2nd Grade Curriculum Guide

The Grammar School

Second Grade Curriculum

The goal of second grade is to enable students to become independent thinkers, while building and expanding basic skills previously acquired. During the year, the children work on personal growth in resourcefulness, self-motivation, and independence. Students gain confidence in problem solving in all areas. Second graders learn to express their ideas clearly in writing and discourse. Active listening, critical thinking, and organizational skills are taught and practiced. Students behave with consideration and respect for others in the social arena; second graders learn to appreciate differences. Through partner and group work, second graders practice cooperating to achieve common goals.

The typical day for second graders begins with journal writing or a math assignment. This is followed by reading and language arts activities. After morning recess, students are refreshed and ready for math, music, and French. Silent reading follows lunch. Science, social studies, art, and PSD are scheduled in the afternoon.

Reading and Language Arts

Second grade uses a literature-based reading program. Some of the class selections are: Tornado (Betsy Byars), Shoeshine Girl (Clyde Robert Bulla), Hawk, I’m Your Brother (Byrd Baylor), The Courage of Sarah Noble (Alice Dalgliesh), Superfudge (Judy Blume), The Chocolate Touch (Patrick Skene Catling), Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingalls Wilder), and Amber Brown Is Not a Crayon (Paula Danziger). Historical fiction supports our yearlong study of Colonial America and includes If You Grew up with George Washington (Ruth Belov Gross), Sam the Minuteman (Nathaniel Benchley), Buttons for General Washington (Peter Roop), and What’s the Big Idea, Ben Franklin? (Jean Fritz).

The second grade uses the Modern Curriculum Press and Steck-Vaughn series for phonics and spelling. Spelling words are also taken from the books the students are reading as well as from words commonly used in their writing. Second graders write creative stories, poems, opinions, and factual reports. Emphasis is on correct spelling, punctuation, and handwriting, as well as developing clear, descriptive writing. Students use the “process” approach to writing. Their writing progresses through six stages: brainstorming, writing a rough draft, conferencing, revising, editing, and writing the final copy. Students draw on their own life experiences to create meaningful and imaginative stories. An autobiography compiled of chapters on a variety of subjects is a long-term writing project. Second graders learn keyboarding skills with the Mavis Beacon program. In the latter part of the year, the children begin to learn cursive writing.


In the second grade, we use manipulatives and broad application to develop an understanding of mathematical concepts. Activities include sorting, classifying and counting a variety of objects, weighing and measuring in units, telling time, dividing a shape or a group of objects into parts or fractions, comparing shapes and sizes of objects, and studying patterns. For concept development, we use attribute and pattern blocks, Cuisenaire rods, Unifix cubes, meter sticks, rulers, scales, tangrams, and math games. Students perform the mathematical operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division on real materials before having to do abstract exercises. The second grade uses Everyday Mathematics in conjunction with the Common Core Curriculum Standards. This is supplemented with lessons from the Vermont Mathematics Portfolio, activities from Marilyn Burns, and various assignments from Spectrum Math and Math in Focus.


The science program for second graders begins with a study of animals in their ecosystems. In the fall, second graders start the year with a unit on birds of prey. The connection between form and function is emphasized. Students explore the world of hawks and owls, learn about migration, and discover some basic principles of aerodynamics. A hike up Putney Mountain during peak hawk migration and a trip to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science are field trips that we take during the fall.

During the winter months we study Vermont mammals. We learn about adaptations for survival and how animals cope with the cold winters of New England. Methods of tracking, camouflage, and insulation are some of the topics we explore. Each student writes a research report on a particular Vermont mammal.

In the spring, second graders will participate in a comprehensive unit on oceanography. Marine mammals are the focal point. As we explore the ocean, our understanding of the interdependence of species within an ecosystem is solidified and expanded. We will develop a greater awareness of factors that threaten the ocean environment. Geography and current research findings are critical elements of this unit. A trip to the ocean is planned in the late spring.

During the year we explore the physical realm of science through small group, hands-on experimentation in such areas as flight, insulation, and buoyancy, as they relate to our various science units.

Over the course of the entire year, students develop an awareness of environmental changes through direct observation by keeping a tree journal. This journal consists of poetry and drawings that document seasonal changes, as well as the skill development and personal growth in each student.

Social Studies

Second graders study physical geography throughout the year. This includes learning about the seven continents and major oceans, the equator, lines of longitude and latitude, and learning basic mapping skills.

Second graders learn history through a yearlong study of Colonial America. We begin our study with the Pilgrims in the 1600s and end with the beginning of the Revolutionary War and the birth of our nation. We use history and literature books as well as Internet resources to enhance our study of the 18th century. We learn about the Founding Fathers, Paul Revere’s Ride, and the Declaration of Independence. Field trips to the Paul Revere House, the one-room schoolhouse at Historic Deerfield, Minuteman National Historic Park and various historical sites around Boston and Concord support this unit.

This year our school wide cultural study focuses on South Africa. We will investigate what life is like for a typical eight year-old child. Food, customs, climate, and schooling are some of the areas that we will explore. Examining similarities and differences between our cultures fosters greater understanding and appreciation of people from different areas of the world. This unit will create an opportunity for a community service project that will benefit children in South Africa.

Study Skills

In second grade, students are assigned approximately 30 minutes of homework on Monday through Thursday nights. This includes 20 minutes of reading aloud or silent reading. A short spelling, phonics, or math assignment is generally given in addition to the reading assignment. Students will occasionally have a writing assignment to work on at home.

Social Curriculum

The social curriculum at TGS is designed to complement the academic curriculum and help maintain a healthy social and learning environment. To that end, second graders learn to listen to each other, to support each other, and to learn from each other during “Magic Circles.” Students call a magic circle when a pet or grandparent is sick or dies, when they are upset with a friend, or on any occasion when they need support or problem-solving help.

Additionally, each year, during our Global Education Theme studies, second graders fundraise along with the rest of the TGS community for worthy organizations in whatever region or country we are studying. Second graders also participate in gathering donations for the Putney Food Shelf each year. Frequently, second graders participate in the “Simple Gifts” approach to giving during the holiday season. They read to an elderly neighbor, shovel snow, stack firewood, and think of numerous other ways in which they can give their time to another person.

Classroom Art

In grade two, art continues to be integrated in the classroom as part of the everyday learning experience. Second graders begin the year exploring color and investigating the relationship between light and color. Primary colors, secondary colors, and complementary colors are introduced. Art activities are done in a variety of media such as clay sculpture, painting, collage, sketching, printing, and three-dimensional constructions. Children ponder texture, line, color, and form. Many art activities and projects are related to our other areas of study.


In second grade, students gain exposure to new materials and begin to create more complex pieces using combined media. The students are interested in process and product and can begin to create art that ties directly to their own learning and place in the world. Longer art classes allow for more sustained engagement. Second graders explore and identify spatial relationships, and integrated classroom areas of study include birds of prey and colonial America through several clay hand-building projects and model-making. We study the contributions of Modernists, Impressionists, and several great masters through our projects in second grade.


Second graders focus on beginning musical notation and A-B-A form. Rudimentary counterpoint is introduced, combining the elements of melody and rhythm. Instrumentally, they continue to develop reading and composing skills, playing rhythms and patterns on the Orff xylophones. Physical warm-ups, dance, improvisation, and theater games are all part of second grade music.

The K-3 Chorus meets weekly and focuses on folk and contemporary songs, singing games, creative movement, dancing, and drama activities with performances at the K-4 Winter Concert and K-6 Spring Concert. The primary music program also includes classes in general music, dance, and theater skills.


In second grade, we use the Grenadine series with a CD presented by native French speakers. This series employs a workbook for written exercises. Units include songs, games, phonetic activities, and reading and writing tasks, all built around a body of vocabulary. Topics learned will be greetings, possessions, colors, the alphabet, activities, foods, days of the week, clothing, months, homes and more. Class meets twice a week.


The second graders meet in the library two periods a week. During these classes, they choose books, practice listening skills, and do various activities designed to familiarize them with the library. Second graders practice differentiating types of literature, review the difference between fiction and nonfiction, and review how to identify the title and author of a book. Second graders are introduced to beginning research skills using indexes, print matter, and the Internet. As part of the Red Clover Award program, they learn to evaluate literary material by text, illustration, and information.


The computer program in the second grade is designed to familiarize students with the computer and keyboard, as well as various programs that reinforce reading and critical thinking skills. Students practice keyboarding skills starting in the late fall. The objective is for second graders to learn correct finger placement and the location of the space bar, delete key, and shift keys. Students also use bookmarked websites on the Internet to find information for their research reports.

Physical Skills Development (PSD) 

The second graders work daily on developing physical skills. Activities range from organized soccer games to hiking through the woods and playing games with the younger students. In the winter, the second graders cross-country ski with the rest of the school. Spring sports include wiffle ball, kickball, and soccer. All these activities develop physical awareness, strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, cooperation, listening skills, and teamwork. Throughout the year, students work on personal fitness goals through the President’s Challenge.