The second grade curriculum focuses on the theme of People and Place. Children develop an understanding of geography and geology, and explore both the effect that the environment around us has on our lives, and the effect that people have on the land and water around them. Community is an important “throughline” as we explore our relationships with each other and with the larger community of school and the Chesapeake Bay area.

Language Arts

Reading and writing are thoroughly entwined in our curricular framework. Students use examples of good literature to inspire their writing. Although second graders read and write at various levels, they are able to have conversations around a common theme and practice reading and writing strategies.


Through direct teaching and looking for examples in our own writing and in the writing of the authors we love, children are exposed to grammar, including sentence structure, parts of speech, punctuation, and word choice.

word study

Our goal in word study is for children to develop a deeper understanding of spelling patterns, connect spelling to reading, and transfer words learned into daily writing. Through our research we know that spelling should be thought of as an ever-evolving body of knowledge.

Children explore the patterns and underlying structure of words through daily word study activities. Second graders also learn a set of sight words that are phonetically irregular and must be memorized.

reading workshop

A second grade goal is to encourage children to be aware of their reading processes; they think critically about what they understand, how they come to understand it, and how their personal experiences influence their comprehension. Different perspectives on and interpretations of material stimulate lively, interesting discussions.

As the year progresses, students consider the following reading strategies:

  • Summarizing
  • Synthesizing
  • Questioning
  • Inferring
  • Visualizing
  • Making Connections

writing workshop

Second graders practice their writing on both assigned and student-chosen topics. Students explore different types of writing including personal narratives, nonfiction, poetry, and persuasive writing. They are encouraged to see writing as a work in progress as they share their writing, get input from other students, and learn to revise their work. Sharing their writing helps children internalize questions and anticipate what their readers need to know. Through feedback and revision, students learn to make judgments about what to include and/or leave out of their compositions.

As the year progresses, students develop and incorporate the following writing tools:

  • Adding strong adjectives and verbs
  • Using similes
  • Developing suspense 
  • Including descriptive language and sensory detail


Second grade students have library once a week. Each class begins with a story followed by free time for children to explore the library; they find their favorite authors and learn about specific subject sections in the collection (e.g. animals, planets) and how to find them. They share books with their friends and become more independent library users.


Park’s math program allows for an open-ended problem-solving approach, development of real enjoyment working with numbers, and understanding based on the discovery of relationships. Using the math curriculum, Investigations in Number, Data, and Space, supplemented by units from Contexts for Learning Mathematics, teachers emphasize the learning process, thinking flexibly, problem solving, showing answers more than one way, and finding all solutions. The topics covered in second grade include:

  • Counting, Coins, and Combinations: Addition, Subtraction, and the Number System 
  • Shapes, Blocks, and Symmetry: 2-D and 3-D Geometry Stickers
  • Number Strings and Story Problems: Addition, Subtraction, and the Number System 
  • Trades, Jumps, and Stops: Early Algebra 
  • How Many Tens? How Many Ones? Addition, Subtraction, and the Number System
  • Parts of a Whole, Parts of a Group: Fractions 
  • Ages and timelines: Subtraction on the Open Number Line


How does change happen? How do scientists organize and carry out investigations to measure change? These are two of the big questions second grade scientists explore. Through hands-on exploration, discussion, and collaborative group work, students explore water and the water cycle, chemical and physical changes, and Earth Science. Students practice scientific process skills, create positive habits of mind, and learn how scientific models and literature are integral to understanding scientific processes and theories.


Second grade students explore the language and many distinct cultures of the Spanish-speaking world through themes that connect with the classroom curriculum. The Spanish curriculum allows for the use of targeted vocabulary and language and increasingly complex sentence structures across grade levels, providing the repetition needed to retain chunks of language. Among other topics, second graders explore family and pets, descriptive vocabulary, geography, and topography.


In second grade, many technology skills revolve around writing, editing, and formatting. Second graders use Kidspiration software and iPad apps such as Book Creator to organize and plan writing.

Second grade students learn advanced word processing skills such as spell-checking and formatting images within text. Students also begin to use Google accounts and the G Suite for Education program. These tools help students organize, collaborate, and effectively manage school work. Students learn about research and begin to apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. By the time students reach third, fourth, and fifth grades, their independent skills will have developed significantly.

Theme Studies, Social Studies, History

Interdependence is the focus of our theme study; the interdependence of people in a community, animals and plants in a biome, and people with their environment. Children explore ideas of identity, community, and culture throughout the year. Integrated into this work, we introduce students to concepts of geography and geology beginning with a particular focus on Moores Branch, the stream on our campus. Interdisciplinary projects are a dynamic part of second grade. Examples of projects include:

self portraits

In the second grade, children explore identity. Through discussions, literature, and writing they identify aspects of their own culture and notice and discuss similarities and differences. An important piece of this work is effective communication. We explicitly teach active listening and respectful ways to disagree and share our thinking. Children create representations of themselves that reflect who they are inside and out.


Students create their own maps and read a variety of nonfiction. They learn about landforms and explore the many types and applications of maps. They display their knowledge by making 2-D and 3-D maps, and creating a piece of descriptive writing to accompany them.

community PROJECT

In this integrated math and social studies project, students work together to build a community. Their work includes planning buildings and neighborhoods, assessing the community’s needs, and creating their own culture in response to the environment. This community is set in a biome that the children have chosen and researched. There is a great deal of cooperative problem solving, computation, and measurement involved in this project. Also included in our study of community are concepts concerning land use, changes over time, and the need to plan and conserve.