After weeks of planning, we’re almost ready to start our new school year! In this post I’m sharing our second grade homeschool curriculum choices and previewing some of the topics we’ll be studying. Ultimately, I try to find educational resources and books that are collaborative and engaging, and I’m confident we’re going to have a LOT of fun exploring them all this year.
Anyone else excited to begin a new school year? Or have you already returned to school? We’ll be starting next week, and I think we’re all ready to settle into our daily school rhythm again after having taken the past few weeks off. If you haven’t been following our family’s homeschooling adventure thus far, I’m mostly guided by Maria Montessori’s overall vision for education:
The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. Our aim therefore is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorise, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his inmost core. We do not want complacent pupils, but eager ones; we seek to sow life in the child rather than theories, to help him in his growth, mental and emotional as well as physical, and for that we must offer grand and lofty ideas to the human mind, which we find ever ready to receive them, demanding more and more.Maria Montessori
In our homeschool, we prioritize richly told stories and lively, engaging lessons; hands-on experiences and plenty of time outdoors; practical life activities; collaborative work and family board games.
We’re looking forward to adding a few new things to our homeschool this year, including some family lessons as well as notebooking and oral narration.
OUR SECOND GRADE SUBJECTS
When I begin planning a new school year, the first thing I do is seek my children’s input on topics they’d like to be included. This year my 7-year-old expressed a desire to learn more about the United States, continue nature studies, and delve into physics.
With that in mind, here’s the list of our planned topics of study:
- Language Arts
- Nature Study
- Special Study: United States
- U.S. History (Pre-Colonial – 1850’s)
- Artist/Composer Study
- Social Skills*
- Bible Study*
Looking at the list it seems like a lot! We use a combination of Daily Riches and scheduled days for certain subjects to help us stay organized.
I’ve placed an asterisk beside the subjects that are included in our daily riches.
In a healthy diet, there will be room for all the food groups, and in a healthy curriculum, there should be no need to deprive children of one kind of knowledge in favor of another. If we bear in mind that children need relationships with all kinds of knowledge in the same way that they need complete nutrition, we will make sure that we do not eliminate something vital for their development.Karen Glass
What are Daily Riches?
We began implementing ‘Daily Riches’ a couple years ago. Since it’s been part of our daily routine for awhile it’s just something we do. Oftentimes, these fit seamlessly into our daily routine.
Every year we discuss what enrichment subjects and activities bring us joy, comfort, or peace. I think it’s important to re-evaluate them each year with your children to determine which ones to give priority to each day. Remember, these are done daily so you really want to focus on things that everyone enjoys (or at least tolerates). 😉
Here’s a list of our scheduled daily enrichment activities for this school year:
- Social Skills
- Number Talks
- Board Games
- Bible Study
Our Weekly Routine
I plan our school year based on presentations and lessons, so some weeks will be lighter than others. We simply work our way through each resource and/or scope and sequence at whatever pace we need. Some of our curriculum resources have 40 lessons, and others like Mindset Mathematics or Math and Literature only have twenty-some. So, for example, on a day where there’s no Mindset Mathematics activity planned for my oldest daughter, she’ll choose independent math works from her shelf or she can work in her math journal. These are mostly a mix of Montessori activities and extensions along with a variety of math-based games. (Gameschooling is very, very popular in our house!)
Again, my goal is to offer my children fun, educational, and enriching activities while also fostering self-directed, child-led learning. Therefore, I try to present lively lessons and presentations and then provide supplemental extension activities for them to explore further.
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Our Second Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices
Now onto the fun part! Here’s a look at the educational resources and books we’ll be using this year for second grade. First up, math! It’s one of my daughter’s favorite subjects, so we’re able to have a lot of fun with it.
We began implementing daily number talks last year, and both my children eagerly look forward to them. At some point I stumbled across Jo Boaler’s book Mathematical Mindsets and it left a lasting impact. I love how it emphasizes math as a collaborative, creative subject that allows for exploration and discovery.
I then discovered Boaler’s grade-specific curriculum and knew my daughter would love investigating and exploring big math ideas this coming year. Because Grade 2 hasn’t been released yet, we’re moving forward with Grade 3 since my oldest has already been introduced and practiced most of the topics. Boaler’s problem-solving approach to math focuses on low bar, high ceiling tasks so they should work well with mixed ages.
I will also be implementing Marilyn Burns’ Math and Literature (Grades 2-3) as an additional resource that helps foster mathematical problem-solving skills through children’s literature. I managed to find both her Math and Literature books for Grades K-1 and Grades 2-3 used for a very affordable price. Each lesson is clearly outlined, and most of the children’s books that correspond to the lessons are available at our library. I think my daughter will enjoy the challenge of tackling ‘real-world’ mathematical problems.
In addition to the above resources, we enjoy playing a lot of math games. Some of our favorites include Sleeping Queens (adapted for multiplication and balanced equations), Dragonwood, Election Night, Money Bags, Kingdomino, Math Dice Jr., and Super Genius: Multiplication. For more independent work, my daughter has access to Montessori-based math activities and extensions on her shelf. These are rotated as needed.
Finally, we’ll be working through Math Art and Drawing Games for Kids: 40 Fun Art Projects to Build Amazing Math Skills as they correlate to the topics we’re exploring this year.
For second grade language arts, we’ll be focusing on reading literature, oral narration, beginning writing instruction, copywork, and grammar.
Comprising folk tales, poems, fables, and fairy tales, Reading Literature: Second Reader is our literary selection for both reading practice and oral narration. My daughter will be assigned a short selection three days a week to read aloud and then will provide a narration.
For beginning writing instruction, I’ve opted to use Judith C. Hochman’s The Writing Revolution: A Guide to Thinking Through Writing in All Subjects and Grades as my guide. Its structured, methodical approach is designed to be integrated with other subjects to help foster not only practical writing skills but also reading comprehension and analytical thinking skills as well. I appreciate that the writing exercises and activities can be seamlessly embedded in any content area, rather than having the subject of writing as a separate, standalone subject.
Much like last year, we’ll continue to use a combination of storytelling and games for grammar instruction. For Montessori-aligned grammar presentations, Michael J. Dorer’s The Deep Well of Time is an excellent resource.
My daughter also enjoys the stories from Mary’s Grammar, and it’s pretty easy to create games and activities that go alongside the stories for follow-up work.
For independent grammar practice, my daughter currently has the following available on her shelf: The Montessori Parts of Speech Bundle, Magnetic Poetry Kit, Sorting: Fragments vs. Sentences, Editing: Beginning Sentences, Scrambled Sentences, and Sorting: Sentence Types. These will be rotated as needed throughout the school year.
I’m a firm believer that the best curriculum for nature study is time spent outdoors. We’ve been participants in the 1000 Hours Outside challenge for the past couple years, and we strive to get outdoors as much as we can.
I did, however, want to begin notebooking in our homeschool this year. So, I’ve decided to use Outdoor Visits (Nature and Science Readers) by Edith M. Patch to enhance our nature studies. The plan right now is for my daughter to read one seasonal entry each week and then notebook her findings, using other books and resources as necessary to complete her research.
I like this book because it provides another opportunity for reading practice, and it features engaging illustrations and good topical information written clearly and concisely for lower elementary students.
A Study of the United States
One of our special topics this school year will be a study of the United States. What I love about this special study is how easily we’ll be able to integrate culture and geography, practical life, science, nature study, and literature each week as we read about and explore a new state together. Here our the main resources we’ll be using:
- National Geographic Kids U.S. Atlas
- United Tastes of America: An Atlas of Food Facts and Recipes from Every State
- The State Notebook
- Passport Book and State Flag Stickers
- Election Night
- A State-Specific Picture and Chapter Book List (Coming Soon!)
Our geography studies will also support our exploration of the United States. We’ll be reading Paul R. Hanna’s Cross Country: Geography for Children together and using C.C. Long’s Home Geography for Primary Grades for our weekly lesson.
Additionally, we’ll have some fun with map drills and map work over the course of the year.
U.S. History (Pre-Colonial – 1850s)
Last year we began reading Absolutely Everything! A History of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and Other Things Too Numerous to Mention in addition to a history timeline and worked our way through the Age of Exploration. To continue our study of history, we’ll begin in pre-colonial America this fall. I’ve opted to use Betsy Maestro’s American Story series as our main text. To enhance our studies, we’ll read related picture and chapter books.
Some of our scheduled read-aloud books will include:
- Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac
- Morning Girl by Michael Dorris
- Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry
- The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz
- The Arrow Over the Door by Joseph Bruchac
- Cinnabar, the One O’Clock Fox by Marguerite Henry
- Phoebe the Spy by Judith Griffin
- A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home by Henry Cole
- The Birchbark House series by Louise Erdrich
- Thee, Hannah! by Marguerite de Angeli
Spanish will be a family lesson. I’ve selected to use Español En Vivo: Level 1 as our main guiding text each week. I plan to supplement this text with both games and activities that can be kept on our schoolroom shelves.
Additionally, we’ll be learning Spanish folk songs throughout the school year using the following resources: Jose-Luis Orozco’s De Colores and Other Latin American Folksongs for Children and Elizabeth Mitchell and Suni Paz’s Tu Eres Mi Flor: Songs for Children En Español albums.
Both my children also love the Eat Your Spanish podcast hosted by Evan and Vanessa. They’ve recently released their own album, In Our World There Are No Strangers, which includes songs in both English and Spanish.
As part of our Grace & Courtesy lessons, we’ll be using two resources this year: Social Skills Activities for Kids: 50 Fun Exercises for Making Friends, Talking and Listening, and Understanding Social Rules and Me and My Feelings: A Kids’ Guide to Understanding and Expressing Themselves. Our Grace & Courtesy lessons will be one of our Daily Riches this year.
I’ll also be re-visiting Honoring the Light of the Child: Activities to Nurture Peaceful Living Skills in Young Children with my 4-year-old throughout the year, and I’m sure my 7-year-old will join us during this time as well.
Physics will be another special topic this year, as requested by my daughter. We’ll be using a combination of resources, including picture books, biographies, and hands-on experiments to begin our study of physical science. Topics will include the following:
- Electrical Circuits
- Atoms & Radioactivity
I plan to use both Andi Diehn’s Picture Book Science series (Energy, Forces, Waves, Matter) and Geoff Waring’s Start with Science series (Oscar and the Cricket: A Book About Moving and Rolling; Oscar and the Bat: A Book About Sound, Oscar and the Dark: A Book About Light and Dark, and Oscar and the Bird: A Book About Electricity) to introduce each corresponding topic, and then we’ll spend a month or so exploring each one more thoroughly using a combination of hands-on experiments, picture book biographies, and Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out early reader science books.
For our hands-on experiments and STEM challenges, we’ll be using the book Awesome Science Experiments for Kids: 100+ STEM/STEAM Projects and Why They Work to guide us. Both my kids love hands-on activities, so we’ll be attempting to do one experiment each week this school year.
For our Bible study this year, I’ve selected Through the Year with Jesus: Gospel Readings and Reflections for Children. It includes scripture, reflections, discussion prompts, prayer guides, sacred art, as well as ideas for living the liturgical year. We’ll be using this book in conjunction with copywork, notebooking, and art history.
We will also be reading the Loyola Kids Book of Saints and The Family Virtues Guide: Simple Ways to Bring Out the Best in Our Children and Ourselves when applicable.
And there you have it! I hope this preview into our second grade homeschool curriculum choices was helpful for you. As we move through the school year, I hope to provide more in-depth reviews on some of our picks for this year and will update this post as we get around to exploring them more fully.
If you have any questions about any of the curriculum resources we’ve chosen, feel free to leave a comment below or e-mail me! I’m always up for chatting about homeschooling resources. 🙂
I hope everyone has a wonderful 2021-2022 school year!