Curricula 2013-2014 - 2nd Grade

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I can't believe my little guy is going to be in 2nd grade! He's been home for school with me since pre-k. We started out with more of a classical approach, but then we found Heart of Dakota last year, and fell in love. I have since read more about Charlotte Mason. We did Bigger Hearts last year because I thought that Silas was far too advanced for Beyond. In some ways, I suppose he was. I have come to believe, however, that these early grammar stage years shouldn't be overwhelming. I mostly want to foster a love of learning in these first few years of school. I think I could have moved Silas forward into Preparing, but I decided to do something a little unconventional. I am going to take a step back into Beyond Little Hearts instead of moving on to Preparing.  Why you ask? Well, first of all, Preparing has a ton more writing. I think he could handle it, but I don't think he needs to handle that just yet. He's only in second grade, and has plenty of time to develop those skills. I am sad to separate the boys, but I was finding more and more that Silas couldn't keep up with Aedan. Of course he gave it his all, but I didn't feel it would be good for his self esteem long term to compete with his brother who is a full 3 years older than he is. Beyond is the perfect guide for my little guy this year. I am adding to it to keep it at the level that we reached in Bigger, so I don't feel we will be stepping back in skill in any way.

Heart of Dakota Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (BLHFHG) focus on American history from 1565-1865. We will learn what it was like to live during that period through living books. This is the Beyond economy package.

I love HOD book selections. Often I have thought that a book didn't look that interesting, but have always been pleasantly surprised. I have learned to trust HOD book choices for that reason. These books will be our read alouds for storytime. We will read through books in these genres: biography, adventure, historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, nonfiction, humor, realistic fiction, and folk tales. It was interesting to see what book genre my boys were drawn to last year. I can already guess which ones will be their favorites. These books are a mixture of selections from the Beyond classic, boy and girl (Shhhh! don't tell tell the boys!) interest sets.

We will continue our literature study in Drawn Into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR.) We will read through the level 3 books this year. This is the level 3 book pack. DITHOR follows the same sequence of genres as the storytime book. Silas is a really strong reader. He will be using the DITHOR level 2/3 student workbook again this year.

We will learn various bible verses, and Hide 'em in Your Heart Vol. 2 will aid us in doing so. Morning Bells is a little devotional we will read once a week.

BLHFHG includes hands on science activities using God's Wonderful Works as the spine. I will be adding additional science, but my boys love as much science as they can get. The activities that are scheduled are quick and easy to do, and add a fun factor to our day.

This is where I start straying from Beyond's plans. I added to Bigger Heart's science last year as well. I felt that the boys needed additional science, and I feel the same about this year. I really love Elemental Science (ES.) Instead of moving into Chemistry I decided to wait on that until 3rd grade. We did life science in kindergarten, but it was one of the subjects I failed to complete. We did ES Earth/Space last year and loved it. It was easy to accomplish, and the experiments were so fun for my science loving kid. This year will will do ES Biology. We will cover animal life, the human body, and plant life.

Again, I will stray from Beyond's plans for language arts. Silas did First Language Lessons (FLL) 1 in K, and then R&S 2 last year. Instead of moving him forward into R&S 3 I chose to use FLL2. We already own it, and I really think it's a great one for 2nd grade. Institute for Excellence in Writing just came out with their new writing program for 1st and 2nd graders. I have sat in a few seminars that IEW did, so I think I can manage implementing this without the Teaching Style and Structure DVD's. I hope to buy them someday, but my budget is already shot (and who has 175 bucks laying around anyway?)  Bible Heroes includes vocabulary, and lots of fun little games to do with the lessons. I cut them all out already, so I make sure that they actually get done.

We worked through All About Spelling level 1 and 2 in K, and I think it really helped Silas to have the confidence to put his pen to the paper. I planned to go through these last year, but moving 3 times didn't help that didn't get done. It was one of the few things I dropped because I just couldn't make it happen with the tiles and whiteboard. It's not a portable kind of program. I do think it is the best, however, so I'm hoping to get through it. We worked through R&S 3 last year, and I definitely didn't want to move him to the 4th grade book just yet. I still love R&S spelling as well. We will probably return to R&S in the future.

Last year we worked through R&S Math 2. We started in Singapore 2, and there were lots of tears. I started him out too early in Singapore. He did the 1st grade book in K, and then I found that in 1st that he wasn't developmentally ready for the 2nd grade book. I still really love Singapore, but decided to sell my set. I was afraid if I didn't sell it that it wouldn't be worth anything because it was being aligned with Common Core. I decided to instead go with Christian Light Math. It's a nice combination of traditional and conceptual math. It has a ton of built in review which I always felt was lacking in Singapore. I had really sold myself on the idea of master math being the best, but it turns out my kids really do better with something more spiral. We worked through one of the CLE math light units, and I think it is going to be a great fit. We worked through some of Right Start Math B in K. We got about 3/4 of the way through. Silas always asks me if we could finish it, so this summer we went through almost the end. We will complete a lesson a day on Friday until we have completed the book. We will add in Life of Fred a few days a week for fun, as well as a few Miquon sheets.

Silas will join his brother for English From the Roots Up. I don't want to do a full blown Latin program, so this will be a nice place to start. We will study 3 roots per week. We dumped this after about 3 weeks. Just too much for my little guy.

These are extras that we will fit in if we have time. Beyond has an art project each week, but no drawing instruction. I Can Do All Things art is a nice beginner drawing book that doesn't require much time. Silas worked through part of this book last year, and really enjoyed it. I will have him continue penmanship, and cursive in the Pentime 2 Transition book. There is very little geography in Beyond, so I added in these fun geography workbooks. I found the Abeka health book for a buck at a used sale. I'll try to read through it once a week.

We love The Nature Connection. When we didn't do nature study, the kids were after me. I love that we have a light Friday this year, so it will be so much easier to have the time to do it. This book makes nature study accessible. I love the author's books for adults as well.

Phew! Well, I think I might disappear now for a few weeks to enjoy the last few weeks of summer. We start up in less than 3 weeks! I can't believe how fast this summer has flown by. I look forward to sharing our journey this year :)


  1. Your second grade choices look so good. I'm still trying to figure out which way to go with mine.. eek. I have debated over using Beyond for a year.. I am a little worried about the history being focused on the pilgrims for so long.. I know thats probably silly.. Also, I really appreciated what you said about the book choices.. another thing that has really held me back from HOD was I thought the book choices looked a little boring. It was nice to hear that you were pleasantly surprised. The more I look at HOD the more impressed I am.. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. I really struggled to finally make the decision to use Beyond, so I totally understand where you're coming from. I expected too much of my little guy for the last 2 years, so I'm really looking forward to letting him work at his level this year. My boys have really loved so many of HOD book choices. Some they still talk about, and asked me to order copies since I sold them. I think maybe only one out of all we read last year wasn't a hit.

  3. I pray that your 1st day of school has been a blessing!

  4. Hello! Are you gearing up for Preparing Hearts with your little one this year? My youngest will be going through PHFHG, which was handed down from my older child. I have a few tips, if you'd like them.
    For vocabulary, we use the vocabulary sheets described on the J and M Ranch blog page (for another curriculum). There is a link to the vocabulary sheets on the blog page. In addition to writing the word in the center space, I have them write the word in what would be the top right corner when the page is turned to fit in a notebook. By using a one-word-per-page form, I can then have my daughter place them in her binder in alphabetical order, thereby getting practice in that skill.
    Another tip I have is to use quarter sheets of cardstock instead of small index cards for the timeline (larger index cards would work well, too). The larger space for drawing and writing was much needed. Instead of mounting the timeline to the wall as a step-timeline, we chose to tape each one to the next, accordion-style, as described in the guide. My older daughter LOVED opening the whole timeline each time she made an addition to it and watching it "grow". For storage, she chose a simple zippered pencil pouch to fit in the front of her notebook. It worked great!

  5. I could comment on pretty much everything you've taken the time to share on your blog. It's so obvious that so much care, and wisdom goes into all that you've chosen for your children. I can not thank you enough for taking the time to put it all out here for so many of us to glean from I pray the Lord continues to bless your and your family greatly. You have been such a wonderful blessing to this mama. Huggs, SK. (:

    1. Ok, that's just the sweetest comment ever. Thank you SO much! It is a joy to share, and it makes it so much more worth it knowing it has helped others :)


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