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Second Grade

The children make a great leap from first to second grade—perhaps one of the biggest leaps in their school career.

Writing, which was virtually an extension of drawing in Grade One, now stands on its own; numbers, whose qualitative aspect was stressed last year, now are recognized as quantities, extending in space and time. And the world of Fairy Tales, although not completely absent, now makes way for the Lives of the Saints—biographies of men and women with a historical verity—and fables.

If the circle is a picture of first grade, all whole and unified, each part sustaining the rest, the second grade may be seen as two parallel lines. The child is no longer carried by the dreamy sense of security in all that encircles them, but begins to experience a delicate quality of “apartness,” of “identity.” At this age, criticalness may suddenly appear, along with a tendency to squabble endlessly, or feel persecuted by “everybody,” bereft of friends. The Fables point out the foibles suddenly appearing all over; the Saints’ legends calm, console and reassure.

Second Grade Curriculum

Rhythm of the Day

Each day begins with Main Lesson. The main subjects, such as history, language arts, science and mathematics are taught in blocks of 2 hours per day, with each block lasting from 3 to 6 or even 8 weeks long.

For the second grader, approximately one-third of the morning lesson time is used in movement, flute, speech and singing work; all four interwoven into the morning circle time. Movements can include rhythmic arithmetic patterns stepped, stomped or clapped; hand clapping games; dances; rope jumping and memory concentration exercises. These movements help bring balance into the morning and work with integrating developmental movements into the children’s day. Usually there is at least one piece that is being used as a recitation piece in the morning circle. These are sometimes used for basic pronunciation skills or are related to the seasons.

After Main Lesson the children have a hearty snack (brought from home) and time to play outdoors.

The afternoon consists of subject classes including handwork, movement, french, music and art, as well as lunch (brought from home) and more time to play outdoors.

Arithmetic in second grade begins with a recapitulation of first-grade material including the quality of numbers, basic number relationships and introductory math facts. This includes a full review of the four basic processes: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Material is presented with story, imagination, manipulatives and concretely through movement. The reciprocal nature of addition and subtraction are generally introduced first followed by multiplication and division. This work can move into carrying and borrowing with addition and subtraction. Long multiplication and division may be hinted at but are not formally worked within this grade. Place value, mental math, and the quality of the times tables through 12 x 12 are introduced.


Reading moves forward again from the first-grade curriculum beginning with reading from what is written. The children learn to read from their own handwriting and the teacher’s. Sight words are introduced, and there is a special emphasis on the nature and quality of vowel sounds as well as phonics, blends and diphthongs. There is an emphasis on choral reading. Reading progresses initially from reading poems, verses and songs that have been learned by rote. Words and short stories are introduced, allowing the children to begin decoding the English language. As the children are always making their own lesson books, there is a consistent reinforcement of the connection between the written and the spoken word. Often there are reading groups during the year. These can be led by volunteers or by older students working with one or two other children.


Writing, as is described in the previous paragraph, is a component of all of the morning lesson blocks. Printed lowercase letters are introduced. Spelling is based upon word families, sight words and words derived from the morning lesson. Initially, most of the work in the morning lesson books is composed by the teacher, but as the year progresses it is possible to introduce independent composition based upon the lessons of the week. Writing is also integrated into the other main lesson blocks.

During first and second grade the children are told a series of detailed nature stories that embody the science that they will later be directly exposed to. These nature stories are vivid, illustrative pictures of the processes of plants, animals and the natural world. Science in the second grade is based primarily upon observation of nature. The students are encouraged to notice the change in the seasons, in the earth, plants and the weather.

History in second grade is qualitative in that the references in the Saint stories imply a historical time period, but there is no formal history introduced. The celebration of festivals and cycles of seasons lays the groundwork for anticipation of future, and appreciation for past events.

The second graders use pentatonic flutes. After the basic technique is mastered, the songs played can be songs that are currently being sung in the daily morning circle. The songs played and sung are often seasonal songs that relate to festivals and holidays. Usually there is at least one piece that is being used as a recitation piece in the morning circle.

One day a week is a designated double period for painting. Painting employs a wet-on-wet watercolor technique. This creates a medium for discovering the qualities of the primary colors. The nature of the movement of colors is found experientially. The secondary colors are derived by this technique. The students are introduced to various techniques, compositions and themes based upon morning lesson work or color studies. Each painting is introduced with a color story, which takes the students through an imaginative journey in preparation for their painting. Form is derived secondarily from the color work. This work is preparing them for one aspect of physics when the nature of light and color are formally introduced, as they will have already had a direct experience with these qualities since first or second grade. All aspects of the curriculum and subject classes are imbued with art. There is an artistic element in all of the lesson books. This can include borders, layout, illustrations and lettering. Although there is not a formal “drawing” class, art is an integral part of the overall teaching, and it allows the students to express the formal lessons in an artistic and creative manner.

Form drawing is an integral part of the second grade. Form drawing can be taught in a block and/or as an ongoing class throughout the year. Basic forms are mirror, running, transforming and completion forms. Each of these forms has a distinct challenge that helps in the integration of the students in their development.

Second grade has one major play that is performed for the parents and sometimes for the school. The play is written or chosen by the teacher and is related to the stories of the year. Many of the teachers pick a Saint story for their play, although fables or other stories can be used at the class teacher’s discretion. The plays are learned orally by the whole class and generally are performed choral style.