Curriculum Reviews

Our Curriculum Picks for 2nd Grade

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2nd Grade Curriculum Picks Title



All About Reading – This year we’ll pick up where we left off in AAR. I expect to finish AAR2 and get started with AAR3.


Handwriting Without Tears – Since we were late adopters of HWT, we’re going to finish up our 1st grade printing books before we move on to…

Zaner-Bosler– My daughter is itching to learn cursive, and my son wants to keep up with her. I’m sure there are those who would say 2nd grade is too early, but I think I’d be a fool not to jump on this motivated moment. Zaner-Bosler’s 2C book looks like a gentle transition into cursive, and after comparing it to other options that teach a bubbly style,  I think it produces a more pleasing penmanship. Of course, your mileage may vary.


I don’t use a writing curriculum. Instead, I’m making daily choices that support the three goals I have for this year:

I want to help my children…

  1. … maintain a positive attitude toward writing as a way to record their thoughts rather than as mundane busywork.
  2. … develop writing fluency.
  3. … learn basic writing conventions.

I pursue goal #1 by assisting them in writing their own stories. They like to make books from blank paper and staples, but they especially enjoy filling blank books such as these.

I also like to invite them to write and illustrate a few sentences on story paper a couple of times a week. They get to choose the topic. I find that using journals such as these helps to control the paper monster that plagues all homeschool households.

Blank books, story paper journals, and blank comic book pages help with goal #2 of developing writing fluency, but so does the copywork in Spelling You See, filling in the blanks in Daily Geography, labeling things in their nature journals, and writing out math equations.

As for goal #3, at this point I’ll just continue monitoring their writing to make sure they use appropriate capitalization and punctuation.


Spelling You See – As I said in my First Grade Report card, I love that Spelling You See is truly open-and-go. There are only so many subjects that this mama has the time or mental space to plan. The kids are learning and generally enjoy it, so it’s a win all around. We’ll be finishing up Jack & Jill before moving on to Level C.


Shiller Math – We have the fractions kit, the last section of Book 2, and all of Book 3 from Kit 1 ahead of us this year. I like Shiller’s Montessori approach, especially for the younger grades. Last year I made the mistake of trying to plan too far ahead with Shiller, which meant that I found myself (unnecessarily) stressing a little when more review was need than I had allotted for. This year I’m going to force my plan-loving self to simmer down and roll with the punches. Instead of writing down the lessons I plan to cover each day, I’ll keep a week-to-week general plan in my bullet journal. I’m also planning to make my copies for the ENTIRE YEAR this summer, which will help me control some of my planning anxiety and enjoy math more this year.

Mathseeds – We signed up for Mathseeds to help with summer review, so we’ll continue using our subscription for those days when Mom is feeling under the weather or we just can’t even.


Classes at Our Local Science Museum

Usborne Book of Science Activities – I’ve never met a kid who doesn’t love science experiments, but my problem with most experiment books is that they don’t do a very good job of explaining the science behind the experiment, and the whole thing ends up being treated as a magic show of sorts. I like that the Usborne books do a good job of explaining what’s going on and why it’s happening.

Exploring Nature with Children – Nature, particularly all things insect, is my son’s great area of interest. He might just grow up to be an entomologist. I found this curriculum by happy accident on Facebook, and we’ve already started lessons with it this week. Yes, we’re still on “summer break,” but isn’t that the beauty of pursuing our kids’ interests – that that time feels more like play to them than work? ENWC takes a multi-disciplinary approach, incorporating art and literature that complements the week’s nature theme. It’s also multi-sensory with extension activities such as cooking a recipe with honey for honeybee study. (Click here to go to the Exploring Nature with Children website.)

Handbook of Nature Study

Exploring Nature with Children lists page numbers from this classic nature study book to be used as references for each weekly theme. It isn’t necessary to have this book to use Exploring Nature with Children or to enjoy nature study, but it’s nice to have on hand, especially for mamas like me who were indoorsy before having nature-loving children.


Nature Journals – Any sketchbook will do as a nature journal. We like to sketch with pencil “in the field” and then color in with our desired media at home. Here’s my daughter’s sketch of a worker bee from our nature walk yesterday. “The eyelashes are how you can tell that worker bees are girls.” I can’t wait to see how neat it will look with watercolors.

Bee Nature Journal


Daily Geography – I’m looking forward to Daily Geography as another open-and-go curriculum that can add some ease to my day. At this point, I plan to do brief daily lessons as written, but looking through the book, I can see how it could also work as longer lessons one or two days a week.

The States – It seems like it would be more fun to learn about the states in a co-op setting, and a homeschooling friend at another co-op has had great success with her children doing just that, so I’m planning to pull together a Nifty Fifty class for the spring. I’ve got a Pinterest board started here, but if you have some favorite resources to share, I would LOVE for you to tell me about them in the comments section.


After learning about ancient civilizations last year, I’m ready to move on to some early American history this year. I plan to use these resources as a base point, filling in with library books as we go.

History Pockets – Native Americans

History Pockets – Life in Plymouth Colony

The Prairie Primer – Unit studies for the Little House on the Prairie books designed for homeschoolers? YES!!!

Little House on the Prairie Book Set

Little House on the Prairie Season 1

Liberty’s Kids DVD


Artistic Pursuits – Both of my children are fiendish creators of art, and my daughter has what, at least in my biased opinion, seems to be real creative talent. I won’t be surprised at all if she chooses to pursue an art-related field like graphic design. She has surpassed what I can teach her, so it’s time to move onto an art curriculum. Artistic Pursuits has an art history element that teaches viewing and response skills, and each lesson also has a creation component that emphasizes different concepts, skills, and materials.

I love to talk curriculum! If you have any questions, or if you have some history read-aloud suggestions or resources you’d recommend for my Nifty Fifty class, please share in the comments!

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