It is that time of the year where I look back over our school year and see what worked and what didn’t work. Where we made progress, what subjects fell off the schedule at some point during the school year and what we want to change for next school year! Here I share it all with you to help you make informed decisions about the curriculum you choose.
My youngest son did a second year of second grade this year. (Here were our plans for this year of 2nd grade.) His learning challenges present a unique challenge to me and I am often analyzing through the school year what is working and how better to teach him. Here is how this year went in regards to our actual curriculum.
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2nd Grade Math
Math continues to be Little Fish’s most challenging area! We continue to feel RightStart Math is the best program for him, but we did hit a wall with it about 2/3 of the way through the book and backed up some to make sure earlier skills were really solid. Right now we are playing lots of games to develop early number sense before we move much further. RightStart includes a whole book of games so we are using some of those and some other common number sense games. His favorite is war and we use this to practice subitizing and addition and subtraction.
If you want to learn more about number sense, our article Developing Number Sense in Your Children has lots of information that I continue to update the more I learn!
If you are interested in the RightStart math curriculum and want to see where you should start, their placement test is very helpful. Note, Level B is more aligned with 1st grade.
2nd Grade Spelling
This was our fifth year of using this curriculum in our family. I am happy to say that this is a subject area where Little Fish really took off this year! It had taken him a LONG time to get through Level 1, but he worked through Level 2 at a more normal pace and is already about 10 lessons into Level 3. We will continue to work with this throughout the summer since it only requires a 20ish minute lesson once a week and then 5 minute lessons the rest of the days of the week.
This curriculum is great because it targets the phonics of spelling (his strength), the visual memory of words (his challenge area), and the rules of spelling. This way it taps into his strength, but also builds up his weak areas. To help place your child at a particular level read All About Learning Placement.
2nd Grade Reading
Little Fish had finished the last level of his formal reading curriculum, All About Reading, the first week of school. He spent most of the school year reading Magic Tree House books, especially about our history topics, and telling me about each chapter. This eventually became a bit too easy for him so he started reading James and the Giant Peach over the last several weeks and completing structured reading comprehension, descriptive language, and vocabulary activities associated with it. He has liked this challenge and we will continue with other Roald Dahl books in this same way next year. You can learn more about how we study vocabulary here: Five Tips for Teaching Vocabulary in Children’s Literature.
If you would like a list of Magic Tree House books organized by historical time periods, check out Teaching History with Magic Tree House Books. (It also contains some easy extension activities!)
2nd Grade Grammar
This year we targeted grammar during literature and writing. For the first half of the school year, we practiced grammar notebooking as we read our Magic Tree House books. You can learn more here about grammar notebooking and download the notebooking pages for free.
The second half of the year, we started a structured writing program and talked about grammar while we wrote. Now, our grammar study is included in our formal vocabulary study with James and the Giant Peach. We are using our James and the Giant Peach Word Detective Vocabulary Unit for this.
2nd Grade Writing
We took a break from a structured writing program at the beginning of the school year because Little Fish really needed to focus on his spelling and his use of capitalization and punctuation. Once a week, we picked a topic and then he verbally told me three facts about the topic. Then, we came up with a good introductory sentence and a conclusion to create a basic five sentence paragraph. Later in the week, he then copied these sentences into a paragraph.
He progressed well with this, so later in the year, we started Writeshop Level C, which I had left over from his brother. Little Fish is enjoying this writing program because it has fun, creative projects mixed in. (We skipped many of these with his brother because he just wasn’t into them!) For example, after completing your writing project for a unit you may then make a kite to glue your writing onto and display. It also uses a variety of graphic organizers to help us organize his thoughts before he writes.
2nd Grade Spanish
I suggested taking a year off from a foreign language this year because this has always been a difficult area for Little Fish, but he insisted he wanted to continue to learn Spanish. He watched the Salsa videos from Georgia Public TV for a few months and then we followed up with related children’s books in Spanish. However, he became frustrated and bored trying to listen to the books in Spanish. He enjoyed the videos, but lost interest in actually learning the Spanish so we discontinued our Spanish study. I am not planning on resuming the study of a foreign language until middle school for him!
2nd Grade Geography
Geography is a challenging subject for Little Fish due to his visual processing challenges and frankly, his lack of interest! When he is interested in a topic, he is all in, but if he does not have interest…forget about it! Our “main accomplishment” for the year was we completed a Map Skills workbook. This was a good experience for him and worked on his visualization skills.
We also worked with maps as part of his history curriculum below and had “geography talks” where we would look at the globe together and talk about whatever he wanted. He became most interested when we talked about where different animals lived.
There were a few subjects that we did as a group this year with both boys.
Little Fish enjoyed history depending on the topic. If there were knights, castles or warriors involved, he was all in! With Story of My World, the boys colored related coloring pages while I read. The information is presented in a story format as much as possible, which was good for Little Fish. The teacher’s manual provides comprehension questions for each section so that made my job easy! It also provides lots of other books one can get on the subject, which I sometimes got at the library depending how interested the boys were in the subject. We occasionally completed the art and craft activities in the teacher’s manual. This is a great program for families that want hands on activities as well as those who prefer to not spend a lot of time on hands on activities.
We finished our Chemistry curriculum half way through the year. Little Fish enjoyed it, especially the hands on experiments! He did not enjoy completing the lab sheets as much, but as his reading and writing skills developed through the year, these became easier for him. The lessons were fairly short and information was presented in a fun way.
After we finished chemistry, we started R.E.A.L.: Science Odyssey Physics. Originally, I was not planning to have Little Fish join us since it is geared toward 3rd-6th grades and the lab sheets in chemistry frustrated him. But, he has been interested in it and has joined us for all the lessons even though I am sure he is not fully understanding them. Once again, he likes the hands on activities! We still have several more units to go in this book and will spend the first part of our summer exploring simple machines!
If you want to learn more about our chemistry lessons from last year, read: Can You Teach Homeschool Chemistry to Your Elementary Aged Children?
Art once again was hit or miss this year. It seems to be the first subject to go when bumps happen during the week. Little Fish’s favorite art activity was to watch videos from Art for Kids Hub and complete the drawings.
I also had him draw pictures as part of his reading comprehension activities to work on his visualization skills and he always enjoyed these activities.
Overall, the keys for Little Fish were focusing mostly on the core subjects and incorporating stories and hands on projects in as much as possible. If you are homeschooling a child with learning challenges, what do you find the keys are for your child?
I will be posting our plans for next year some time this summer!
If you are interested in seeing our curriculum choices from last year and how they worked out, check out:
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