Art, Culture, and Politics: Poster Project


Artists have a long history of making artwork to raise awareness. Posters are graphic and accessible, which makes them great vehicles of expression. Students were given four steps to reflect, explore, and express in this project.

  1. Make it Topical: For people to understand your artwork, make it relevant. Address your eras most pressing issues.
  2. Use Iconic Imagery: Using visuals so common in society, anyone could recognize them. Create  your own twist on popular culture.
  3. Develop technique: Your poster needs to be visually striking. Be Bold!
  4. Make your art approachable: Make your message easy to understand and encourage a conversation.

Making a mind map, students brainstormed ideas of current topics they felt strongly about. Having multiple options, they then chose iconic imagery that would represent each issue. We then went into developing the technique of stencil making, looking at artists Shepard Fairey and Banksy. In this process they begin to understand positive and negative space. Once the stencil is created, the student must envision the next steps needed to be taken for the poster to be visually striking. Using language can help initiate a message and conversation. Students were given the option of using bold typography like Corita Kent and Barbara Kruger do in their artwork.This would help to balance the work of art and initiate a conversation. We are in the final stages of this project. Can you tell what topics these artists are addressing in their projects?


3rd Grade Alexander Calder and the Mobile


Alexander Calder. Constellation Mobile. 1943.

Wood, wire, string, and paint.

In understanding Kinetic Art – art that contains movement – we look to American Sculptor Alexander Calder for inspiration. He is most famous for his creation of the Mobile – a sculpture that has delicate parts, is suspended in air, and moves in response to air or powered by a motor. The class discussed the elements involved in creating a working mobile and the effects on the brain.

The students were given half the class to work in groups to create their “test” mobile using the same materials (minus paint). Working together they problem solved and created very different mobiles. They had a mini critique after the making to assess the functioning of each mobile. Next class they are to sketch out their model, including multiple branches, and create a theme for the mobile.


Age Of Sail

Last week, the 5th and 6th grade stepped back into the past. The year is 1906; there has been a devastating earthquake and fire, and San Francisco lies in smoldering ruins. Much of the population is sheltered in tent cities, and doubts are being expressed about the city’s survival. Balclutha’s regular crew has jumped ship, either to escape the smoldering city, or to fight fires and help in the rescue operations. The Captain, looking to make a quick profit, needs a crew to sail to Oregon for lumber that will be in high demand. The students, or “lads,” arrived at Hyde Street Pier to sign aboard as the replacement crew.

Our Captain would not sail with inexperienced green-hands, though. The lads had to prove to the Captain, through the completion of tasks, that they were capable of sailing the ship. Activities, such as reeving a block and tackle, rigging a Bosun’s chair, rowing a longboat, preparing meals, and raising sails were vital to the safe and efficient running of the ship. Under the watchful eye of the Captain, officers worked with the “lads” to transform them from green-hands into tarry-handed “salts.” This taught them teamwork, grit and empathy for the past. Us tall sailors were truly proud of their hard work!

“One task we did well working as a team was raising and lowering the small boat. We did this by communicating clearly and giving our mate, Carlito, help when he needed it.” – Mia

“When I was positive my crew was positive, and when I wanted to do things, they wanted to do things. I saw my actions affect others positively in my crew.” – Gabe

“I felt like I was part of a team when we worked together to hoist a sail. Another time this happened was when I was giving orders and my team listened and we all did the work.” – Dillon

“This trip helped me see the importance of doing things right the first time. If not we got disciplined.” – Sadie M.

“I think Saklan asks us to do experiences like this trip so we grow and challenge ourselves in different ways.” – Milla


4th Grade Self Portraits


For the most part, our faces are fairly symmetrical. That means if we divided our face in half, each half would roughly be the same measurements and the facial features would be in the same places.

The students learned tricks to help them space the facial features out properly. Cutting their photo in half, students measured out the contour (outline) of their head using the measurements they have from the photo. Making little dots at each point, they measured and then connected all the dots for the contour line drawing. This gave them even more spacial awareness to where their facial features would go next. They measured where their eyes, nose, and mouth begin and end. We are now working on how to draw the facial features and shade.

Drawing a self portrait is probably one of the most daunting projects for kids. They are easily discouraged because it is one of the hardest projects for almost anyone! With that said, the students have been pleasantly surprised how accurate their self portraits are! Way to go 4th grade!


News From The Sports Court

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”
– Molière


One of the core tenets of The Saklan School is courage. Five Saklan students took a risk and ran a foot race against peers from other schools around the Lafayette Reservoir.  This cross country event was grueling. The distance around the lake is about 2.5 miles with a lot of up and down terrain.


Last Tuesday evening was the Fourth Annual Cross Country Invitational Meet. The Saklan School usually finishes well at this event and this year’s race was the fastest yet. A special shout-out to: Mac, Nick, Phoebe, Reese, and Thomas for completing this challenging adventure.

Let’s go Saklan!


6th Grade Builds Volcanoes


The 6th grade has been learning about different types of volcanoes and their parts, where they are located, what type of eruptions occur, dangers and advantages of living by active volcanoes and how they create different rocks and formations. Students 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 off different batches of “magma.” They determined the speed of flow, what minerals make the lava flow slower and how those different flows cool into different rocks.

After they learned about historic volcanoes and ones we still might want to be concerned about. It was a lot of fun!


Can You Hula Hoop?


The physical education students have been practicing with hula hoops since the beginning of the year. Did you know that you can build with the hula hoops? Six hoops can be stacked to create a stand alone structure.


The Saklan students didn’t stop with six. During recess, a few ambitious builders have begun to stack the structures. The builders are looking for different locations which will allow them to reach greater heights. The tower is growing to four and five stories! Today, the students broke the record with four stories and this structure will go down in Saklan history!

Let’s go Saklan!


Mixing Magic Color Wheels


The Kindergarten is learning about the color wheel! Using Model Magic, the students mixed their own secondary colors (Orange, Green, Purple) using equal parts of the primary colors (Red, Yellow, Blue). They enjoyed mixing the colors with their hands and seeing the magic happen right before their eyes! In this exercise, students can create a wide range of colors fairly quickly and understand the amount of each color it takes to create others. While the model magic is still soft, they can break off a little of one and another color to make more colors like yellow-orange, blue-purple, green-blue, etc. (More yellow than orange will make yellow-orange, more blue than green will make blue-green, etc.)

Students were sent home with their model magic color wheels to play with color mixing! This is the most non-messy and tactile way of learning how to mix colors, not to mention the cool sculptures they can make with this material. If the model magic is left out and not placed back in the bag, IT WILL DRY OUT! So make a fun sculpture before it hardens! Here is just one idea: if the kids mix many colors they can attach all spheres to make a caterpillar!

In the following weeks, students will read from The Day the Crayons Quit by Oliver Jeffers to create their own story and artwork behind their favorite color of the color wheel.


¿Que Tiempo Hace Hoy?


Second graders meet for Spanish class 3 times a week for 30 minutes each time. The Spanish courses are taught with an emphasis on interactive activities, stories, poems, songs, and games that are used to introduce vocabulary and commonly used phrases in Spanish. Students also engage in art projects to help them draw associations to the Spanish material as they speak and create. Reinforcement and repetition are used to help retain material.

This past week, students were introduced to vocabulary associated with different seasons and weather. They learned the name of the four seasons in Spanish: el invierno, la primavera, el verano and el otono. The four seasons is a fun topic because there is so much to talk about. First, the students discussed the characteristics of each season. Then, they shared their favorite season and why they liked it. They also created a “dado” (dice) with the different weather types and they asked each other questions such as “¿Que tiempo hace hoy?” (How’s the weather?). These activities gave the second graders lots of opportunities to practice their Spanish.


Kindergarten – Tree of Life

Tree of Life
Misheel Javkhlangerel Tree of Love                              Sage Avant Tree of Love

Students have been working with chalk, oil pastels, and watercolor resist techniques in the Art Room. The students had a one day project for them to take home and the inspiration came from Gustav Klimt’s painting, The Tree of Life. The Kinders titled their artwork after explaining what their own tree represented.

The Tree of Life reaches up into the sky and down into the earth. It represents strength, protection, mother nature, wisdom, and beauty. The swirly branches keep your eye wandering and exploring the details in the painting. Using lines to make up the tree, students used oil pastels first and then water colored the whole paper to reveal the resist technique. This creates beautiful results that the students are proud of creating!