2nd Grade Curriculum
Second grade is a year of discovery during which students explore new things and enthusiastically engage in learning. With ever-increasing confidence, they apply previously acquired skills and grow more fluent in the core subjects of language arts and mathematics. At The Geneva School, second graders begin their journey on the history and Bible timeline, and they spend much of the year excavating the wonders of Ancient Egypt and seeing God’s faithful provision for the Israelites. Through imaginative play and interactive learning centers, students gain experience that shapes their minds, orders their loves, and develops a strong sense of respectful community. An introduction to symbolic thinking allows students to think metaphorically and experiment with using pictures to represent greater meaning. Children enjoy culminating experiences including the Winnie the Pooh play, The Exodus play, and Egypt Day, each of which enhances students’ imaginations and enriches their learning experience.
History in second grade begins with the creation of the world and ends with Egypt’s fall to Rome. Students enthusiastically marvel at the exploration of ancient cultures and are encouraged to benefit from the best each had to offer in its history, art, religion, and architecture. A study of the history of writing allows students to experiment with the ancient cuneiform wedge-shaped script of Mesopotamia and the hieroglyphic picture writing of Ancient Egypt. Discovering the mysteries of these ancient writing forms reveals stories of these cultures and fills students with curiosity and engagement in learning. The story of Jean Francois Champollion’s passionate efforts to unlock the mysterious code of hieroglyphics inspires students to persevere and to set goals for their future. Students continue to follow ancient peoples through history, meeting both the strong and weak pharaohs of Egypt, the fascinating gods and goddesses worshiped by the ancient Egyptians, and the many warriors and intellects whose inventions and ideas influenced history. A study of the Great Pyramids of Giza stretches students’ thinking as they speculate how and why the pyramids were constructed and compare and contrast the ancient Egyptian beliefs about death and the afterlife with our Christian beliefs. Students delight in the opportunity to walk through the mummification process by mummifying their own chicken leg and creating a decorative sarcophagus for their chicken pharaoh’s burial. Students complete the year with a culminating event called Egypt Day where they celebrate and apply their learning in meaningful ways.
With a desire for all students to love stories, we strive to equip them to become confident readers through daily practice and instruction. Second graders naturally delight in books and eagerly engage in small group instruction where they read literature based on their interests and reading abilities. At this age, reading fluency is developing and students begin to read with greater expression and for deeper understanding. Reading groups allow students to practice their skills and increase their comprehension strategies. Students explore main ideas, answer detailed questions, learn to use context clues, and predict outcomes through inferencing. Geneva’s spelling program, Spell to Write and Read, supports fluency development because it allows for ongoing practice with basic phonograms and rules for proper spelling. Through multimodal techniques, it teaches skills for word attack, syllabication, and pronunciation that work hand-in-hand with a guided approach to fluent reading. With many tools for success, second graders find themselves enjoying books with ease at school and at home.
To be able to express oneself in written form is an important skill. At Geneva, second graders continue to learn the art of letter formation and develop a mastery of manuscript D’Nealian penmanship. Once letter formation becomes more automatic, students are able to turn their focus toward communicating through the construction of beautiful and effective sentences. Students enjoy Susan Wise Bauer’s Writing with Ease curriculum where they are exposed to classical compositions that serve as models for the young writers. Students’ imaginations are piqued as they hear excerpts from classic literature and then have the opportunity to summarize these passages in their own words. Becoming proficient in summarizing a story allows students to identify key components of a passage while also finding their own voice in their composition. Through copywork and dictation of sentences, students study the artistry of a well-crafted sentence and learn applicable grammar and punctuation skills. Studying classic authors who are masters at composition allows students to develop excellent writing skills at an early age. As they age-appropriately model after experts, students joyfully and confidently engage in written expression.
The books selected for second grade’s study of literature captivate students’ imaginations and present them with themes of friendship, community, and perseverance. Students begin the year enjoying the experience of having picture books read aloud to them. In Winnie the Pooh, students delight in the wit and charm of A.A. Milne’s composition and they enjoy the differing personalities of the characters. Just like each class of students, the characters work together, encourage one another in weaknesses, and celebrate the strengths of each individual. Rehearsing and performing a play about Winnie the Pooh teaches many lessons about friendship as students make a lifelong connection with this beautiful classic. Reading The Velveteen Rabbit engages students’ imaginations about the power of love to transform. Students reflect upon how love has transformed their lives, and they delight in hand sewing their own stuffed velveteen rabbit to remember this work of literature. As students read about the newly forming family in Sarah, Plain and Tall, they find themselves admiring and identifying with the characters while also developing an appreciation for the art of storytelling. Imagining life on a farm is made more applicable as students have the opportunity to enjoy a visit to Uncle Donald’s Farm during this literature unit. Second graders end the year reading about the childhood adventures of animal lover Farley Mowat in the book Owls in the Family. An appreciation for the outdoors and the ups and downs of exotic pet ownership brings much delight and laughter. Students experience tastes of Mr. Mowat’s adventures as they participate in a pet parade and go on a canoe trip. Through the beauty of these well-told stories, students delight in reading and the art of storytelling.
Second grade library class acquaints the students with the best of the Caldecott Award winning titles and encourages discussion about art medium and story elements. They are introduced to library concepts and the different types of books found in libraries.
In math, the aim is for students to develop a strong number sense where they are able to demonstrate why basic algorithms work, rather than simply memorizing methods. While experimenting with numbers and math concepts through hands-on activities, the goal is that students will find joy in realizing that God has created a world full of mathematical patterns and relationships. The Singapore approach found in the Math in Focus curriculum supports this goal. Concepts are first presented concretely through manipulatives, then explored using pictures and drawings, and finally represented by abstract number sentences. Math is taught in context, and students appreciate the story that is connected to the beauty of mathematics. Students also enjoy games and activities, such as playing “Blast Off!” to practice math facts, using Cheezits to learn about area, and observing a balance scale while experimenting with the mass of different objects. Through the Amazing Math Adventure field trip, the students engage in a real-world experience with math concepts, which opens their eyes to the ways math skills are both a delightful and necessary part of everyday life.
The second grade Bible curriculum begins with creation and follows the early families of God through the books of Genesis and Exodus. Students marvel as each story reveals the mercy and faithfulness of our good God to his chosen people. Our faith is not founded on the perfection of Adam, Noah, or Abraham, but instead it is deeply rooted in the lavish grace of our mighty and unfailing God and the perfect gift of his son, Jesus Christ. Students begin to see how each old testament story points to the need for a perfect Savior; second graders relate to the characters studied and wonder what they would do if they were in the same situation. The concrete thinking of second graders begins to open up to ideas of forgiveness and how a sinful character can be used for God’s glory. Students are encouraged to imagine how God is writing his story in their lives too. The year ends with a study of the Israelites’ oppression in Egypt, and second graders cry out to God for freedom as they perform The Exodus play. Imagining the literal struggles of slavery, students also think about being a slave to sin and the need to be set free from spiritual oppression. Throughout the year, students fill their hearts and minds with rich passages of Scripture including Psalm 24, Mary’s Magnificat, Isaiah 61, and Exodus 15. They also delight in memorizing numerous hymns and spiritual songs including “I Sing Th’Almighty Power of God”; “Comfort, Comfort Ye My People”; “Come Thou Fount”; and “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand.”
The Library of the Scribes
As second graders enter the world of Ancient Egypt, they find themselves entering the Library the of Scribes, which is located in the Nile delta. In this school, the scribes are taught about the world around them. Their knowledge is based on practicality. The students are posed with the problem of how the Egyptians may have built the pyramids without modern machinery. Through this process, they spend time working with simple machines. Also during this period of history, people studied the heavenly bodies in order to see their connection to the rest of creation. The moon and later the star Sirius were used to predict the flooding of the Nile. Students likewise study the phases of the moon and movement of the planets. Further, they get their hands dirty working with rocks, sand, and soil to discover the behavior of the river and understand the ever-changing landforms on our planet. A snake dissection and mummification of a chicken are additional activities which further hone their scientific skills and understandings.
The language arts are a centerpiece of classical education, and the study of foreign languages, ancient and modern, has always been part of the core classical curriculum. Students continue their study of Spanish begun in kindergarten and first grade. The basics of pronunciation, grammar, cultural knowledge, and essential vocabulary are encountered largely through song, play, and teacher-facilitated dialogue.
There are two basic goals of early language acquisition at Geneva: cultivating the skills of language learning that will support all later language study and fostering the cultural understanding necessary for living in a community increasingly influenced by Latin American culture.
In every grade at The Geneva School, music study and performance are vital to developing an aesthetically rich liberal arts education. Second grade students continue their general music study through the Kodaly Method. Vocal exploration continues as students sing to tell stories, play games, and improvise patterns. They learn to play and identify hand percussion in categories such as woods, skins, metals, and shakers. They also use their developing penmanship to notate musical patterns that they later perform on violin or percussion instruments. Students learn how to perform, respond, connect, and create through music, and they continue their exploration of the Elements of Music through their experience with pitch, rhythm, dynamics, melody, tempo, and form. Second grade’s study of the Old Testament provides a unique opportunity to teach and connect well-loved hymns and African-American spirituals to the stories of God’s faithfulness to the Israelites.
Second grade students continue their general music study with additional violin instruction one day per week, focusing on instrument care, postures and positions for properly playing the instrument, pizzicato technique, and bowing technique.
By second grade, students have been introduced to the elements of art (e.g., line, balance, value, rhythm, etc.). Their knowledge is reinforced through the study of the art of the Ancient Near East and Egypt as well as some projects based on classroom literature. Students learn about the symbolic meaning of the lotus flower in Egyptian culture and paint it onto papyrus. While learning about Mesopotamia, they carve their names into air-dry clay using cuneiform symbols. Second graders study famous artists including Henri Matisse and even create their own version of Les Bêtes de la Mer. They are encouraged to explore the use of a variety of media as they develop more independence in their artistic choices and appreciate, at a beginning level, the difference in styles. These students watch, learn from, and encourage each other in accomplishments and projects.
The drama program not only seeks to enrich students’ learning through exploring history and literature in an experiential fashion but also seeks to build character through the rehearsal and production process. Students are given responsibilities appropriate to their developmental level and are encouraged to problem-solve and work together as an ensemble to creatively tell their story, emulating the body of Christ using their unique gifts for one common goal. As a student progresses through the grammar school, he or she is involved in many productions. With each play, the student grows more and more confident in front of an audience.
In second grade, the students perform a hilariously winsome story from Winnie the Pooh as well as The Exodus play which tells the powerful story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Both plays incorporate students as narrators. This narration helps the actors remember the action in the story and serves as a kind of safety net for these young thespians. To encourage a safe environment, teachers are on hand with scripts to prompt the students when necessary. There are very few entrances and exits, with adults on hand to assist the students.
The Geneva School is committed to providing a PE curriculum which allows for frequent and diverse opportunities to engage in physical activities necessary to support a healthy mind and body. Second grade students learn the importance of caring for their physical bodies as a moral responsibility and as part of their reasonable service to God. Students develop and improve specific motor abilities such as balance, speed, agility, power, and coordination. The PE curriculum develops integrative movement skills and combination skills through practice and play. Students explore activities that develop motor proficiency and creative expression. At the end of the year, the students enjoy parachute and scooter play that incorporates cooperative activities. By the end of second grade, students understand the importance of regular exercise, teamwork, and expressive play and recognize integrity as part of their personal responsibility to God and others.
Field Trips and Culminating Events
Second grade’s culminating events are wonderful opportunities for students to celebrate learning in experiential ways. For example, frolicking through the Hundred Acre Wood in Winnie the Pooh or lamenting with the Hebrews in The Exodus play, second graders cultivate their moral imagination and enjoy bringing stories to life through dramatic plays. Students sing songs, memorize lines, develop gestures, and respond to cues which hone foundational skills while creating joy and inspiring wonder. Field trips are also an integral part of the second grade experience. A visit to a farm provokes wonder and invites children to imagine life on a farm as they milk a goat, feed cows, and learn fascinating facts about the farm animals. A trip to the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey provides students with the opportunity to learn about God’s creation and the importance of caring for it. The SALT Serveathon develops compassion for homeless people as students make blessing bags that are distributed to the homeless in Orlando. As a final event, second graders experience Egypt Day and reflect upon their growing understanding of an ancient culture’s history, religion, and art.
All year, second graders explore ancient Egyptian culture, building their own educational pyramids of facts and information about this fascinating people group. As the year comes to a close, the capstone of the second grade experience is celebrated through Egypt Day. Students arrive to a hallway transformed into an ancient Egyptian tomb filled with artifacts and Egyptian paintings created by second graders themselves in the classic composite style. Students are greeted by an archaeologist who tells them of his discovery of King Tut’s tomb and then welcomes them into the ancient tomb to see these artifacts for themselves. The day is filled with wonder and awe as students apply their knowledge of Egyptian culture at the various learning centers. Some highlights include creating a Geneva Stone in the style of the Rosetta Stone, participating in chariot racing, excavating artifacts buried in hardened plaster, and completing the final stages of the mummification process for their chicken mummy in the Egyptian temple. Students go home with faces painted in Egyptian style, their necks and wrists adorned with Egyptian collars and jewelry, and their minds full of rich memories of their day of adventure.
Amazing Math Adventure
Uncle Donald’s Farm
Audubon Center for Birds of Prey
Wekiva Springs Canoe Trip
Winnie the Pooh Play
Velveteen Rabbit Sewing
First Lessons and Carols
The Exodus Play
Closing Ceremony and Music Recital