ABOUT OUR HOMESCHOOL
I’ve been blogging about our Homeschool curriculum choices for awhile now and have used a variety of things over the course of Preschool, Kindergarten, and First Grade. I’ve settled in to a few favorites and you will see some continuations from last year. At this point I prefer secular curriculum, but I do not mind sourcing a few things from religious-based companies as long as the curriculum can be adapted. I’ve landed on Blossom & Root as my go-to curriculum and we will be using almost all of their Second Grade year materials.
I’m choosing curriculum that makes sense for my second grader and our family values. The beauty and freedom of homeschooling is that there is not one perfect formula or expectation for every single child at the same level. So if you have a second grader, you might find there are some things that are more advanced for where your child is at and some things that your child mastered last year. That’s not something we should stress about or feel shame over. That is the gift of homeschooling! We get to choose and then make adjustments when things aren’t working or we feel like totally changing up the methodology.
A few curriculum options I will be sharing are currently in process. We are already working through a certain curriculum level because those items are mastery-based and it’s not like there is a clear line of NOW it’s second grade. It’s just what we are working through. So, you might see me share two different levels of a curriculum, just to say we will work through those as the year goes on.
Note that I have a second grader and a first grader for the 2021-2022 school year, so because my kids are so close together, there are a few things we do together – things like science and literature and history. So, in a way, a number of things I’m sharing are a hybrid first-second grade year. Again, with homeschool, I do not think it really matters what “grade” we call it.
I also understand that beyond curriculum people often want to know how the function of our actual school day works and how all the components come together in a sane and manageable way. I am always a bit overwhelmed when I read about other people’s curriculum choices because I’m like HOW are you doing all of that?!? So, I get it.
The HOW is just as important as the WHAT. But, for this post, we’re just going to discuss the WHAT. So, take a deep breath and let’s begin!
SECOND GRADE SUBJECTS
- Language Arts:
- Nature Study
- Art Appreciation
- Music Appreciation
Keep in mind: curriculum covers academic subjects but home education is about SO MUCH MORE than academics.
Also: it’s important to know your state’s legal requirements when it comes to homeschool. I am in a state with very little requirements or regulation, so I have quite a bit of freedom with my curriculum choices.
LANGUAGE ARTS: LITERATURE
For this coming school year I am combining Blossom & Root Level 1 Language Arts and Level 2 Language Arts. The Level 1 Language Arts has recently been updated and the entire selection of literature is different from the Level 1 that I used for First Grade. I was really excited to see all these changes and since I have a Second Grader and First Grader this year I thought it would work well to pull from both language arts curriculum pieces. So, I am using 16 weeks from Year 1 and 19 weeks from Year 2.
We will be reading from the following books:
- Tales Our Abuelitas Told: A Hispanic Folktale Collection (Level 1)
- An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Folk and Fairy Stories (Level 1)
- Vietnamese Children’s Favorite Stories (Level 1)
- Mangoes, Mischief, and Tales of Friendship: Stories from India (Level 1)
- American Tall Tales (Level 2)
- Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman (Level 2)
- Trickster Tales: Forty Folk Stories from Around the World (Level 2)
- The Tale of Despereaux (Level 2)
- Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Level 2)
What I am leaving out from Level 1 (Weeks 1-19 and Week 36):
- Classic tales and fairy stories
- Ananse stories
We already have read a lot of the stories used in the first half of the Level 1 Language Arts, so instead I wanted to incorporate the folktales from around the world from the second part. We also just finished a special unit on Africa and read a bunch of Ananse stories so I am leaving that out too.
What I am leaving out from Level 2 (Weeks 13-29)
We have already read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz twice together so I do not want to repeat that again. I’ve tried The Wind in the Willows before with my children and did not care for it. And — The Hobbit is a book both my husband and I have been excited to read with our children since before they were born! My husband *really* wants to read this with them, and so of course that’s what we will do! Therefore, I didn’t see the point in including it as a “school” focus where the kids would also do some narration and copywork. They’ll just read it for reading’s sake with their Dad.
I am also using a condensed version of this curriculum, focusing in on:
In addition, we may (or may not) incorporate some of the:
- Fun projects, play, and storytelling
- Journal prompts
***I’m skipping all the reading lists and poetry activities from the curriculum because we use a separate curriculum for reading and spelling (see below).
I printed out and bound an abbreviated student notebook using just the relevant narration and copywork pages for the corresponding weeks in Year 1 and Year 2.
Note that I do not expect ANYONE will be following exactly what I’m choosing to do for this year! I thought it would be helpful to share, though, to see how easy it is to adapt curriculum to suit your family for any number of reasons. For me, it came down to: (1) not repeating stories we have already read and (2) meeting my two children in the middle. I really love the style and literature choices Blossom & Root makes for their language arts program, so that’s why at the core I wanted to stick with that rather than just do a different curriculum.
READING AND SPELLING
We will continue using All About Learning for reading and spelling in our homeschool.
Right now, my 2nd Grade son is working through All About Reading Level 3 and we will begin All About Reading Level 4 at some point this school year. And what happens after Level 4? We’re in the “Read to Learn” phase, hooray!
I also wanted to mention that we do a lot of independent reading separate from the actual curriculum. My son can read a lot but we still stick with this reading curriculum because I believe in the effectiveness of giving a child a strong foundation for reading fluency.
You might be interested in this post: My Favorite Early Readers
My son also listens to audiobooks during his quiet time and throughout the learn-to-read phase we’ve enjoyed using ABC, See, Hear, Do products.
For All About Spelling my son is on Level 2 and we will continue on with other levels as he completes them. I will be purchasing Level 3 next! I also use this Primary Spelling Notebook from schoolnest — they work perfectly with All About Spelling because they have the same number of lines as the word lists in the curriculum.
If you are interested in getting a closer look at All About Reading Level 1 see this blog post.
I really love this curriculum BECAUSE it separates out reading and spelling into two separate tracks. We have tried a one-size-fits-all style curriculum (The Good & the Beautiful), and it did not work for us. Read about why All About Learning is customizable and why that might be a good fit for you here.
Note that we use the Letter Tiles app which is perfect for switching between the two curricula as well as switching between two different children at different levels.
WRITING AND GRAMMAR
Building Writers from Learning Without Tears
For this curriculum you can also download the Teacher’s Resources for free which have extra printable writing pages in this program’s format — these are SO great because you can write well beyond what the notebook provides!!
Handwriting Notebooks from The Good and the Beautiful
Note that these notebooks are not secular and include Bible verses.
Grammar and Punctuation from Evan Moore
I like the simplicity of the lessons in these notebooks. I have also looked at Easy Grammar and may give that a shot as well this year.
We will work on other types of writing activities through our language arts and history programs as well. And I have these fun resources to help inspire creative writing (which we will use with the Building Writers format:
Overall I still try to take a really gentle approach here and do a lot of writing WITH my kids, transcribing their words in little books they create or we verbally create stories through play. I also still write or type out for them their narrations when it comes to science and history.
For math we will be using Dimensions Math Level 2 from Singapore Math. I buy the Teacher’s guides, Textbook, and Workbook for each level.
You can read about our experience with Dimensions Math Level 1 on this blog post and why I love it so much!
Note that the curriculum rollout for the Home Instructor teacher guides for Dimensions Math has begun. As of this blog post, the Year 1 guides are available. The original Teacher’s Guides (like those pictured above) are designed for classroom use. Many activities assume several children can work together, which doesn’t always fit for a home experience. The Home Instructor guides are tailored for homeschoolers and eventually there will be a guide for the later elementary years. As soon as the Year 2 ones come out, I think I will purchase them. Though — I will say that using the Teacher’s Guides is working out just fine for me.
SCIENCE AND NATURE STUDY
One of my kids’ favorite parts of our school year last year was the Blossom & Root Science Unit – Wonders of the Earth & Sky. The format and style of this science curriculum worked well for our family.
The recommended books to pair with this curriculum are as follows:
- DK Eyewitness: Plants
- DK Eyewitness: Trees
- The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-Ups
- Nature Anatomy
- Farm Anatomy
I’ve also pulled out the following books to explore with our year of plants & fungi
We will also incorporate fun things to extend all the learning:
- Wildcraft game from Learning Herbs
- Herb Fairies book series
- The Complete Book of Flower Fairies
- Mushrooms Coloring Books
- Flower Study and Game
- Flower Families Go Fish
- Match A Leaf
A NOTE ABOUT NATURE STUDY
I like to say this a lot: nature is the curriculum. I mostly consider nature study to be simply: immersive nature experiences. Any kind of “nature study curriculum” to me should involve being outdoors and very little to no expense, printouts, resources, etc.
There is a Nature Study companion to the above-mentioned science unit, and I do have this printed and ready to use. The nice thing about this curriculum is there’s no particular order or schedule to it. The projects are all something we can fit in throughout the school year without it being overwhelming for me to prep. The big project ideas to coordinate with Plants & Fungi are things like creating your own leaf book with pressed leaves or seasonal wreaths out of plant material. Overall there are about 32 prompts and 4 bigger projects, all of which can be completed in whatever schedule makes sense to you.
I like the overall approach of the Blossom & Root curriculum when it comes to nature-based lessons. The idea is that it’s great and fine to have a prompt or guide, but the topics are never intended to be a fixed agenda that you hold fast to at the expense of letting your child’s interests and curiosity be the guide. Therefore, we will use this in ways that are fun and assist in learning our science concepts, but I won’t let this be something I feel we have to do.
This year for history we will be using History Quest: Middle Times. Last year we so enjoyed History Quest: The Early Times — the format and depth and richness of this curriculum was so lovely and I can’t wait to continue with it! The curriculum uses the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History to pair with lessons.
The Study Guide provides learning summaries, guided prompts, curated reading lists, suggested ways to plan out your week, examples for copywork, and additional crafts or engaging projects. You can just read the chapter-book style book of History Quest, but I highly recommend purchasing the Study Guide as well.
I created a unique student notebook for each of my children using some of the student pages provided by History Quest (in the Study Guide) but also included pages for copywork with ruled lines for my kids to write on, and then pages for illustrations and narration to summarize what they learned each week. If you follow me on Instagram, you can see the details of how I created this notebook in my “History Quest” stories highlight.
We will also be using this awesome History Timeline notebook from schoolnest to document our learning.
For art appreciation we will be using Blossom & Root Exploring the Math in Art (Year 2) which is such a unique and interesting way to approach art! We enjoyed the Year 1 version of this curriculum. In includes a simple picture study of a famous work of art (sourced from a wide range of artists and styles), then exploration of a math concept. There are also simple guided prompts to crate an art piece based on that week’s artwork and math concept.
I recently came across Drawing Workshop for Kids and hope to find ways to incorporate this with my kids this year!
My kids also take a weekly art class that they both enjoy attending — the teacher usually has different themes each month like ancient art or color theory. My kids also spend a lot of time with independent drawing and creating. I purchase drawing notebooks for them to fill up to their heart’s content.
We build in music appreciation to school as well and poetry. My kids have a few other activities they participate in but overall I try to keep lots of room for freedom and play and exploration in their days. I know all the above seems like a lot, but I want to be clear that we also do a whole lot of nothing in particular. It’s glorious sometimes and boring sometimes.
VIDEO INSIDE LOOK
WHAT THIS LOOKS LIKE ALL SCHEDULED OUT
I’m not going to give a fully detailed weekly schedule here, but just wanted to share a few quick thoughts about how all of this fits in to a week of lessons.
We work on our core academics Monday through Thursday. Every day I make sure we do (1) math, and (2) some form of language arts (reading, narration, literature project, copywork, writing, spelling are all options — we might do a couple of these but I would never do all those in one day!)
I then rotate and switch around history and science lessons, typically spending maybe 2-3 days on each of those topics, depending on that week’s topic and/or my childrens’ interest level. Some weeks I’m sure we could do science in one day. I’m pretty flexible with how we spend time on these subjects. I just try to make sure I’ve done a library grab of topical books in advance (based on curriculum suggestions), and we go from there!
Fridays are for nature time, poetry and art appreciation.
And of course we take breaks here and there just because. I don’t keep a planner or anything. I might look one month or two in advance just to get a general idea of where we are headed with the topics and how we might need to work around holidays and celebrations, but I would never strictly plan out our weeks far in advance!
FOR FURTHER READING
You can find more details about our curriculum choices for Preschool, Kindergarten, and First Grade here. I also have lots of general homeschool related resources on that page!
Thanks for following along with us. I know some of you have been with me since the very beginning of our homeschool journey and I can’t believe we’re on to 2nd grade now! It’s so fun and crazy.
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