Mathematics in grade two builds on what the child has already learned; experience in using math is a process of continuous growth. Although second graders are introduced to new, more complex forms of math, the study of mathematics remains far more concrete than abstract -- numbers stand for something that the children can see.
Children are encouraged to see that mathematics is something logical, not merely a random collection of facts, and that numbers are linked together by relationships that can be grasped. Second graders use math in the course of working with science, cooking, health, social studies, reading, and writing. They are able to read numbers into the hundreds, both as numerals and as words. Their conceptions of ordinal numbers will reach to "twentieth."
The idea of zero will become clearer, and children will use it in their computations. Second graders learn the position of 1s, 10s, and 100s; they gain an understanding of fractions such as 1/4, 1/8, 1/3, 2/3, and 1/10 and their relationship to wholes; they begin to estimate more confidently; they conduct precise measurements in inches, feet, yards, ounces, and pounds; they learn about the calendar -- days, weeks, months, years; they begin using graphs to represent numerical comparisons; and they gain more understanding of money, learning the value of all coins and of one-dollar and five-dollar bills. In grade two, children become increasingly aware of the patterns of mathematics. They also do more computations in the form of word or story problems.
Q: What can my second grader expect to learn in Science this year?
The natural world is the basis of most science study in the second grade, just as it was during kindergarten and the first grade. The teacher's primary goal is to foster the children's sense of curiosity about the world and their skills of inquiry. Teachers will make frequent use of questions that stimulate the critical thinking of the children: Why is that? How does that happen? What if...?
Science study should be very active in the early primary years. Whenever possible, children interact directly with science materials and observe phenomena firsthand. They learn about pollution and the problems it causes; they become familiar with the relationships between oceans, seas, rivers, and ponds; they study animals and plants in increasing detail; they learn about the different planets and the solar system; they use simple machines; they experiment with electricity, principally through batteries and bulbs; they begin to understand the history of life on earth, primarily through studying the dinosaurs; and they add scientific terms -- matter, environment, machine, heat, electricity, extinction, and experiment -- to their vocabularies.
Q: What can my second grader expect to learn in Social Studies this year?
A large part of the social studies curriculum throughout the primary grades consists of learning about families, neighborhoods, cities and towns, and countries. Second graders focus their attention on the own neighborhoods - on landmarks, architecture, history, changes over time, commerce, distinctive features, and similarity to other neighborhoods. They also learn about and celebrate various local, state, and national holidays and festivals. They read biographies of important Americans.
The concept of citizenship is emphasized, usually in ways that promote responsibility, such as helping others and learning about rules and how rules are used to resolve conflict. Children will be asked to talk with their parents about voting and governmental functions. They will also interview their parents and grandparents about their cultural heritage. Maps will become more familiar, and children will be able to use map coordinates, read map symbols, and locate oceans, rivers, cities, and towns. One key aspect of second grade social studies is that children will show increased understanding of historical time.
Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your 2nd Grader by Vito Perrone, published by Chelsea House Publishers.
Copyright 1994 by Chelsea House Publishers, a division of Main Line Book Co. All rights reserved.