Grade II Thematic Study: The Charles River
The Grade II curriculum is constructed to meet the wide range of needs, knowledge, experiences, learning rates, and styles possessed by our students. We hope to foster skills and values which will serve children their entire lives: a love for learning, an openness to new experiences, a sense of confidence, a feeling of independence, and a respect for others. A primary goal in second grade is to establish a community of learners in which children learn from one another as well as their teachers. Teachers aim to help children achieve a greater sense and appreciation of who they are as individuals and as members within a community. Through this exploration children become aware of shared commonalities and unique differences.
Language Arts in Grade II
Speaking, reading, listening, and writing skills grow with language development. Mastery of language is a continuum that extends over a number of years and happens for children at different ages depending on their maturation, experience, and language background. Seven- and eight-year-olds vary in their rates of language development. The reading and writing curriculum adapts to individual needs that range from early reading to relatively advanced comprehension and vocabulary.
Mathematics In Grade II
The goal of the mathematics program in the Grade II, and across grade levels in the Lower School, is to help children construct their own mathematical knowledge. Through meaningful learning experiences in which they solve problems, reason about their mathematical thinking, and communicate their ideas in written and oral form, children make connections between mathematical ideas and real-life experiences. We encourage children’s interest in mathematics while building their confidence and strengthening their skills.
Science In Grade II
Beginning in 2016-17, students travel to the new lower school science lab two times per cycle, but there is also science learning centered in the gradehead classroom. Activities and projects encourage the students to explore and experiment. Lessons serve to introduce new ideas, materials, and procedures, and to provide opportunities to ask questions, set up experiments, solve problems, analyze data, and make inferences. Central to our work is learning how to communicate our ideas effectively through discussions, drawing, and writing. Projects and activities are rooted in the Thematic Study of the Charles River, and include: river formation, soil erosion, properties of water, bridges and dams, simple machines, engineering river vehicles, and studies of the fish and animals that live in and around the river.
Art In Grade II
Children engage in different art projects in their classrooms using a wide variety of media. Students work with tempera paints, watercolors, collage materials, and many other media. Students learn and practice different artistic techniques. The various thematic studies and the children’s immediate experiences in the classroom often become the subject matter for much of their work. Through hands-on art experiences and beginning critiques of artist work, classroom teachers help children develop a passion for and respect for art.
Library In Grade II
(One 45-minute class per cycle.)
In the library, second graders spend their time listening to and talking about a variety of stories on a single theme or genre. An emphasis is placed on learning about types of fiction and non-fiction, including biography and historical fiction. Students continue developing their identities as readers as they select books for independent reading, listen to librarian book talks, and share suggestions with peers. Students participate in a biography unit and an edangered animal unit. Through exposure to a variety of different books, students learn to use the library and develop a love of reading.
Movement Education In Grade II
(Three 40-minute classes per cycle)
Building on our first grade program, second graders progress toward achieving mature form in more complex manipulative skills. Students continue to develop personal growth through exploration and repetition of basic motor skills including basic sports skills; this helps them learn the value of working hard and giving a full effort. As second graders mature cognitively, they identify and perform movement concepts like spatial awareness, effort, and relationships to changing conditions and expectations. We also continue our focus on nutrition and fitness in the second grade, with activities like Fitness Night. From there, we build upon students’ knowledge of the components of health-related fitness (e.g., cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility). Students develop and practice sportsmanship and learn what it means to be a gracious winner and loser.
Music & Performing Arts In Grade II
(Two 40-minute classes per cycle)
Second grade students will continue their exploration of and immersion in a wide variety of musical experiences including singing, dancing, listening and playing age-appropriate rhythm instruments, among many others. Students will continue to be exposed to the tremendous cultural diversity in music, learning more songs in different languages and listening to selections from different cultures. As the year progresses students will become familiar and comfortable with such musical concepts and terms as strong/weak, crescendo/diminuendo, duple/triple meter, ostinato, etc. For several weeks in the winter students will participate in acting out Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev with costumes, props, and musical accompaniment. As in the other grades, repertoire is prepared for once-per-cycle Lower School assemblies as well as holidays and special events including Thanksgiving, Winter Holiday, Black History, May Day, and Closing Day.
Woodshop in Grade II
(One 60-minute class per cycle for one trimester)
Second grade students come to the Woodshop in groups of 7 or 8, for a trimester. After thinking about design choices, each student arrives at an idea for a chair and draws a plan. They are introduced to principles of structure and strength. After being taught to use basic hand tools safely and effectively each child gets to work to build his/her own life-size chair. The students learn to use rudimentary measurement and to solve problems as they arise. They reap the benefits of working week after week on the same project. Students realize that a large project is made up of many small tasks. Second graders see how their ideas, once expressed on paper, are brought to life in three dimensions.
Lower School Community in Grade II
The entire Lower School (Beginners to Grade IV) meets together in the Assembly Hall from 8:35 to 9:15 Day 3. The music component of assemblies includes community singing, performances by Shady Hill students, and performances by outside musical groups. Music at the assembly extends the music curriculum and deepens students’ understanding of music as cultural expression. Classroom sharing is also an important aspect of assemblies. The emphasis is on sharing works-in-progress from all areas of the Lower School. Preparation for sharing is part of the learning process and sharing in front of a larger group in a safe, supportive environment helps children develop confidence in projecting their voices and effectively presenting their work. Sometimes assemblies are used for performances, such as class productions, Visiting Artist performances, or other outside performers or speakers. Outside presenters come from the arts, sciences, and humanities and make a connection to the wider world.