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The Guide to 2nd Grade

The Guide to 2nd Grade

Review general curricula for 2nd Grade, what to expect for each subject and activities that can be done at home to support learning in the classroom.
 

Introduction: 2nd Grade Curriculum

by Shira Ackerman, MA

In 2nd grade, students have adjusted to the more rigorous learning environment they initially encounter in 1st grade and so they are able to further deepen and expand their skills and knowledge. In 2nd grade they become more experienced writers, readers and mathematicians as they practice these skills more and in more complex and comprehensive ways. They read longer and more complicated books, they write longer and more complex pieces and they learn more of the concepts underlying the math they do. In addition, 2nd graders begin to develop their research and critical thinking projects as they create individual and group work to share and presenting what they learn through different forms, including writing, speaking, and art.

The 2nd grade classroom is structured like most elementary school classrooms, with desks or tables for the students and usually an area for lessons and class meetings and discussions. There are often also areas or centers dedicated to different subjects of learning.  For instance, there may be an area with all of the math tools and supplies as well as a class library dedicated to reading. Technology also becomes a more important part of the 2nd grade classroom as students learn about and use it more, specifically for publishing their writing. 

Don’t forget to check out our extensive resources on homework help for 2nd Grade here.

Reading: 2nd Grade

by Shira Ackerman, MA

Second graders continue to develop their reading skills as they learn to read more complex words as well as read longer and more complex texts in a variety of genres such as fiction, non-fiction and poetry. They also develop their reading comprehension skills as they talk about what they read and use it for developing and presenting further ideas. In addition, 2nd graders continuously practice their reading skills as they read for other subjects they learn throughout the day.

In order to build reading skills, your 2nd grader:

  • Reads more complex words such as two syllable words.
  • Reads words with common prefixes and suffixes. For example: pre, re, un and able, ad, and er.
  • Reads grade appropriate irregularly spelled words. (Consult your child’s teacher for a specific list of these words).
  • Reads a variety of texts including fiction, non-fiction, fables and poetry.
  • Understands the structure of a story and specifically the purpose of a beginning (introducing the text) and ending (concluding the text).
  • Understands the most important details of a text: it’s main purpose and the “who”, “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how” of a text.
  • Talks about characters’ responses, main events, the lessons in texts, and important ideas or concepts.
  • Begins to make connections within and between texts.
  • Compares at least two different versions of the same story such as, two versions of classic fairy tale.
  • Reads at grade-level with correct accuracy, pace, expression and comprehension.
  • Self-corrects mistakes and re-reads when necessary.

Reading Activities

  • Make a “W” Chart: While you and your child read books together, or while your child reads a book by herself, make a “W” chart. Fill out the who, what, where, why and how of the book as they are learned.
  • Pay Attention to Prefixes and Suffixes: When you or child uses a word with a prefix or suffix stop to talk about it. Break down the word and talk about what the suffix and the root word mean together. Think of other words that have that suffix or prefix. You can also write the word out on two separate cards, with the prefix on one and the root word on the other and make new words with the cards. Write down the different words with prefixes and suffixes you and your child use.
  • Make Up Your Own Version of a Story: After your child reads a story, make your own version of the story, changing details such as setting, time, or even a new ending. You can change the story so it occurs in places or with characters you know. This helps your child understand story structure and make comparisons. Or, make up your own version of a fairy tale or known story.
  • Play Time: Act out a favorite picture book or part from a chapter book. Use the book as a script, playing the different characters and narrators. You can even put on a performance for friends and family. 

Writing: 2nd Grade

by Shira Ackerman, MA

Second graders refine and expand their writing and grow as writers as they begin to write more detailed and longer texts and different types of texts. Technology is an important part of 2nd grade as students begin to use it to publish their writing. You can help support this by using technology at home with your child, in an appropriate and supervised manner. 

Similar to reading, writing occurs throughout the day as students learn a variety of subjects in addition to the specific writing lessons or times in class. For example, students may write about a math problem, explaining how they solved it or write about a topic they learned in science or social studies. All of this work makes them better writers overall.

In order to build writing skills your 2nd grader:

  • Writes a variety of types of texts including:
    • Opinion Pieces: Students state their opinions and provide reasons to support it and provide a conclusion.
    • Narrative Pieces: Students write about an event, describing actions, thoughts and feelings and provide a conclusion.
    • Informative/explanatory Pieces: Students introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a conclusion.
  • Revises and edits his writing in order to improve it.
  • Uses digital tools (with the aid of the teacher) to publish his writing.
  • Researches topics for shared, group or class-wide research and writing projects.

Writing Activities

  • Keep a Journal: Keep a family journal of trips, weekends and special times spent together. Your child can both write and illustrate the journal.  Pick a favorite entry from the journal and use it to expand your child’s writing. You and your child can write a longer piece or story about that event and illustrate it with photographs or drawings.
  • Research and Report: Pick a topic your child is passionate about and research it. Go to the library or look online together for information on that topic. Then work together to create an informative collage, magazine or article about that topic, using illustrations or photographs from magazines or online.
  • Write What You Think: Kids have very strong opinions! Ask your child to express her opinion about something through writing and be sure to explain reasons why she thinks this. Your child can then read the piece out loud to family members and take questions from the “audience.”
  • Read Other People’s Writing: Second grade is a great time for your child to start reading magazines made especially for kids such as Scholastic News. These often have many types of texts including narratives, fiction and non-fiction and opinion pieces.  Read the magazines together and talk about the articles. Reading these pieces will help your child become a better writer. 

Math: 2nd Grade

by Shira Ackerman, MA

Second graders continue to practice their addition and subtraction skills, eventually solving problems mentally and knowing how to add some numbers from memory. In many classes, math tools and manipulatives, such as blocks, tiles, and different shapes are used to help students practice math using concrete, visible objects. They learn to explain both how they solve a problem using words and writing, as well as break down numbers to gain a better understanding. This helps students truly understand the concepts underlying the math they learn. In addition, students in 2nd grade begin to learn concepts which lay the foundation for multiplication as well as continue to gain a deeper understanding of the concepts underlying the math they learn.

In order to build math skills your 2nd grader:

  • Adds and subtracts numbers from 1-20 using mental strategies and ultimately, by the end of the year, adds two 1 digit numbers from memory.
  • Solves one and two-step addition and subtraction problems with numbers up to 100, using drawings and equations and explaining the process.
  • Learns the difference between odd and even numbers.
  • Begins learning the foundations of multiplication by adding the same number to itself, (for example, 4+4) and grouping together the same number of objects to add up to more.
  • Understands and can break down a 3-digit number into groups of hundreds, tens and ones.
  • Reads, writes and counts up to 1000, including being able to count by 5’s 10’s and 100’s.
  • Compares 3-digit numbers, using the signs: >, < and =.
  • Practices adding together up to four 2-digit numbers by skip counting and adding smaller part of the numbers together.
  • Measures objects and uses different units of measurement. (For example, inches and centimeters.)
  • Estimates an object’s measurement and measures how much longer one object is than another.
  • Tells time using analog and digital clocks.
  • Begins to solve world problems involving money.
  • Creates picture and bar graphs, and answers questions about the data represented in the graphs.
  • Recognizes triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons, and cubes and their defining characteristics, such as the number of angles and faces.
  • Breaks up shapes into halves, thirds and fourths and uses smaller shapes to create larger ones.

Math Activities

  • Shop and Count: When you are with your child in the store have her help you figure out the math involved in paying. Talk about change received, total money spent or how much money you saved by using a coupon. You can also play “store” at home using real or game money.
  • Find and Build Shapes: When you see objects such as skyscrapers, picture frames, or even book shelves, ask your child to identify the different shapes she sees in it. Create your own objects using different shapes.
  • Make a Measure Treasure Hunt: Ask your child to measure different objects in the house. You can make this into a treasure hunt. Ask her to find two objects that are the same length, objects that are longer or shorter than each other and the longest or shortest object she can find.  She can even measure the people in your family. A tape measure, paper and pencil are all she needs!
  • Time It: Ask your child to time how long it takes her (or another family to do something). Record these times and figure out how much longer one time is than another or help your child break her own record. 

Science: 2nd Grade

by Shira Ackerman, MA

In 2nd grade students continue to explore the world around them but they do so in a more rigorous way as they make more detailed observations and use and collect data to support their observations. Second graders use hands-on experimentation to develop questions, hypothesis and make observations and conclusions. As in other grades, the specific topics studied in science vary according to state. However, common topics studied in 2nd grade include: earth and space; the human body; plants; the cycle of life; animals; and electricity and magnetism. Consult your child’s teacher or research your state’s science standards for more details.

In order to build science skills, your 2nd grader:

  • Uses observation and experimentation to learn about her world. Asks scientific questions and finds the answers to her questions.
  • Collects and uses data to support experiments and what she learns.
  • Records her observations both through writing and talking and uses her observations to explain and make conclusions.
  • Reads about different scientific concepts.
  • Works in groups and as a class to conduct experiments and create projects.

Science Activities

  • Compare Textures: Collect different textures from nature such as sticks, leaves, grass, stones and bark. Your child can make a collage out of them or blindfold your child and ask her to use her sense of touch to figure out what it was.
  • Use Your Senses: Go outside into nature and help your child take pictures, videos, draw and write about what she sees, hears, smells and touches. Be sure to focus on one sense at a time, for example have your child close her eyes and ask her to focus on what she hears. Your child can then create a poster, collage or short book of what she learned and observed.
  • Mix It Up: Let your child experiment and mix together different liquids. Add baking soda or baking powder. Have your child record her observations using text and illustrations and write down what she learned. Record differences and findings.
  • Read and Report: Your child can pick a scientific topic she enjoys such as animals, space or the human body. Research the topic together using books and the computer. Your child can then create a collage, short book or informative text about the topic and present it to family members and friends. 

Social Studies: 2nd Grade

by Shira Ackerman, MA

In addition to learning about specific topics, (which vary from state to state), 2nd grade social studies focuses on helping students develop their reading, writing, research and critical thinking skills as they gain a deeper understanding of history and society and share the new knowledge they learn. Teachers may use texts, photographs, film, art class trips and visitors to help students learn about a specific topic through different types of media and from different perspectives. In 2nd grade, there is also often a strong emphasis on comparing differences between groups and appreciating these differences.

In addition, many social studies lessons and projects integrate and overlap with other subjects such as reading, writing and math so 2nd graders continue to develop those skills as well.

In order to build social studies skills, your 2nd grader:

  • Learns about the history of his community and family.
  • Compares his own community with others, specifically with an appreciation for valuing difference and multiculturalism.
  • Gains a deeper understanding of geography and specifically that of North America, using maps to locate and identify different types of places, such as bodies of water, mountains, the equator, etc.
  • Learns more about government, its roles and how its officials are chosen.
  • Learns about important historical figures.
  • Uses reading, writing and art to deepen his understanding of concepts and portray what he has learned.
  • Learns about American holidays and important days and events.

Social Studies Activities

  • Compare Your Community: Learn about another community by visiting it or researching it together in books or online. Then make a chart comparing the differences between that community and yours.
  • Find the Historical Figures You Know: You and your child can talk with and interview an older family member or friend about an important or historical moment they experienced. This can be filmed or recorded, or you can even put together a poster or book of what you learned together.
  • Make Your Own Map: Help your child create a map of your home, neighborhood or another important location.

2nd Grade Book List

by Shira Ackerman, MA

Here are some book picks for your 2nd Grader:

  • The Empty Pot, by Demi: This book tells a Chinese folktale and addresses issues of honesty, the growth of plants and exposures to other cultures.
  • Henry and Mudge, by Cynthia Rylant: This humorous story of a boy and his dog is a good beginner chapter book.
  • The Ramona Series, by Beverly Clearly: This series about a girl and her family is a humorous chapter book that you and your child can read together.
  • Nate The Great Series, by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat: This series is a good introduction to the mystery genre. 
  • A Bad Case of Stripes, by David Shannon: This picture book uses an amusing approach to address social issues such as fitting in, which kids often face in school. 

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