Grade Two Curriculum
Second grade builds upon the foundations of rhythms and form established during the previous year. Each day the class continues to work to form healthy classroom habits, such as being respectful and considerate of others, taking turns and listening to one another. The children practice how to sit on their chairs, to sit up attentively during recall and story and to take care of their desk contents.
In second grade, the children review all that they have learned so far. This year, stories of saints and holy people, as well as fables, form the basis of the language arts curriculum. Using poetry and speech exercises in morning circle activities, teachers continue to augment the children’s sense of appreciation for language and vocabulary. Now the children begin to learn the phonemes, vowel and consonant combinations, and basic spelling rules. Lowercase letters are usually introduced at the beginning of the year. The teacher writes on the board to model proper capitalization and punctuation and the children read the text as a class and copy it. At this point, the teacher may point out the basic rules of capitalization. Children will begin writing their own sentences and some may write short Paragraphs.
In the second half of the year, the class begins to read either together or in small groups. Teachers choose books with an emphasis on rich language, age-appropriate content and beautiful illustrations to meet each student’s level of proficiency.
Whole language and phonics bring the child from the letters and words of first grade into the world of reading. In second grade, language arts are conveyed primarily through stories of the saints and fables, but Native American tales and nature stories are used as well. The fables offer views of human frailties and foibles that appear in all of us, while the saint legends offer contrasting images of a higher self. During the morning circle, children recite numerous poems that are either based on the seasons or the main lesson content.
A tremendous work ethic is developed during second grade. Beautiful handwriting is stressed. The upper case letters are reviewed and lower case letters are introduced and an emphasis is placed on forming letters with the proper proportions, the correct pencil grip, and good posture. As part of the class writing exercises, the class studies the proper way to write a paragraph, using capitalization, indentation, hyphenation, margins, and punctuation.
New work with consonants may include learning the consonant blends at the beginning and end of words. The teacher will systematically lead the class through the silent ‘E’ and other long vowel combinations. Diphthongs and exceptions are taught as time and the capacity of the class permits. Commonly used sight words are also stressed.
Traditionally at Mountain Laurel, the second grade performs the first play of the year, “Saint George and the Dragon,” at the Michaelmas festival, rooted from the saint stories in the curriculum.
In second grade, the children begin counting up to 1,000. From first grade, they carry forward the practice of times tables in a variety of rhythmic activities during morning circle. The children work to learn the tables 1-12 by heart this year. They continue with the four processes and are introduced to place value through a story. The class learns how to carry and borrow with numbers up to the hundreds using objects and their imaginations to help enliven the concept. Written problems go from horizontal to vertical this year, using both forms to keep students’ thinking flexible. Mental arithmetic is image driven and practiced daily.
Nurturing the children’s exploration of the natural world is continued in second grade as the class teacher may choose to include a nature block in the course of the year. Nature-based verses and songs continue as well as craft projects and field trips. Walks or bike-rides along the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, the Wallkill River and visits to local apple farms provide the children with the opportunity to observe and experience the seasonal changes in a natural environment.
Nature stories based on the seasons and elements prepare the children for the phenomenological-based approach to the sciences in the middle grades.
The curriculum continues to be based on oral repetition and imitation, now including choral repetition of material. The children are introduced to new vocabulary, fables, legends and stories of saints pertinent to Spanish culture.
In second grade the teacher continues to encourage the children to explore their immediate surroundings, and the larger world, through songs, poems and stories.
History is brought into second grade through the study of animal fables, including multicultural tales from around the world, and Western fairytales that encompass wisdom from Eastern and indigenous peoples’ traditions. The second graders also experience biography for the first time through hearing the life stories of saints and sages, holy men and women who may have lived long ago on the cusp of recorded history (St. George, Saint Lucia); or more recently (Mother Teresa); or even those who are still living today (Amachi).
Singing and flute practice continues on a daily basis in second grade with children learning more complex pieces through imitation and careful listening. The material brought relates to main lesson themes, festivals and the seasons. Singing, dancing and flute playing are often incorporated into music and work share presentations as well as class plays.
In second grade, form drawing expands into more complex forms involving horizontal and vertical symmetry, important for letter perception and writing, loops and loop symmetry, preparation for cursive writing in the third grade, as well as forms that grow or metamorphose.
Weekly painting in second grade continues to use the wet on wet technique with form beginning to emerge out of color as the children paint many of their acquaintances from the fables and saint stories heard throughout the year.
Second graders are introduced to the sculpture program and the sculpture teacher during a weekly lesson. The class begins by sculpting, with beeswax, archetypal forms, and moves on to forms introduced in the main lesson work.
The second graders learn how to crochet, creating belts, potholders, and flute/recorder cases to hold their instruments.
Second grade jumps into pedagogical eurythmy forms, beginning with an exercise called “I and You” from Rudolf Steiner. Here the children are challenged to move between personal and social space exploring aspects of polarity and symmetry as in the main lesson through journeys to the land of Magic Mirror, where the children mirror forms and gestures through observation and partner work. The inner shift from the mirror to metamorphosis is apparent as second grade form drawing progress is marked in eurythmy through the careful introduction of The Curves of Cassini. The emphasis is on the children’s ability to flow easily from one kind of mood to the next, such as in stamping and skipping games and folk dances that encourage them to move throughout the group with different partners. Tone eurythmy begins with simple rhythmic stepping and attention to musical phrasing.
Eurythmy will be brought to the children in two blocks in the 2018/19 school year.
Games in second grade continue to be presented by the main lesson teacher as part of the morning circle work as well as by language teachers as a means of engaging the active will of the child in learning new vocabulary. The second grade children continue to have plenty of time outdoors, with a balance of free, creative/imaginative play and class games to support the continued strengthening of the social dynamic of the class.