Pen Pals

The third graders were very excited to receive their first letters back from their pen pals last week! Saklan’s third grade class is paired up with a third grade class from Parkside Elementary School in Lawrenceville, IL through the USPS PEN PAL Project. Saklan’s third graders wrote the first set of letters and mailed them off to Illinois back in early March. Ever since then, the third graders had been anxiously waiting for a reply, and on April 11th their letters finally arrived!

Through this project students learned how to write a friendly letter with an opening and closing, as well as how to address an envelope. The class also tied in some geography as they used a map to see where their pen pals live.

The third graders have already written their second letters back to their pen pals and hope to hear back from them soon!


Service to the Community

Cesar Chavez Day is a commemorative holiday celebrated yearly on March 31st in the U.S. The aim of this holiday is to celebrate the birth and the enduring legacy of the labor and civil rights’ movement that activist Cesar Chavez started while fighting for farm workers’ rights in the 1950s. Chavez gave people a sense of their own power by helping them discover that they could demand dignity and better wages. On March 31st each year, this day is commemorated to promote service to the community in honor of Cesar Chavez’s life, work, and legacy.

At The Saklan School, the kindergarten through seventh grade students supported and provided a service for The Contra Costa Humane Society by making much needed items for dogs and cats in their care, as well as learning about Cesar Chavez’s life and important legacy. Students in kindergarten, first, and second grade were tasked with making catnip sachets. The third and fourth graders made kitty pom poms for cats to play with while in their cages. The fifth grade class made several dog beds and pull toys. And finally, the sixth and seventh grade group made braided pull toys for dogs. The goal of the community service project was to show compassion and make the animals’ lives more comfortable and happy while they wait for their forever homes.

#SaklanCompassion #SaklanServiceLearning

Engineering Design Process

Saklan’s 3rd graders recently learned about the Engineering Design Process: a step-by-step guide that engineers use to solve problems. The engineering design process has six stages: 

1. Ask — Identify a problem, then ask questions to understand it better.  

2. Imagine — Brainstorm ideas on how to solve the problem.  

3. Plan — Choose one idea and plan how to create the solution.  

4. Create — Acquire any necessary materials and create the solution.  

5. Test — See if the solution works by collecting and analyzing data, and evaluating strengthens and weaknesses.  

6. Improve — Make adjustments to improve the solution, then test it again.

The class applied these ideas while completing a STEM challenge of trying to build a bridge made out of only pennies that was at least 3 centimeters tall and wide, and was strong enough to hold a LEGO mini figurine. Check out their creations below!


Using Data to Graph

The third graders recently completed a math unit on data and graphing. They learned about how to complete a survey, how to count votes with a tally chart, and how to display the results with various types of graphs.  In order to demonstrate their understanding of graphs, students worked together in groups to complete a graphing project. First, they came up with a question to ask their classmates, usually asking them to determine their favorite in a certain category. Next, they collected data by surveying their classmates. Finally, they worked together to create a poster with multiple types of graphs (bar graphs, pictographs, and line plot graphs) to display their findings.

Not only did the third graders show their understanding of the math standards, they also practiced the important skills of listening, communication, compromise, and collaboration that comes along with being a good team member. 


Fun with Magnets

Last week, the third graders had fun with magnets, exploring the surprising properties of magnets and experimenting with this invisible force that can act at a distance. They discovered the push and pull of magnets, how magnets attract certain types of metals, and how a magnet’s force can work through other materials like paper and even their hands! 

The third graders thoroughly enjoyed this hands-on learning opportunity!

#SaklanHandsOn #SaklanAcademic

Respectful & Accepting

This week, the 1st through 8th graders met with their families groups to discuss the January Social Emotional Learning themes of being respectful and accepting.

The 8th graders led a discussion of what the words respectful and accepting mean, and then shared the book Where Oliver Fits, by Cale Atkinson, in which Oliver finds that trying to fit in is a lot harder than he thought it would be.

Following a discussion of the story, the each student decorated a paper puzzle piece with words that describe them. Check out the puzzle pieces that each family group created below.



During the month of January, snow is a common theme in many conversations and lessons on campus. 

In science, the third graders learned about why some animals hibernate in the winter. For these animals, the snow and frozen tundra makes finding food difficult. To preserve energy, they spend the winter in a dormant state, or hibernate.

The third graders also created fabulous snowpeople! They focused on perspective “from a worm’s eye view” and used a variety of mediums, including pastels, crayons, sharpies and watercolors, to achieve their desired look. The students took their time, thinking about what a worm’s perspective would look like, adding details to give their snow person a personality, and a background to paint a more vivid picture of who their snow person is and where they live.

Our Kindergarteners were lucky enough to touch, feel and build with real snow this week as well. They donned mittens and built snowpeople and snowballs right here in Moraga!

#SaklanCreative #SaklanHandsOn

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

Array City

The third graders have been learning about multiplication and the variety of ways it can be represented. One way to model multiplication is with arrays. An array is an arrangement of objects in rows and columns; the rows represent the number of groups, while the columns represent the number in each group. The visual that an array creates helps students to better understand the concept of multiplication.

The third graders combined math and art to create an Array City. The buildings have windows aglow in a night skyline.

When you look for them, you can find arrays all around!

#SaklanAcademic #SaklanHandsOn

Balloons Over Broadway

On Thursday, the third graders combined social studies and STEM standards together while working on a fun project. First, the class read a biography about Tony Sarg, known as the father of modern puppetry and the inventor of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade balloons. Then students designed their own parade balloons, as well as a device to hold the balloons high up in the air. It took some trial and error to get the devices to work, but the students persevered!

Check out their creative balloon designs below.

With their balloons complete, the third graders paraded around the school yard. The Hoot Owls and Owlets were excited to watch the parade and see the third grade creations!


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