Second Grade Plans

07 Jul

We’re officially finished with first grade. We’ll have a few weeks off, then have a few weeks of light summer school, working on reading, math facts, pre-history, science, and a little handwriting. That sounds like a lot when I type it out, but we won’t do everything every day and it will be very relaxed.

My thoughts have now turned to second grade. I’ve been doing lots of planning, sorting, and arranging. Out with the old and in with the new. πŸ™‚

Second grade sees the addition of a few subjects. Here’s what we’ve got lined up:


For a gentle and fun (and inexpensive) introduction to Latin, we’ll be using Minimus. Now, I believe in parts-to-whole learning, but looking back on phonics instruction, I know that kind of learning can be a bit boring, especially in the early days.Β  I want this first year of Latin to be fun and engaging; I’m not terribly fussed if Esa doesn’t walk away being able to read Cattus Petasatus after this first year. Minimus is whole-to-parts and quite lively. I think it will be much enjoyed.


Last year I purchased Writing with Ease. I didn’t purchase the workbook because I wanted to choose the copywork and narration selections myself and I also wanted to keep costs down. The result was that after a few weeks I stopped using it. I came back to it, but it got dropped again. It was too much work and I wasn’t sure I was “doing it right.” So for level 2, I’ve decided to purchase the workbook. I don’t think we need to begin at level 1; he’s done lots of copywork and narration, plus he’s gone through FLL level 1 which dovetails with WWE level 1, so we’ll dive in with level 2. I’m very excited about this for some reason…I’m not sure why. After all, it’s just a workbook and the WWE programme isn’t new to me…but there’s something about it…it feels weighty and substantial. We’re not in Kindergarten anymore, Toto.


In first grade we began using Sequential Spelling. I stopped this because although it was great and Esa was learning to spell, it was a little too much and since he wasn’t doing much writing apart from handwriting and copywork, I worried that he would forget what he’d learned. In second grade he’ll be doing more real writing (he’s currently writing a book called “Lego City Police Story”) and will have more writing assignments and I think spelling instruction will be beneficial.

Here’s what else we’ll be doing:


Phonics instruction is more or less completed. We’ll be reviewing things from time to time because although the point of phonics is to get them reading, I don’t want him to forget the rules. Why? Well, I was taught by phonics, but I’d forgotten many of the rules. Since teaching Esa, I’ve found some of those rules to be beneficial to me. I want him to know these rules because reading instruction never ends; even as an adult he’s going to come across words he doesn’t know, so having a good grasp of those rules will be helpful in his reading and his spelling.

He’s been reading a lot of Mr. Men books. These are fun, lively, and challening. We’ll continue with these for the time being. Mostly I’ll let him choose his reading material, but I will steer him clear of twaddle or too many easy selections and there may be times I assign him something to read. I want him to read a variety of things, including non-fiction, which he likes to read, anyway.


We’re currently in the middle of Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting Book B. We’ll plug away at this and move to Book C whenever he’s ready.

World History

We’ll be using Story of the World Volume 2: Middle Ages. I have the activity book, purchased as a download from the Peace Hill Press website. (Big mistake; they don’t allow you to save it to your computer and you’re limited in the number of times you can download it, so you have to print off all the 400+ pages…not very economical.) I also purchased the audiobook, which we’re very excited about.

British History

I was planning to do British history alongside world history, but I’ve decided not to do that. When we’ve worked through all four SOTW books, we’ll then spend a year or two working on British history, then we’ll do four years of world history again. The educational system works differently in the UK, so I probably won’t be homeschooling via the classical method all 12 years. During his last few years, he’ll be working on A-levels, which may not even include history, so we’ll probably only have two history rotations.


We’ll be continuing with First Language Lessons. To be honest, I wasn’t terribly impressed with level 1. Nouns went on for an eternity, but then pronouns and verbs were barely touched upon. And some of the lessons were, in my opinion, downright useless. I also didn’t like how the child was to learn the months (in order), but yet the poem which teaches how many days are in each month (what 6-year-old needs to know that, anyway?) gives the months out of order! We skipped that poem and I taught Esa the knuckles trick, so that if he does want to know how many days are in each month, he can work it out.Β  However, level 2 looks more promising, so we’ll keep using it.


We’re about 2/3 of the way finished with Artistic Pursuits book 1. This has been a nice curriculum, but not spectacular. Some of the lessons are better than others, and if you want a pick-up-and-go art programme, it’s fantastic. But because we do a lot of art, including art appreciation, this hasn’t been the must-have curriculum that I imagined it would be. However, I do think the upper levels will be more useful to us and we will continue using it. This is a book that I know I can sell on, so I don’t feel it’s a waste of money.


I’m not totally sure in which direction we’re headed with math. Second grade could see us adhering strictly to Singapore Math, we may use a little of it, we may use a different programme altogether, or we may just unschool math completely. I just don’t know. I’ll have a better idea of what the plan is come September. I don’t really like the idea of buying another curriculum. Math curricula is expensive and who knows whether it will be any better. There are some great things about Singapore:

  1. It truly has fostered Esa’s mental math abilities
  2. I like that you can skip around a bit; you don’t have to do everything in order
  3. It’s challenging and thorough

What I don’t like about it is that it’s a little boring. So, it’s one of those programmes that we will probably continue using, but we’ll supplement with other things, skip around, and take breaks from it.


We will continue using Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding. This is an amazing curriculum and is suitable for all, regardless of your views on evolution because it’s not covered in this programme. It is quite teacher-intensive, but since everything else I’m using is pick-up-and-go, I don’t mind. I think science needs to be this way, at least in the early years. Once Esa’s a bit older, he’ll be able to take on some of the responsibility of initiating science activities himself.

My only complaint with this programme is that it could do with a little fleshing out via literature. There are book recommendations, but they’re all non-fiction selections, not always the greatest, and our library doesn’t usually have them. I think reading about science (in fiction and non-fiction format) is a great way to cement and supplement the learning, and Esa loves science books. I know once his reading skills advance a little more he’s going to be clamoring for science materials to read.

I think it would also be nice if for each lesson there were some sort of outline to ensure certain key points were covered. It’s a little too fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants for my linking. I don’t want it scripted, I just want to make sure I cover all the bases. I do make notes for each lesson, but I still worry that I’ve left something out.

I also need to devote more time to Esa’s science instruction. We only do science one day a week, plus read a section from The Story of Science, but because this book is being read out of context, it’s not much of a supplement. We’re not getting any nature study in, which I feel guilty about. I just don’t know what to do. We go out, look at a few plants and bugs, and I just don’t know where else to go from there. There’s nowhere within walking distance that will provide more diversity. (I’m working on getting my UK driver’s license, which will broaden our horizons quite a bitΒ  more). I need to make more of an effort with this. And as I write this, I feel more determined to do so. It’s summer and we need to be out there exploring. I’d also like to start doing something about those nature journals.


We haven’t done a whole lot with this. Esa is learning a little food preparation and he helps out a fair bit with housework, but this winter I’m hoping to begin him with some easy sewing or cross stitch and maybe crochet. I tried him with some cross stitch several months ago, but he wasn’t quite ready for it.


We will continue with our composer study. Well, there isn’t much “study” involved. I choose a composer (usually whoever I’ve manged to pick up at the charity shop) and we listen when we feel like it. Esa likes classical music, so I count this area of our homeschooling as a success.


This tapered off a little at the end of first grade. We were using this set of discussion starters, but this died out.Β  We were studying Kandinsky and our library only had a few books on him, none of which contained the paintings I wanted to study. I allowed Esa to choose most of the paintings, but I did choose one or two, including a watercolour. πŸ™‚

I’m hoping get back to our discussions, and I’d like to study a few watercolourists, including J.M.W. Turner.


Although we faithfully memorised several poems (I say “we” because when you’re child is memorising a poem, you can’t help but memorise it yourself!), the reading of poetry for fun waned. I want to revive this. It’s just laziness on my part, really. (“It’s almost time for lunch…we don’t have time for poetry now.” Etc.)

Our days will take longer, I can see that. I don’t think it’s going to be realistic to expect to finish before lunch. I think we may do 2 hours before lunch, and 2 hours after. Four hours is a lot, but we will have little breaks here and there. (“I need to put the clothes in the dryer, let’s have a little break” and so on.) And breaking it up like that will hopefully allow us to get a good balance of quantity and quality; I want to take our time with things and not rush, but I also want to get it all in…or most of it, anyway. I always feel guilty when I rush things and I learned to cut out certain things and goΒ  more slowly rather than rush through everything. This is partly why nature study and poetry often get missed out. But I need to make more of an effort to include these things.

We will begin second grade on….er, sometime in September.


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16 responses to “Second Grade Plans

  1. Umm Fatimah

    July 7, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Asalaamu alaykum sis,

    Masha’Allah you seem to have most of it planned for next year. We are using similar curricula in some areas. I too found FLL1 to be quite redundant, we went through it rather quickly, and are planning to do the same for FLL2 Insha’Allah. We recently started WWE2 which is a bit of a leap from level 1, but in a good way Masha’Allah as it requires more from the student. We were starting to bore from level 1 after a while so I guess the change is welcome. Ive recently gone through a check list for our summer plans, Im hoping to do catch up Insha’Allah. Pop over and tell me what you think, would be nice to hear from you…

  2. Neo

    July 7, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Looks like a well thought-out plan! πŸ™‚

    We’re using basically the same approach (CM + WTM) and very similar books to yours. It’s exciting to see your plans. I should get my plan polished and posted soon!

  3. Elsie Hickey Wilson

    July 8, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Hi, Michelle and Esa,
    Oh, I’m always excited to read about your adventures and education plans!
    Love those big, bright eyes, Esa, in photos!

    • whimsyway

      July 9, 2010 at 5:42 am

      Thanks, Elsie. πŸ™‚

  4. Subadra

    July 9, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Hi Michele,
    Sounds like a great plan and you seem to have well thought of things. I would also suggest that do some of the things outdoors, under a tree while picnicking…my kids loved doing some reading, learning and memorizing poems outdoors. It seemed to get done at a lesser amount of time too…

    Just a thought!
    good luck

    • whimsyway

      July 10, 2010 at 6:33 am

      Thanks, Subadra, that sounds like a good idea. πŸ™‚

  5. Maria

    July 13, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Hi, Michelle

    I’d like to ask you a question about SOTW. I’m thinking about buying it, the first volume, for my son, who is starting this year first grade. I thought it wold be interesting to have it as a pdf (it would be easier for me to translate into spanish), but i didn’t know what you have said about that you can’t download in the computer. Is it only with the activity book or also with the textbook?

    Thanks for your time.


    • whimsyway

      July 14, 2010 at 7:25 am

      Hi Maria, I’m not really sure. From what I can see on the Peace Hill Press website, the textbook isn’t available as a download.

      • Maria

        July 21, 2010 at 7:39 am

        Hi, Michelle

        I have written to Peace Hill Press and they say there is possible to download the archives in the computer and save them. There is a e-book version for SOTW 1, maybe is new.

        Thanks for your answer. 1kiss.

      • whimsyway

        July 22, 2010 at 5:36 am

        Thank you, Maria, I’ll try again to save it.

  6. Subadra

    July 14, 2010 at 12:55 am

    Hi Michele.
    I have awarded you the Beautiful Blogger award. You can collect it here at

    Thank you for sharing your homeschool journey and watercolor resources here on your blog


    • whimsyway

      July 14, 2010 at 7:27 am

      Wow, thanks Subadra! πŸ™‚

  7. Sheila

    July 14, 2010 at 5:20 am

    ACK! Where did that t-shirt come from? I LOVE that t-shirt! The kid inside it is cute too, but that T-SHIRT! Fabulous!

    • whimsyway

      July 14, 2010 at 7:22 am

      Thanks, Sheila. It’s from the Lego Land shop. (Did you notice the Monopoly hat on his head?) πŸ™‚ Hope your back’s feeling better.

  8. mylittlesoapbox

    July 18, 2010 at 2:44 am

    Michelle you should be able to save the download. I would email Peace Hill Press because I bought the download and have it saved to my computer. It would absolutely NOT be worth the money if I couldn’t save it!

    I’m just getting myself ready to finish my planning. We’re back but very sporadic at the moment. I’m taking a week already to regroup myself! LOL nothing like getting started only to restart after a week or two!

    • whimsyway

      July 19, 2010 at 7:42 am

      Thanks, Bobbi, I may do that. (I fixed your typo πŸ™‚ )


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