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Second Grade

Second grade is an exciting year for students as they continue to develop as leaders and learners in the Primary School. As children practice being kind, fair, and responsible community members their skill sets as readers, writers, mathematicians, and historians continue to deepen and expand. Most notably, second grade students and families look forward to the end of the year when students are at long last formally inducted (now and forever!) on to the Green Team or the Gold Team at the annual Green & Gold Banquet in May. This time-honored tradition marks the beginning of their participation in the yearly Green & Gold Competitions, a hallmark of the student experience at Tuxedo Park School.

This and more make second grade a year that is marked by excitement, exploration, and new challenges encountered and surmounted. The seven- and eight-year-old's developmental progression is one of consolidation of skills across the board. During second grade we work with each child and his/her family to facilitate their growth academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. Seven- and eight-year-olds are:

* Driven by curiosity and excitement for learning.
* Developing skills of working productively both independently and collaboratively.
* Capable of doing their best work when there is one cognitive focus.
* Enjoying the routine and structure of school and prizing close relationships with teachers.
* Wanting their work to be perfect, and thus are in need of support and encouragement to persevere through challenges and struggles.
* Navigating developing, and sometimes fluctuating, friendships with peers.
* Experiencing heightened sensitivity to slights (real or perceived) from peers and their environment, necessitating their strong classroom community and practice with developing conflict resolution skills.
* Increasingly able to learn new skills/concepts and represent understanding without concrete manipulatives.
* Improving their ability to listen to and learn from others.

At the end of each week, families receive a newsletter, also posted on this page here, describing in words and pictures highlights from the week and forecasting the learning and activities that lie ahead . We encourage families to contact us early and often with questions.

At Tuxedo Park School we have high standards for excellence in three key categories: learning (acquiring knowledge and skills), doing (communicating and acting on learning), and caring (working alongside and with others to improve own learning and that of classmates). We look forward to communicating and celebrating the breadth and depth of learning, doing, and caring your child will enjoy in Grade 2 this year!

English Language Arts

The second grade language arts program includes elements of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. These components are integrated into the child’s day and form a pattern for learning.

Class literature:
The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, Dahl 

Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing, Blume
A Bear Called Paddington, Bond 

The Borrowers, Norton
The Velveteen Rabbit, Williams 

Key to the Treasure, Parrish
Who Stole the Wizard of Oz?, Avi 

Cam Jansen, Adler

Texts and Resources: 
Phonics Lessons Teaching Resources, Fountas and Pinnell
Word Matters, Fountas and Pinnell
Benchmark Assessments, Fountas and Pinnell
D’Nealian Handwriting, Book 2
D’Nealian Cursive Writing Workbook
SRA Spelling: Developing the ABC’s of Success, Roser and Wallace Gillet
Phonics Lessons Teaching Resources, Fountas and Pinnell
The Art of Teaching Writing, Lucy Calkins
Units of Study for Primary Writing: A Yearlong Curriculum, Lucy Calkins


Second grade writing workshop is structured to help students grow as writers. Research by Lucy Calkins provides the philosophical basis for the class. Teaching writing begins with the recognition that children come to writing workshop with concerns, ideas, memories, and feelings. They write about what is alive, vital, and real for them. Their writing is experiential and, in a sense, these experiences become the workshop’s curriculum. Through the study of children’s literature and poetry, students are exposed to a variety of writing strategies such as rhyming, simile, and alliteration. The result is a rich assortment of writing reflecting each child’s unique voice.

As they write, students continue to learn and build upon writing conventions begun in first grade, such as punctuation, capitalization, and paragraph formation. The children use these conventions in their personal narratives, and when writing in their other classes.

Children save what they write in their writing journals and decide which pieces to publish. Before publication takes place, students edit their own work, focusing on clarity and organization. Next, each student meets with a teacher in a writing conference to determine additional ways to improve the writing piece. After this meeting, the student is ready to compose the final draft. These published pieces are compiled into the second grade literary magazines and are often shared orally with the class or displayed in the classroom. They are always saved by the teacher. 


Spelling is a part of all writing, phonics, and reading classes. Good spelling skills are stressed through an understanding of syllabication rules, initial and ending word blends, and word families. Children learn to apply these rules and related phonics rules as they write and read on their own. Students work with pattern-based word lists, including simple sight-sound patterns as well as structural and meaning-based patterns. The goal of the spelling program is to help students transition from phonetic, to transitional, to derivational spelling. As the students become stronger spellers, they become responsible for consistently spelling “no excuse words” correctly. Weekly spelling lists also provide students with a useful opportunity to learn study skills. These skills form a foundation for the more complex study skills the students will learn as they progress in school. 


In second grade, children review manuscript and learn to write in cursive. They learn each cursive letter form individually in lessons which stress proper pencil grip, posture, and paper slant.



Second grade students use the Primary Mathematics series; also know as “Singapore Math”. This program relies upon a concrete, pictorial, and abstract approach. Students first work with a concrete experience, often using tangible materials. Students are then exposed to a pictorial representation of the mathematical concept they are learning. When the teacher is secure the students understand the concept, more abstract numbers, notations, and symbols are introduced. 

Students start the year solidifying their understanding of place value within whole numbers. They begin by counting, reading, and writing whole numbers to the hundreds place. To enhance their understanding of place value, students use place value models called number discs to represent numbers. Number discs are round discs with 1, 10, or 100 written on them. To build the number 237, students would place 2 hundred discs, 3 tens discs, and 7 ones discs on their place value mat. Once they are proficient building numbers with number discs, students identify place values of digits and begin to write three digit numbers in expanded form. They also compare and order numbers within 1,000. 

Students review the part-whole concepts of addition and subtraction and practice using addition to find a whole and subtraction to find a part. Mental math addition and subtraction strategies are reviewed in which students are encouraged to decompose the tens and ones in two-digit numbers. Students are eventually transitioned away from working with two-digit numbers in a horizontal format to using a standard vertical algorithm for addition and subtraction for numbers up to three digits. As students become more proficient using the algorithm, mental math strategies are still practiced. Flexibility with numbers indicates good understanding of place value and number sense. 

Students develop an understanding of multiplication and division. Their initial experiences with multiplication and division emphasize the understanding of the operation, not on memorizing the facts. They use repeated addition, pictures, arrays, and counters to represent different multiplication and division scenarios. When exploring division, two different types of problems are introduced, sharing (find the number of objects in each group) and grouping (find the number of groups made). Once conceptual understanding of the operations is evident, students begin to study and commit multiplication facts to memory. In second grade they learn multiplication and division facts for 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, and 10s. Students end the year by practicing division with remainders. Through real life contexts, students learn whole numbers are not always divisible by a smaller number, and often remainders are left. 

Second graders spend the remainder of the year studying money, fractions, time, and geometry. In the money unit, they count combinations of bills and coins to $10.00, use decimal notation for money, and add and subtract money within $10.00. Students continue to recognize halves and fourths as well as write and illustrate fractions of a whole with denominators up to 12. They learn to tell time to the minute and find the duration of time intervals. 

Social Studies

The second grade social studies curriculum focuses on community and early American history. Early in the year, students use social studies time to help develop our classroom community. They work together to become a caring unit and establish rules which help to govern the classroom.

Next, students learn about the communities that existed in Colonial America. Students learn about the roles, responsibilities, and jobs that existed during this time and study the ways geography impacted community formations. They also begin to examine events that lead up to the American Revolution. 

The study of the 13 Colonies leads directly into our Culture Study. In recent years, second graders have focused on one of the following countries during the months of November and December:

  • India
  • England
  • Bahamas

After returning from winter break, students will study the American Revolution. They look at the ways new communities formed during this difficult time. Students compare and contrast Loyalist and Patriot views, and chronicle the events that preceded American independence. Key historical figures such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Deborah Sampson are studied. 

During the spring, the second graders study the formation of the United States and learn about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the structure of the government, and formation and importance of the District of Columbia. Second graders also examine their roles, rights, and responsibilities as members of the “American Community.”


Second grade science continues to build on the process skills learned in previous grades. Emphasis is placed on predicting, observing, measuring, and drawing conclusions. Students are stretched to look beyond Earth with yearlong connections to astronomy and basic biologic and geologic cycles. The opening unit’s exploration of the Earth/Sun/Moon system encourages students to explore the causes of day and night, the phases of the moon, and the apparent motion of the sun and moon in the sky.

The energy from the sun then becomes the driving force in the next unit of study: properties of water. While exploring the water cycle, students acquaint themselves with water as a solid, liquid, and gas. Students explore the properties of water, learning about surface tension, capillary action, adhesion, and cohesion. This unit culminates in an in-depth exploration of water quality, for which students analyze the content of their own drinking water. Students present the results of their investigations at their science celebration.

Following winter break, the class begins to study simple machines, building and testing levers, wheels and axles, and inclined planes. This exploration of physics continues as the class discusses force and motion and, ultimately, distinguishes between simple and complex machines.

Explorations with energy as waves producing sound and light is the next unit. The emphasis is on vibrations, pitch, and volume. The music teachers visit the class to present how these terms apply to vocal and instrumental music.

Come spring, students study plants and what they need to grow. Explorations with a light box explain geotropism and phototropism. Introducing photosynthesis as a way that plants use the sun’s energy to make their own food establishes the knowledge that plants are the base for food webs. Students also investigate different types of seeds and discover how they are scattered. On Earth Day, students plant seeds and seedlings in cold frames for the school garden.

Following the life cycle of plants, students observe the life cycles of frogs from egg, to tadpole, to adult frog. The year culminates with students’ reviewing the cycles that they have observed all year. 


Second Grade French builds upon the previous year’s program. Students continue to use general French directives and conversational phrases, and they learn new ones; for example, students learn to talk about age, birthdays, weather, and the seasons. Other specific topics include classroom objects, family members, the house, and clothing. During this year, students develop word recognition and are able to complete simple written assignments. Also this year, students discuss the gender of nouns and learn to use the definite and indefinite articles. In the spring, the French class works on a presentation connected to their science curriculum. 


Second grade student projects are often prompted by classroom curriculum, holidays, or the work of well-known artists both historic and contemporary. Students use their observational and imaginative skills for projects in many mediums, including drawing, painting, collage, papier mâché, stitched fabrics, cardboard, and clay to produce images and objects. Recent projects have included:

  • a tissue paper collage based on the work of Paul Cezanne;
  • a ceramic owl based on the pottery owls of Pablo Picasso;
  • a three-dimensional painting based on The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Grant Wood;
  • Chinese dragon costumes. 


Second grade students build on the first grade concepts. They continue to name rhythmic and melodic elements through the means of rhythm names and solfege as well as real note names. Second graders continue notating music on the 5-line staff as they create their own compositions. Second graders explore double and triple meter and experience the “feel” of these meters through Dalcroze Eurhythmics, games, and dances.

Vocal development continues to be the major focus, as students continue to learn to match pitch, sing in tune, and explore a wide vocal range while singing. In addition, the class continues to learn music history through storytelling. At the end of each class, the music teacher tells stories of composers and musicians in ten minute installments. Once the students are acquainted with individual composers, they are more eager to listen to and learn about their music. Students sing music of early America in connection with their social studies curriculum. Moreover, students explore ethnic music throughout the year and perform it as part of their Culture Study. Grandparents’ Day and the spring concert provide opportunities for students to experience the performance aspect of music. 

Physical Education

In the second grade, the basic eye-hand and eye-foot movements mastered in the first grade are expanded upon. Dribbling the ball with a dominant hand, trapping a ball with the foot, striking a moving object, and demonstrating passing skills are developed through lead-up games. Lifelong activities such as climbing, jumping rope, and running are introduced. The students continue to move safely and effectively through space with the addition of weight bearing on their hands and learning to fall safely. Increases in the student’s own awareness of their fitness occur with an additional emphasis on taking one’s heart rate and learning major muscle groups. The students also monitor their activity levels during class with the use of pedometers. Managing conflicts appropriately, behaving in a manner that does not disturb others, and continuing to try despite frustrations are themes throughout the year.