Intro to 2GRD

Classical Education is a totally different educational worldview. Truth, goodness, and beauty are facets of the same diamond; they condition us to love all that is wise and good, to love God.  Ugliness (like some modern art, music, and historical facts), however influential and “important” to the world, is irrelevant and counter-productive to Classical Education’s aims.

Many “Classical Curriculum” providers use classical education methods to fill the child’s mind with exhaustive “important, influential” ugly material. The children can parrot reams of misery. Good for them. MoDG preserves your child’s innocence about the ugliness of the world. It encourages you to form him in goodness, truth, and beauty. Once properly formed, he will have the right natural reaction to the ugliness of the world. And, he can memorize all those exhaustive ugly facts and artists in a weekend.

After taking the Primary Stage course from the school (highly recommended) I have added in my personal understanding of the “goals” for each subject in italics and parentheses. For actionable Do-Aheads for 2GRD, CLICK HERE.


  • LOTS of crafts.  Crochet, tissue paper flowers, 1st Communion stuff.  LOTS.  It’s fine motor central! (Doing something with ordered instructions is the goal. Replace crafts at will, as long as there are ordered instructions.)
  • There are more “Child Sized Masterpieces” this year or you can use the Second Grade Art book, which I much prefer. The cards are just too cumbersome.

Just remember that the point is for the child to really concentrate on the pictures and examine them at length.  Our curriculum calls it “close observation.”  Charlotte Mason calls it “really looking.” Whatever you call it, the names of the artists are much less important than the ability and facility with close observation.  That, and we want beauty to “do its work” on the child’s heart.

“We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture” (Mason, Vol. 1, p. 309).



  • This year he does maps of your home and town.  Also, he will do a family tree.  You cover all of the states and capitals and read about each state.  Finally, later in the year, there are chapter books assigned that should more or less be near the same time period (depending on how many generations you can get back.)  The maps and family tree seemed kind of SILLY to me the first couple of times, but now we really EMBRACE them.  I (not the kids) learned the key dates for our family generations and use it as a measuring stick for history.  Anytime I read a story, I say, “This happened ten years after Thomas Caswell came to America.” And the maps, if you point out the landmarks on the way to church and home, the kids really like it. “Remember your map?  This is the third stoplight you drew.  Oh, I never noticed the flower shop.  We should put that in.”
  • OLD, OLD PLANS: Know Your States is the cutest (out of print) workbook. We loved it. It doesn’t even have a digital syllabus anymore. 🙁 (I have permission from the company to share photocopies; email me if yours died.)
  • OLD PLANS: The United States Coloring Book syllabus was MIND-NUMBINGLY BORING. We never did it.
  • NEW PLANS: The new syllabi use Second Grade Map Skills. There are worksheets included for the afore-mentioned maps and family tree. Laura recommends moving from Known to Unknown. These books run afoul of that principle, but so did the previous choices, I think. Can’t remember, anyway I totally use these. Do what you like.


  • Sound Beginnings is used as a SPELLING text, not “learning to read.”  If you need 2GRD reading instruction, this is not it. 
  • We found a stack of sight words and team reading to be the best help in that department. We will be doing phonics all the way to 6GRD.  Learning sight words now isn’t going to cripple their spelling or word-attack skills later. 
  • Also, there are TWO penmanship curricula this year.  Sound Beginnings has its own manuscript.  You have a stand-alone handwriting text.  I ignore the writing instruction in Sound Beginnings and keep with the same path as last year. The school used to offer the Picard series, which I have on ebook, so I still use it. Writing our Catholic Faith is super-cute, but it’s black and white. My kids didn’t dig it and writing is already a battle around here.
  • As usual, there are plenty of oral compositions and copying. This year the focus is COPYING.  An important note, however, five minutes a day is ENOUGH, usually too much for my kids. If the passage is really long, just shoot for five minutes of good, solid work. If you want something to be in their own handwriting for a blank book or something, break up the copying over days.


  • Music is where you find the Latin this year. (Vocal training is especially helpful in teaching order and sequence of mind.  Also, this music is some of our greatest hymns in English and Latin.)
  • Used to we did the Jemison 36 hymns. We did NOT like the singer’s voice, so I used youtube if I didn’t already know the tune. Now there’s a second choice: soundcloud links paired with a school hymnal. I have old choir books here, so I don’t need the book, but we really dig the new hymn selections.


    • This year we do the recorder (which I never do because I don’t like it at all) and start the cute little Hayes music worksheets. The Hayes series continues up to 4GRD.  Then we switch to a different music reading course 5GRD and up.
    • Music Masters are LONG. Enjoying beautiful music is more important than learning the composer’s names.  But the way the biographies are told, they are still great stories of virtue and worth hearing a few times. These days though, I just tell them about the artist and youtube some good stuff. FYI, some of the composer’s lives are NOT child-friendly from other sources.  MM does us the favor of leaving out things not worth our attention. (Music moves the heart.  When you’re upset, it can calm you.  Affection for truly beautiful, emotion ordering music is important.  A child that doesn’t love helpful music will inevitably love only ugly music.)


  • This is the year of the math facts!  If you can get it under control now, you will be so glad. This book is advanced. There isn’t enough drill in the syllabi (since I last taught it.) I have a summary in the Do-Aheads so you can still skip the manual, if you want. This book assumes a lot happened last year. The “speed drills” aren’t for LEARNING the facts; they’re for speeding up the already-learned facts.
  • Facts drills aren’t scheduled, but they are necessary. Abeka worksheets in from here up will take a really long time if the memory work isn’t done.


  • Poetry this year is fun!  If you’re tired of Robert Louis Stevenson, this is the year for you.  He only has one.  We love these poems.  All of these poems are reviewed in future years.  (Again this exercises his memory, but more importantly, like music, poetry moves the heart. “Bed in Summer” is much more moving than the statement.  “Going to bed when it’s light outside is really hard.”)
  • These poems show up for review every year, at least through at least 7GRD. Unlike many other memory facts, these poems are never lost and become part of your family language.


  • Read Aloud has its own lists in the syllabus. There is no specific ORDER to the selections or requirement to complete the list. And it’s clear from school resources that the Berquist parents just divided the kids into “bigs and littles” for bedtime reading, and didn’t rigidly stratify by year. (Filling the child’s mind with stories of heroic virtue.  If you want a really good quick and dirty explanation of the how and why of virtue literacy, read the intro to Book of Virtues, and read the intro to each section in the Book of Virtues, and the paragraphs just preceding each selection.  It’s a QUICK classical worldview orientation. Plenty of Aristotle.)
  • There are suggestions made for the child’s read-alone time. Reading ALONE minutes are DAILY, this year. This is the reading instruction: practice, practice, practice.


  • This is Part I: Creed of the No. 1 catechism. These questions are an extension of many of the simple questions you learned last year.  We will do that again in 5GRD-6GRD with this material.  All questions from this section come back year after year after year.  See this post for the overview
  • Also, we do some saints.  About one every three weeks.  This is a light year for blank book entries.


  • OLD PLANS: This year is so cute!  The Seasons and Living Things worksheets are always a big hit in my home.  I don’t know why.  Also, we do Science with Plants.  I remember it mentioned somewhere that we’re supposed to do a science/nature notebook this year, but it’s not emphasized enough to stick in my mind.  Since the blank book work is so light, it’s probably important.
  • NEW PLANS: Second Grade Science! If you, like me, are juggling too many other things to rearrange the seasonal experiments in the old plans, get this book.