Time to unbox our second grade homeschooling curriculum! When I was a kid we got one big box delivered each summer from the Calvert Academy. I still remember the way it looked and smelled and how excited I was to open it (book nerd even then). It had everything inside for the school year–even the pencils.
I am grateful that there are A LOT more options now. But there is a downside to that as well. How do you ever chose what to spend hard-earned money on? Will it be easy to use? Is it going to take too much time? Will it be fun? Will it be effective? That’s why I share with you only we use and love. I promise to never recommend something that we haven’t found to be effective and a good value for the money. And I will update this post as necessary throughout the year if we add to it or our opinions change.
Many of these choices are old favorites we are continuing from first grade. And some of them are new materials we are excited to try out. I will give a little explanation on why each of these made the cut.
We are carrying on with Horizons Math from first grade. I love its spiral-based approach that breaks down complex concepts into small steps. With this approach, mastery of a concept is not required in the beginning. Rather, skills are introduced and then circled back to (thus “spiral” approach) many, many times in bite-sized, digestible chunks.
The teacher’s guide is wonderfully detailed and easy to use. It includes lots of optional worksheets if extra help is needed. And a favorite feature are the “teaching tips” which give helpful and fun ideas for explaining and practicing concepts.
This curriculum relies heavily on manipulatives, many of which you can find or make at home but some of which you are better off purchasing. Here is a post about the ones we purchased for first grade and will use again in second. Worth every penny!
Horizons Readers are another resource we are using again because we found them so helpful. The lessons are short excerpts of classic books, stories, and poetry. And each lesson begins with a proverb or maxim that can be used in character studies or memory work.
I buy the two-book set separately from the Horizons phonics curriculum because I use different product for phonics. Read about that here. Plus, I’m transitioning from phonics to spelling this year anyway.
I use these books for my daughter to practice reading aloud. The lessons are just the right size so that it’s not overwhelming. And I also use them for reading comprehension. The first grade books have comprehension questions at the end of the lessons–the second grade books do not. But we will just do a short narration of each lesson instead.
Of course, there is TONS of other reading done besides this: in social studies, in science, for fun, etc. But this is for formal practice and comprehension.
My daughter and I are more excited to try our new spelling curriculum, All About Spelling, than anything else I think. I have chosen this for three important reasons to transition from phonics to spelling:
- It is phonics based. SO important to me. I believe strongly in a blend of whole-language/phonics instruction when learning to read, with a heavy emphasis on phonics. Learning spelling words in “word families” makes so much sense, just like learning to read them.
- It teaches spelling rules. This fits right along with our classical education approach. And, while it seems old-fashioned to some, I prefer her to learn rules to apply and when to apply them, rather than just memorizing lists of words.
- It is MULTISENSORY and INTERACTIVE! This resource uses each learning style to tackle spelling from all angles of your child’s brain. You need to purchase the interactive kit once, but then it can be used in all future grade levels as well.
There is an easy to follow teacher’s manual that takes you step-by-step. And they build review into every lesson, which is a major plus since success in spelling requires practice, practice, practice.
First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind is a simple, inexpensive, and effective grammar resource. I highly recommend a solid introduction to grammar in the early years. That way when your little ones begin to write lengthier, original pieces they can concentrate on content rather than agonizing over forming complete sentences. We are using Level 2 this year, which has a seamless flow from Level 1.
I love this resource because it is not too intense–bite-sized lessons with just the right mix of new content and review of previously learned concepts. It includes lots of opportunities for memory work for those classical homeschoolers. And it has optional enrichment activities for those who would like to do more.
This is the piece of our curriculum I have upgraded the most this year. Meaning, I have gone from a simple manuscript workbook to a real-deal curriculum. We will be using Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Level 2C. The full set includes a teacher’s manual, student workbook, and another workbook for extra practice.
It focuses on the “four keys to legibility”: shape, size, spacing, and slant. I love that it reminds the student to self-check. I think that is a very important skill to teach early on in technical subjects. And it includes a CD with sing-along songs that “combine music, movement, rhythm, and rhyme to help students develop gross and fine motor skills, spatial awareness,letter recognition, and letter formation.” I can’t wait to incorporate my preschooler in that as well!
This curriculum transitions from manuscript to cursive mid-year. I know. I know what you’re thinking. Cursive in second grade? I might be a little insane here. I’ll let you know how it goes. But there is also a level for second grade that is just manuscript–no cursive–in case you’re not crazy like i am.
I was extremely happy with my choice for first grade science and we are sticking with it for second. This year’s set is called Earth Science and Astronomy for the Grammar Stage from the great people at Elemental Science. This is specifically designed to fit with the classical education trivium we use.
You will need at least the teacher guide and student workbook, as well as some reference materials. Last year, we supplemented with LOTS of library books as well. I highly suggest checking out their website. They offer an experiment kit with everything you need for the year, lapbooking templets, coloring pages, and more optional resources. They also give multiple choices for the reference materials you need. This is great because it allows you to choose based on ages of children, budget, etc. Here are some of our choices.
This curriculum is highly adaptable for different schedules and teaching multiple grades at once. I am so happy I found these guys!
My daughter can’t wait to pick up where we left off with The Story of the World: The Middle Ages. This is the second of four books that takes students through all of recorded history chronologically. We purchase the text book (which has short, engaging chapters) and activity book (which is also the teacher’s manual). The activity book is awesome. It includes review questions, narration exercises, suggested supplemental reading for a variety of ages, projects, maps, and coloring pages.
We use The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History as a companion reference book with it. This provides lots of colorful pictures to go along with each topic and links to fantastic websites for additional information and projects.
I love that it is adaptable for a variety of ages. This makes it very easy to teach multiple children with one curriculum. I love the map activities in it, but I will be supplementing that with a light geography curriculum this year.
The maps with Story of the World are perfect for providing context about the specific topic we are studying in history. But it lacks some more general geography instruction about maps, directions, continents, oceans, etc. So I am going to be using Beginning Geography for K-2 to supplement.
This looks like a lot of fun and a pretty light addition to any curriculum. It has 93 reproducible pages and 2 full-color maps. It covers nine different map skills and has review pages for a range of levels so you can choose one to fit your child–or they can do them all!
I was so fortunate to find Masterpiece Society. Alisha offers many online art lessons. But she has just developed a set of art appreciation courses which are perfect for teaching little ones how to appreciate fine art. They are super easy to use, great for teaching multiple ages at once, and you can purchase anything from one artist study to the whole set. Please check out her website for more details and to see how beautiful the samples are!
We love our nature walks! I am mostly a classical education homeschoolin’ momma. But every once in a while some Charlotte Mason creeps in. So I was so happy to find Lara at Everyday Graces. She has created this beautiful watercolor nature journal which is perfect for recording your narrations, coloring pictures, and pasting treasures you find. I love that you can print out extra pages, if you need lots of bird pages for example. While you are checking it out, look for her Charlotte Mason Planner as well!
So that is what our second grade year looks like! My daughter has been on summer break for about two weeks and is already asking when she can start on her new books. Just like first grade, there are a lot of “extras” we will be hitting too like:
- foreign language,
- home ec.,
- computer use.
I will share our adventures in those subject as well. But we do those a little more informally and work them in where time permits.
What are your picks for second grade? Do you use any of these? Let me know what you think!