about how the Lunar New Year is celebrated, students observed the artwork of Guan Daosheng, a famous female painter from 13th century China, and noted how each line and mark is made by a single brushstroke. All students practiced the tradition by holding their brushes in the correct positions, then making different kinds of brushstrokes. 

Kindergarten, first and second grade students used their new painting knowledge to paint tigers, which is this year’s zodiac animal. Third graders practiced calligraphy and learned how to write the Chinese character for good fortune.

Fourth and fifth graders painted bamboo, and will be creating their own “chops” or stamps to print a “signature” design onto their painting. Middle school students had a choice of practicing to paint bamboo, orchids or a mountain landscape. 

#SaklanCreative #SaklanHandsOn

Play Basketball with the Saklan Suns!

Recently, science merged with physical education when sixth graders came to P.E. with special goggles which allowed them to see all the colors in the light spectrum. While these were special goggles, all students are encouraged to wear sunglasses and hats outside on the sports court, especially during morning and afternoon classes. 

Speaking of afternoons on the sports court, Monday through Thursdays from 3:00 – 3:30 p.m. students in 3rd grade and up are invited to the sports court to learn and practice basketball. No experience needed.

A scrimmage against another school has been scheduled for March 17th for any players interested in a challenge. If we have enough participants we can have a junior varsity and a varsity team. So come on out to the sports court, sunglasses encouraged!

Let’s Go Saklan!

Willy Wonka KIDS

The school musical seems to be such an integral part of American classrooms, like a rite of passage. Performances are exciting, and costumes, microphones, and sets create a kind of magic for kids. Behind all that magic and excitement, there is real work, focus, and critical thinking that transfers to other school subjects and the real world as well.

Students begin with a focus on music, reading notes and decoding symbols, then pairing those symbols with words to give meaning. They pair those words and symbols with physical action, and so the act of learning how to sing and dance lights up the entire brain! Take that, and add in awareness of other people on stage, the need to work together to move set pieces quickly, quietly, and safely, and that school musical becomes the perfect project for fostering creative thinking, compassionate social interactions, and courageous moments of risk taking and working through fears.

Thank you to everyone who made our Lower School’s recent production of Willy Wonka KIDS into that project.

#SaklanCreative #SaklanCompassionate #SaklanCourageous

Experiments in Microgravity

In November, Saklan’s Science Teacher, Ms. Obenchain, performed science experiments in microgravity during 10 minutes of free fall aboard the Zero-G aircraft. The experiments Ms. O conducted came from the students and curriculum she teaches here at Saklan, and helped her gain a greater understanding of how convection currents, dry ice, and a Newton’s Cradle all act in the absence of gravity.

Learn more about the experiments Ms. O conducted during her flight by watching the video below.

I know my experience and the results of my experiments on the Zero-G flight will not only be immediate but be useful for years to come. The excitement of reporting my findings with pictures, videos and observations has made my experience real for my students. I know it will continue to create new science questions, engineering ideas, and desires of Zero-G and space travel in my students’ minds. I can only hope it will also inspire my students to take risks, to step outside their comfort zone from time to time, and to learn new concepts whenever they can. 

Ms. O

Thank you, Ms. O, for helping Saklan students gain a greater understanding of gravity and our universe.

#SaklanLifeLongLearners #SaklanProfessionalDevelopment

2021 Hopscotch Tournament is Complete!

Forty Six competitors, ages 6 years to adult, started the single-elimination hopscotch tournament back in September. The matches were played during morning and afternoon recesses, averaging about two matches a day. After a few rain delays, match draws and field experiences, the bracket narrowed until finally a champion emerged. 

The 2021 Hopscotch Champion is Nate (6th). Competing in his first tournament, Nate had one draw and five wins. Nikko (6th) placed second with one draw and four wins. Damon (7th) and Thomas (8th) made the top four with three wins each. Honorable mentions go out to players who made it to the top eight, they include: Alexis (4th), Jack Z. (5th), Mori (6th), and Shay (adult). This year brought out a new ringed layout and homemade bean bags. 

All participants are encouraged to continue playing hopscotch, creating new layouts with chalk, and designing new markers.  We are already looking forward to next year’s tournament!

Let’s Go Saklan!


Ms. O Flies on G-FORCE ONE

In October, Saklan’s Science Teacher, Ms. O, attended The Embedded Teacher Project workshop at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI. The workshop brings together educators to learn about microgravity (a condition of very low gravity, approaching weightlessness) and how it affects experiments conducted in space. The Embedded Teacher Project provides opportunities for middle and high school teachers to develop and fly small experiments and demonstrations on a parabolic flight (which provides periods of sustained microgravity).  After learning from the professionals, the teachers were asked to submit proposals with experiments to perform in microgravity, on a parabolic Zero-G flight.

Ms. O was one of two science teachers whose proposals were accepted, and she was invited to experience 10 minutes of weightlessness during free fall aboard the Zero Gravity Corporation’s G-FORCE ONE aircraft! The aircraft flies a series of 30 parabolas, which are roller-coaster maneuvers that simulate zero gravity, so researchers can test experiments bound for space.

Ms. O, along with Wisconsin teacher Kristin Grender, joined the Carthage College Microgravity Team in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 17 to conduct experiments that answered questions posed by the teachers’ classes. During the flight, the teachers conducted tests to answer questions such as, “How does boiling and heat transfer work in space?”, and “Can blind and visually impaired people navigate in weightlessness using sound signals?”

When asked about the experience as she prepared to head off to Florida, Ms. O shared:

“I am so excited to participate in the Embedded Microgravity Program to help excite and expand my thinking around space science topics and careers.”

Back on campus, Ms. O told her students that she loved every second of her Zero-G experience, and was thrilled to test their hypothesis.  

Congratulations to Ms. O on being selected for such a prestigious and cool opportunity! Stay tuned to learn more about the experiments Ms. O tested during her ride on G-FORCE ONE, and how the results will impact her teaching here at Saklan.

#SaklanLifeLongLearners #SaklanProfessionalDevelopment

Dia de los Muertos

Saklan students have been learning about Dia de los Muertos in their Spanish classes. Dia de los Muertos is a celebratory tradition to welcome the spirits of loved ones who have departed. Ofrendas (altars for the spirits) are built using bright paper, flowers and candles (to show them the way), salt (for preservation and purification), calaveras (sugar skulls that symbolize the sweetness of life), food and drink (for nourishment) and photos of the loved ones. The students learned key vocabulary and then constructed different parts of the ofrenda in Spanish class.

The study of Dia de los Muertos was not only a great way for our students to practice Spanish vocabulary, and take part in a widely celebrated cultural tradition.



The sixth graders have been studying volcanoes. They learned about the different types of volcanoes, the parts of a volcano, where volcanoes are located, and the different types of eruptions that occur. Additionally, the students have learned about the dangers and advantages of living by active volcanoes, and how they create different rocks and formations.

As part of their hands-on study of volcanoes, the sixth graders looked at different types of igneous rocks, tested different fluid viscosity to see how different lavas might flow, and then built their own shield volcano and tested different batches of “magma.” The students determined the speed of flow, what minerals make the lava flow slower, and how those different flows cool into different rocks. The sixth graders also learned about historic volcanoes and ones we still might want to be concerned about.

The students had a ton of fun learning about all things volcanoes!


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