Our Second Grade Homeschool Curriculum | Classical and Charlotte Mason

This post is coming at you a year late. Ava is currently in the middle of her third grade year and we are still homeschooling. I’m going to share our third grade curriculum soon but first let’s back track to second grade.

The first half of the year we followed the Classical model as close as we could. In the second half of the year (we school year round) I started incorporating some Charlotte Mason concepts into our homeschool, specifically, shorter math lessons, narration, and the addition of nature journals.

In second grade, I still focused heavily on reading and writing. My goal was to get my daughter reading well on her own. I also wanted to work on increasing her attention span. Looking back, I think these two goals were accomplished. What was not accomplished however, was that mythical homeschooling concept called “rhythm.”

I longed for rhythm in our day-to-day homeschool (I bet my daughter did too) but (it felt like) we never achieved it. We are currently in the middle of third grade and I think I’m just now starting to see what could be a glimpse of rhythm in our day. I’ll let you know when I find it.

Below is the curriculum and books we used and Amazon affiliate links for you to check them out.

Language

Spelling Workout D

We liked Spelling Workout and used the workbooks in first grade as well. But, Ava completed half of workbook D and became bored with it. I think she progressed enough that it wasn’t challenging anymore and at that point we stopped using it. I still recommend the workbooks for 1st and second grade, though.

First Language Lessons Level 1

We started First Language Lessons in first grade and completed half of it. We finished the other half in second grade. I LOVE this book because the lessons are short, focused, and scripted (the book told me exactly what to say). First Language Lessons uses “copywork, narration, and picture study to develop the young student’s language ability.” My daughter (easily) memorized 7 poems using this book!

Writing- Copywork from various text books and reading books.

We did not complete a formal writing program in second grade. I felt the writing prompts in our history and bible curriculum were enough. For fun, Ava would copy paragraphs out of our Smithsonian Discover Earth and Discover Space books (my dad got them for us from Costco).

Reading

Ava read independently just about everyday and I read more advanced stories (C.S. Lewis) to her everyday as well.

Independent Reading:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Black Beauty

Guardians of Ga’Hoole (Ava didn’t finish it but that’s okay:)

The Tail of Emily Windsnap

The One and Only Ivan

The Green Ember

Highlights Magazines

Learning to Pray

Read Alouds:

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magicians Nephew

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Chronicles of Narnia: A Horse and His Boy

Leif the Lucky

Fact Tracker: Vikings by Mary Pope Osborne (We found this at the library and loved it!)

It was during our read alouds that we began incorporating narration. The basic gist of narration is asking the child to tell you in her own words what she read or heard in the story. Narration can be applied to any subject and is powerful because it helps the child to teach herself. We did not write down her narrations, we only talked about it.

Math

A Beka Arithmetic Grade 2

It pains me to say that my daughter took after me in math; she hates it. But the thing is she is doing well and learning new concepts without too much trouble. We started the year doing two lessons a day in the A Beka Arithmetic math book but soon shortened it to one math lesson a day. I do like A Beka Arithmetic and recommend it.

History

The Story of the World Volume 2: The Middle Ages and Test Book

In first grade we read the SOTW Volume 1: The Ancient Times and in second grade we continued the SOTW with Volume 2: The Middle Ages. We skipped the Activity Book and can accompany it and bought the Test Book instead. Honestly, I thought Volume 2 was dry and boring. Regarding the Test Book, I had to help my daughter complete the multiple choice and the short answer questions. I don’t think she remembered much or got much out it. I know the SOTW is popular among homeschoolers but I would not recommend the book (for Volume 2 at least). I wish we had gotten Volume 2 on audio CD instead and listened to it in the car.

History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations

We did a lot of reading and book work in second grade so these History Pockets were a welcomed change. My daughter loved them! We completed most of the “pockets” in first grade because that is when we studied Ancient History but we left two pockets, Ancient China and the Ancient Aztec pockets for second grade because that’s when The Story of the World: The Middle Ages mentioned these civilizations.

History Pockets are hands-on and crafty but not messy or overwhelming- everything is included besides the paper folder. There are so many too! I’m ordering the History Pocket for Life in Plymouth Colony next!

Science

First Encyclopedia of Our World

This is a wonderful little encyclopedia with full page illustrations. Ava would spend her time looking over the drawings and reading the explanations.

Christian Liberty Nature Reader Book 2

These Nature Readers are awesome. They were right at Ava’s reading level in second grade and she read them aloud to me while I cleaned the kitchen. They’re sweet, simple and give credit to the Creator for all the wonders of the natural world.

Nature Anatomy by Julia Rotham

Nature Anatomy is practically a cult classic among Instagram homeschoolers. I was so eager to get it but I was left disappointed. Don’t get me wrong- it is beautifully illustrated but for some reason it’s one of the most underutilized books in our home library. Maybe it’s because some of the handwritten text in the book is illegible or because the information in the book is so varied? I’m not sure. I wish I knew how to use this book more.

Parables From Nature

This book is recommend by Charlotte Mason enthusiasts and it is no joke. It was a bit advanced for my second grader but we have never shied away from reading advanced literature. “Parables from Nature weaves interesting facts from nature and science into stories.” We still have not finished the book but so far, Chapter 6 was our favorite chapter and was about something called a “Will-o-the-Wisp.” We had never heard of a will-o-the-wisp so we googled it. We learned (from Wikipedia) that a will-o-the-wisp is “an atmospheric ghost light seen by travelers at night especially over bogs, marshes, and swamps. It resembles a flickering lamp and is said to recede if approached drawing travelers from safe paths. This phenomenon is well attested to in English and European folklore.” My daughter and I thought this was so super interesting and took our time learning about the “Will-o-the-Wisp.” Parables from Nature is full of magic bits just like this.

Religion

Apologia’s Who is God? and Junior Notebooking Journal

This is a hefty (but not overwhelming) and effective curriculum to teach your child basic truths about the Christian faith. We really enjoyed it. I read the main book to my daughter, she listened and then we openly talked about it. No pressure, no tests. The Junior Notebooking Journal contains lesson plans and relatable activities for your kid. Highly recommend.

Art

Strathmore Sketch Pad and Studio Series Colored Pencils 

I learned about Nature Study and Nature Notebooks from Charlotte Mason and loved the idea. My daughter sketched some beautiful things in her nature notebook: sunflowers; tomato plants; camellias; aloe plants; martians (hey, it’s her notebook:) etc. We stopped using the Nature Notebook in third grade but I regret it. I think we are gonna practice this once a week again soon.

Fun Projects

Insect Lore Butterfly Garden

After learning about Insect Lore’s Butterfly Garden from Instagram’s homeschool community, I ordered one asap. Ava loved it. We “raised” Painted Lady Butterflies right in our living room and released them in our yard. The day we released them we had school outside and periodically saw our butterflies flying around. It was kinda magical.

 

Life Lessons

It’s important to me that my kids know what it takes to keep a home running smoothly. Plus, I like the help. Every morning Ava empties the dishwasher and sometimes she makes breakfast. Her little sister is also slowly learning to help, too. Ava’s other chores include getting the mail, bringing in the trash can, cleaning the litter box, and folding towels.

My Homeschool Planner and other Resources for Mom

For my homeschool planner I used Mardel’s A Simple Plan Homeschool Planner. I liked it a lot and definitely recommend it if you are in the market for a solid homeschool planner. It’s pretty, full of features, and very reasonably priced. But if you want one you’ll have to be quick- they sell out fast.

During second grade, I read two homeschool books that helped me in my teaching journey: Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie and A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison.

First off, both of these books are thin. They are easy, quick reads which is awesome because the last thing I need as a homechool mom is another big book to read.

Teaching From Rest encouraged me in many ways. It helped to eliminate that dreaded overwhelming feeling a lot of homeschooling parents sense when they think about being responsible for their child’s education. Most importantly, it helped me to realize that my child is a “soul to be cultivated, not a project to be managed.” This mindset changed everything for me. I know many people who re-read this book every year because it’s that good.

I wanted to incorporate more Charlotte Mason concepts into our homeschool and A Charlotte Mason Education was great because it summarized the key points in the original six volume (talk about big) home education series by Charlotte Mason herself. It’s a practical beginners guide to a Charlotte Mason education.

When Did We Do All This?

Most importantly, I want you to know that me and my second grader DID NOT DO ALL THESE SUBJECTS EVERYDAY. We aimed to do three things everyday: math, our advanced read aloud, and her independent reading. All the rest of it we did as we “felt” like it. I know this is not ideal and the inconsistency of it bothered me a bit. This is the “rhythm” we lacked that I talked about earlier. I have been homeschooling my daughter since Pre-K and I still feel like I don’t have it all together. The point is that we are still learning as we go together and I’m happy with that.

We had school Monday thru Thursday with Friday as a free day or a make up day depending on how the week went.

Gosh, that was a lot! I hope this post has helped you or given you some ideas and resources to check out for your homeschool adventure. Stay tuned for our third grade curriculum coming up soon! If you can recommend any books, activities, or homeschooling resources, please share them by leaving a comment below!