Saturday, August 8, 2015

2nd Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks

Is it already time for 2nd grade?  It is, and I spent over a month researching the homeschool curriculum we wanted to use for the year.  Some things I already knew we were going to use because we'd used them before and liked them, but others are completely new to us this year.  After coming up with a basic curriculum I scoured the internet typing in things like: "2nd Grade Homeschool Curriculum" just to see what other people were using to see if there was something I wanted to add or change about our list.  That's the reason I'm posting today, to give other people ideas and let you all see what we're using.  If you're wondering how I chose this curriculum, see our post: How To Choose Curriculum Without Pulling My Hair Out.

Things to know about our curriculum picks:

  1. We are blessed to live in a county where they provide us with $1,500 per child per year to buy the curriculum of our choice so long as it isn't Christian, art, or music.  Not everybody has that kind of money to spend, and some people aim to always homeschool for free.  If that's you, then use this list to get ideas for things you can get at your local library or at curriculum swaps, used bookstores, garage sales, e-bay etc.
  2. Virtually everything on our list was purchased at Rainbow Resource, which is pretty much the biggest online curriculum store there is.  A few things we purchased from Amazon.  The good thing is, Rainbow Resource typically has things that are below retail, and a lot of the items on our list were under $5 (though that can add up fast).
  3. We do incorporate Bible, art, and music into our school day, but those are things we have to find or buy on our own since our county homeschool program won't pay for those.
  4. As the school year progresses, I'll add homeschool curriculum reviews for some of these different items.  If there is already a review then the item name will be liked to it.  I will also be doing a video on what we are using for different subjects.
  5. Because we are still working on reading skills and comprehension, I try to include level readers into the curriculum wherever I can so that my 2nd grader gets a lot of practice and feels involved in her learning.  Because we make most of our science curriculum, science is filled with many level readers.
  6. I've marked our curriculum choices below with full curriculum and supplemental.  Supplemental can be anything from a single book to a science experiment kit.  A full curriculum is everything you need to teach the subject for the year including teacher's books, student workbooks, software, tests, etc.

What We Are Using For 2nd Grade Curriculum
To start off, HERE is a link to an online spreadsheet with all of our 2nd grade curriculum choices by subject if you prefer to view it that way.  In the spreadsheet are included prices, which I will not be providing here.

I made two videos to walk you through most of our curriculum, but some things haven't come in the mail yet so not everything in the list below is in the video.  The videos give you a quick look inside each thing, but the written descriptions go into detail about why and how we use these curriculums.  One is our main curriculum and one video (look under science) is our science curriculum.

History/ Health/ Social Studies/ Geography 

*Full Curriculum - Scott Foresman Social Studies Homeschool Bundle Grade 2 -  I chose this curriculum because it looked comprehensive and we didn't have a really good social studies curriculum for 1st grade.  There was another 2nd grade social studies curriculum that I looked at that was much cheaper, but it seemed lacking.  You can get this curriculum on Rainbow Resource or you can go directly to the Pearson Website and get it cheaper if you choose not to get the teacher's edition, which I don't believe is necessary for this grade level of this curriculum.  Also on the Pearson Website you can look at a sample of most of the entire book if you sign up.  They make the sample available for 30 days. 

*Full Curriculum - Daily Geography Practice Grade 2 -  We used grade 1 for first grade and LOVED it.  It's broken up into 2 questions per day for 5 days for the entire school year, but my daughter was able to zip through the questions so fast that we just decided to do all 5 days worth (10 questions) once per week instead.  This curriculum goes all the way up through middle school, is cheap, is well put together and illustrated, easy and fast to teach, and enjoyable for kids.  I can't stress enough how much we love this geography curriculum. 

*Full Curriculum - Mystery Of History Volume 2 Early Church To Middle Age -  This is a Christian Curriculum.  It parallels Biblical history with world history.  We tried Story of the World which is secular for first grade and just didn't like it.  That being said, I have no issue with secular history curricula, but found Mystery of History to be engaging and fun and it has great activities.  If you are Christian and trying to incorporate Bible curriculum, this is very informative.  This is one of those curricula you can use as a family.  For each lesson it gives activities/homework to do for younger, middle, and older kids.  This is one of my daughter's favorite subjects thanks to this curriculum.  We used Volume 1 for 1st grade.  You could use volume 1 for 1st and 2nd, but we're moving at a faster pace because I want to do something else for 3rd grade.  To be clear, this is an enormous book and will take up space on your shelf.

- Supplemental - 101 Things You Should Know About Geography - This is a fun book and we bought this to use throughout our geography journey, not just for second grade but also in the years to come.  You could easily get by without this book if you're using Daily Geography Practice, but it's fun to have, colorful, and well illustrated.

- Supplemental - There's A Map On My Lap: All About Maps (Cat In The Hat)

- Supplemental - Why Shouldn't I Eat Junkfood? - I couldn't find a good health curriculum for 2nd grade, or at least not one that I liked enough to use.  That being said, for science this year we are going to be spending almost 2 months studying the human body, and I wanted something health related to go with that study, so I chose this book.  We are a pretty health conscious family, but like everyone we have our weaknesses and junkfood is one of them.

- Supplemental - World / U.S. Rolled Map Pack - Paper (40” x 28”) from Rainbow Resource.  If you have a globe or other maps, use those.  We didn't have maps or globes and I wanted a really nice yet cheap map set to put up on the wall in the dining room where we do school each day.  This is two maps, one of the world and one of the United States.  They are large, colorful, and best of all, cheap.  Rainbow does offer a laminated version, but I didn't want to pay extra money for those when it wasn't necessary.

* Full Curriculum - Voyages In English Grade 2 Student - I found that I didn't need the teacher's text for Voyages In English first grade, and after looking through the 2nd grade student workbook I decided to skip the teacher's text again.  We may start using the teacher's text when we get into the third grade, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.  The 1st and 2nd grade student workbook is very explanatory and has more than enough information to teach the subject.  We really enjoy this program, though I have heard it gets very intensive in upper levels.

* Full Curriculum -  Printing Power Plus Workbook Set - This is part of the Handwriting Without Tears program.  We used the level before this in first grade and she loved it.  She was able to work independently without much help from me (which she also loved), so we are going with the program again for second grade.  You can buy just the Printing Power book (blue) but the workbook set was cheap and includes a workbook that introduces cursive which is the next level up.

*Full Curriculum - Words Their Way Level B - We tried this curriculum in first grade and loved it.  It's not your typical rote memorization spelling program.  My daughter didn't do well with a rote memorization program we had tried before so we switched to this and she's doing well with it.  The kids cut out their spelling list each week and spend the week sorting and organizing the list into categories.  Then at the end of the week they glue the words down in their place in the workbook, do a single written worksheet, and move on to the next weeks list.  They take a test around every 4 weeks.

- Supplemental - Vocabulary Cartoon of the Day For Grades 2-3 Scholastic - Because Words Their Way doesn't do vocabulary with the spelling we'll be using this for vocabulary.  It's not a curriculum though I believe it's a short, easy, and fun way to learn vocabulary.

We did 1st and 2nd grade Horizon math during 1st grade, so we're doing grade 3 for second grade.  Math is just one of those things that homeschoolers tend to move up or fall behind in, so choose the math level your child is at.

*Full Curriculum - Horizon Math Grade 3 Boxed Set - The boxed set includes the teachers manual and both student workbooks for the year.  We really enjoy Horizon math because it's circular and also colorful.  For 1st and 2nd grade math I did not use the teacher's manual but a few times to figure out what the workbook was asking her to do, but as we move up in the grades I think we'll be using the teachers manual more and more.

- Supplemental - Be a Zoo Vet (Real World Math) - Orange Level *Grade 3* - This is a book I'm excited about.  Real World Math makes books for grades 3 and up (they might do grade 2 also but I don't remember).  Each book has a different topic like race cars, animals, or outer space.  I chose the zoo vet since we're studying animals in science this year.  This isn't a full curriculum, but it's a fantastic way to show kids how useful math really is in the real world.  It has students using the math skills they're learning in real world scenarios.

- Supplemental - Math Dictionary for Kids - We'll be using this throughout our years of math.

- Supplemental - Why Before How: Singapore Math Computation Strategies - This is more of a book for me to be able to teach my child better.  It gives strategies and exercises for teaching math to students.

- Supplemental - Geoboard 6" 5x5 pin double-sided w/ rubber bands - This only cost about $2 and she loves playing with this.  We'll be using it as we get into geometry and other things. 

- Supplemental - Multiplication Table/Grid Chart - This also cost $2.  I'm sure you could find ones to print online for free.  This one is laminated and we'll be using it as we get more and more into multiplication.

- Supplemental - Learning Wrap-Ups - Multiplication - I love math wrap-ups.  There are different brands that make them and call them different things.  You can find them on a lot of different learning sites and also on E-Bay.  We just finished using the addition and subtraction ones.  They're a great way for kids to practice their math facts and check the answers themselves (especially if you have a kinesthetic/tactile/hands on learner, ie a person who learns by moving.  Teachers know these kids by another name (antsy, unable to sit still).  We keep our math wrap-ups in the car and she uses them whenever we are on our way to the grocery store, field trip, other activities, etc.

Reading/Reading Comprehension

Brain Quest Reading - Grade 2  - This isn't a full curriculum, but it also isn't a supplemental curriculum.  It's somewhere in between.  We used the level before this for grade 1 and my daughter loved it.  You read a short story (less than 2 minutes) to the student, and then the student answers 5 questions based off of the story they just heard, and 5 questions based off of other things students in their grade level learn in English.  The box comes with 2 compact books that are meant to be carried around in a purse, backpack, or glove box.  They're great to take with you on the go to keep kids occupied, and when kids are able to read fluently on their own, they can use this on their own without help.  We did one story and it's related questions per day.

* Full Curriculum - Hooked on Phonics Grade 2 - We used grade 1 this past year and really liked it.  It's a go at the students pace curriculum, so some students will zoom through it, and others will take longer and have to repeat lessons several times before they get it down.  That's ok because students should learn to read at their own pace.  Each grade level comes with 2 boxes and each box contains a DVD with short 3-6 minute reading cartoons, a workbook, stickers to keep track of progress, and 4 level readers.  The way it works is the student watches the cartoon which teaches them a new reading concept, and then goes to the workbook and practices.  They can watch the cartoon again and practice the pages in the workbook as many times as they want or need to to get the concept down.  Then they move on to the next cartoon lesson and workbook pages.  At every 1/4 of the workbook they'll be ready to read one of the level readers.  It's a very easy program to use.

Novels (Novels she will be reading)

This year we got a lot of "Flat Stanley" novels for her to read, as well as "The Wind In The Willows", "The Lighthouse Family: The Eagle," and "The Biggest Bear".  You can check them out in the first video towards the top of this post.  Whenever she finishes one of these novels she'll be doing a book report.  See our post here for our free book report worksheet and how we do book reports (Lion Cub Style).

Novels (Novels I will be reading to her)

I like to read to her for 10-15 minutes a day.  I talk to her about what we read and ask her a few questions.  This year we'll be reading, "The Pushcart War," "Seaglass Summer," "Toothpaste Millionaire," and the first few novels from the "Little House On The Prairie" series.  You can see these books in the first video towards the top of this post.


*Full Curriculum - Who Is God (And Can I Really Know Him?) Volume 1 - This is a really nice and easy to use curriculum by Answers In Genesis. It doesn't have a workbook, but they do sell a coloring book which I've listed below.  I read her the lesson while she colors the page in the coloring book for that lesson, and then I ask her questions.  There are also journaling opportunities for each chapter.  This is the 1st in the 2 volume set and is suitable for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade.

* Part of above full curriculum - Who Is God? (And Can I Really Know Him?) Volume 1 Coloring Book 

* Brave Girls Bible Stories - This isn't necessarily a curriculum, but we use it as such anyway.  It's a great book, though it is gender specific and as far as I know they haven't made a version for boys.  There are stories about different women in the Bible, and each is told from a different modern day cartoon character girl.  It's fully colored and illustrated and has a prayer at the end of each story along with how girls today can take the information they've just learned and use it to build their character.  My 6 year old loves it and I suspect girls from 5-9 would enjoy it and learn from it.  It takes us about 5 minutes to go through a story.

Here's a video about how we do science with a look into our curriculums.  Keep in mind that 4 or 5 things listed below didn't make it into the video because I forgot to pull them out or they are still in the mail.

I have this pet peeve about how they teach science in most public/private schools.  It seems like they teach the same topics year after year, only going a little more in depth into the topic as each year passes.  I feel like students never really get a clear grasp on any one topic this wayFor this reason we use a full science curriculum just to be sure we're meeting state benchmarks (ie I don't want to miss anything), but we also choose 3-4 topics a year to really sink our teeth into, and I make my own curriculum for those.  I've broken up the four topics we're going into this year for you to see what we're using to teach each of them.

Science - General
* Full Curriculum - Science Fusion: Grade 2 - We used grade 1 for 1st grade.  All of the lessons are on the computer and they are interactive.  You have to have internet access to get to them.  I was impressed with this curriculum, but like other public/private school curricula it covers the same topics again and again.  What I like about this (aside from the fact that my child loves it and feels like it's a computer game) is that it tells you what science benchmark they are meeting for their grade for each lesson.  It comes with a large fully illustrated workbook that serves as the textbook.  You do a lesson on the computer and then do several pages in the workbook.  We don't actually use the workbook much, and instead just go through the lessons on the computer (which go by fast).  We try to use this for half of the year, and use the other half of the school year to get into the topics we've chosen.  Sometimes if the topics we've chosen for the year align with this curriculum, we use this to introduce the topic, or use some of the workbook pages to supplement what we're doing.

- Supplemental - Living World Encyclopedia - This is an awesome encyclopedia, and we plan on using this through the years in our science studies.  Because we are studying a lot about animals, insects, and plants this year we'll be using this for further study on all of those topics.

- Supplemental - Berenstain Bears Big Book of Science and Nature - My child learns well with story type books that have a lot of facts, which is why we chose this book to supplement our studies about animals, nature, etc.  It is jam packed with facts and is a great way to introduce certain topics in an interesting way.

- Supplemental - Backyard Biology: Investigate Habitats Outside Your Door (Build it Yourself) - I really like this book.  When we are studying plants and insects, we'll be using this book a lot.

- Supplemental - Magic School Bus: Complete Series Seasons 1-4 8 DVDs - You could spend over $100 dollars on the entire Magic School Bus DVD set, or you could watch them all on Netflix if you are subscribed to that (which is how we plan to watch them). Magic School Bus has a lot of episodes on plants, insects, and the human body, so we'll be watching some of the episodes on Netflix to introduce topics we'll be studying in science this year.

- Supplemental -   In the Rainforest (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science Level 2) - I love the Lets Read and Find Out Science books.  They're well illustrated, packed with information, and easy to get through.  You could read it through once and be done with it, or read through it several times and use it over and over for different areas of study within a topic.  Since we're studying about animals this year, I wanted to have this book on this particular habitat.

Science - Animals
When I was putting together the curriculum for animals, I came up with a list of topics I wanted her to know about relating to animals and picked books accordingly.  Since everything in this list is a part of our curriculum, I'll be listing the topic instead of supplemental or full curriculum.  Most of the books in this list are under $5.  We'll be going through each of these books (most are rather short), and then she'll be journaling and also watching videos and making art based off of what we're learning.
[Mammals] Is A Camel A Mammal?
[Reptiles] Miles and Miles of Reptiles: All About Reptiles
[Reptiles] Snakes (Penguin Young Readers Level 3)
[Reptiles and Amphibians] Reptiles and Amphibians - Level 3 (Half and Half)
 [Amphibians] Why Frogs Are Wet (FRAFOS L2)
[Amphibians] About Amphibians: A Guide for Children
[Amphibians] Look Out for Turtles! (LRAFOSL2)

[Birds] Fine Feathered Friends: All About Birds
[Birds] How Do Birds Find Their Way (LRAFOS L2)
[Birds] Why Do Birds Sing? (Penguin Young Readers Level 3)
[Birds] Owls: Birds of the Night (Penguin Young Readers Level 3)
[Birds] Birds of Prey Zoobook

[Camouflage] Why Do Tigers Have Stripes?
[Camouflage] What Color is Camouflage?

[Food Chain] Who Eats What? Stage 2 LR + FOAS
[Extinction] Almost Gone (LRAFOS L2)
[Veterinarians] Doctor for the Animals - Level 1 (Half and Half)
[Animal Senses] Amazing Animal Senses (Kingfisher Readers Level 2)
[Hibernation] Hibernation (Scholastic Reader Level 2) 
[Nocturnal Animals] Nocturnal Animals Zoobook
[Nocturnal Animals] Black Out!  Animals That Live In The Dark! (Penguin Young Level Readers)

[Animal Babies] Animal Babies Zoobook
[Animal Babies] How Animal Babies Stay Safe (LRAFOS L1)
[Animal Babies] Penguin Chick (LRAFOS L2)

[Marine Life] Octopus is Amazing (LRAFOSL2)
[Marine Life]  What Lives in a Shell? (LRAFOS1) 

[Wildlife and Habitats] By Pond and River
[Animal Habitats] Where Animals Live (Kingfisher Readers Level 2)

[Wolves] Wolves (National Geographic Reader Level 2)
[Predators] Deadly Predators (National Geographic Reader Level 2)

[Pandas] Pandas (National Geographic Reader Level 2)
[Bats] Zipping, Zapping, Zooming Bats St 2 LR+FOAS
[Farm Animals] Farm Animals (Scholastic Reader Level 2)
[Horses] Ponies (National Geographic Reader Level 1)
[Domestic Animals] Animals At Home (DK Reader Level 1)
[Special Animals] Fake Out! Animals That Play Tricks (Penguin Young Readers Level 3)

Science - Human Body
For the human body I wanted a full curriculum to make sure I didn't miss anything, but because my child is a visual learner I also wanted her to have videos to help her grasp some of the concepts we'd be learning.  In studying the human body my goal isn't to overwhelm her with worksheets, though we will be using some of them from the various curricula we've chosen.  Instead I want her to be able to see and hear what she's learning about via kid friendly videos, do something hands on with what we're learning about (there's a book to help us with that in the list below), read, and write about what she's learning about.

*Full Curriculum - Human Body COLOR (God’s Design for Life) - This is a Christian curriculum and I really like the way it's laid out.

*Full Curriculum -  Human Body Grades 2-3 - This is a secular curriculum that is very worksheet based and not as in depth as the Human Body Color.  We got it for all of the worksheets.  You could use this as a great jumping off point for building your own in depth curriculum.

*Full Curriculum - Discovering the Human Body and Senses - This is a full secular curriculum, and a good option if you don't want a Christian curriculum for human body.

> DVD - Human Body DVD - This is a DVD for grade/middle school students and we'll be using this to introduce body systems as it's helpful to see inside body systems along with reading about them.  We'll also be doing the same with certain Magic School bus episodes.

-Supplemental - Where Do Babies Come From? - Girl’s Edition - This is a Christian book meant to teach the basics of reproduction in a way that is easy to understand and appropriate for children in grades 1-2.  There is a boys book.  This is in story format and our daughter loved it.  It does have diagrams, but it teaches it all in a very matter of fact way and is scripted in a way that makes it easy for children to understand and parents to read.

- Supplemental - The Body Book: Easy To Make Hands On Models That Teach - I felt like in order for my daughter to really get a firm grasp on the different body systems that she'd do well to be able to make and color models.  This book will allow us to make simple paper models of the body systems we're studying.

- Supplemental - Human Body Book (Die Cut Cover) - We got this book for the colorful diagrams and pictures.  It's not necessary but we like to have it while studying the human body.

- Supplemental - Drop Of Blood (Lets Read And Find Out Science)

Science - Insects
My goal with studying insects wasn't to go super in depth like some of the other science topics we are going through this year.  This is a topic she had expressed interest in, so I worked it into our curriculum.  Together we chose insects she was interested in learning about and we got books based on those choices.  We also got a couple of books about insects in general.  If we get into this subject and find that we want to learn more and go more in depth, then we'll find some good documentaries to watch and seek out other material at the library.

- Supplemental - Dragonflies: Catching - Identifying - How and Where They Live

- Supplemental - Ant Cities Stage 2 LR + FOAS

- Supplemental - Honey in a Hive (LRAFOS L2)

- Supplemental - Wiggling Worms at Work (LRAFOS L2)

- Supplemental - On Beyond Bugs: All About Insects - This is a Cat In The Hat book with all kinds of good information in it.

- Supplemental - Pocket Genius - Bugs

- Supplemental - Secret Lives of Backyard Bugs

- Supplemental - Busy! Insect (Spectrum Reader Level 1)

- Supplemental - Monster Bugs - Step into Reading Level 3    

- Supplemental - 1001 Bugs to Spot - This is more of a book we got for fun.  It's a Where's Waldo or I Spy style of book.

- Supplemental - Insect Detective - This is a story book I will use to introduce the topic.

Science - Plants
Plants is what we're going to be studying for science in the spring, and likely into the start of summer.

*Full Curriculum - ScienceWorks - Plants - This is not an in depth curriculum but is a great jumping off point for this topic with a lot of great worksheets.

*Full Curriculum - World Of Plants - Great Science Adventure - This is an in depth curriculum.

- Supplemental - Plant Parts (Life of Plants)

- Supplemental - Plant Growth (Life of Plants) 2nd ed.

- Supplemental - Oh Say Can You Seed? - Another great info packed Cat In The Hat Book

- Supplemental - I Can Name 50 Trees Today - A Cat In The Hat book.

 - Supplemental - Be a Friend to Trees (LRAFOSL2)

 - Supplemental - Life Cycle of a Flower

 - Supplemental - Strange! Plants (Spectrum Reader Level 3)

 - Supplemental - Dangerous Animals & Plants (Pckt Ntrlst Gde)

 - Supplemental - Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants - We'll be using this when we go out into nature for field studies.

 - Supplemental - Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants - We'll be using this when we go out into nature for field studies.

 - Supplemental - The Tree Doctor (Step Into Reading Level 2) - A Cat In The Hat book.

 - Supplemental - Eco Plant Pals - Aloe Alin, Butterfly Beth, Fly Trap Fred, Damian Dragon - Eco Plant Pals are little grow your own plant kits.  When learning about plants I want my daughter to actually be able to grow her own (we chose some interesting ones, they're very cheap) and be able to study them, journal about them, and be able to identify different plant parts.


We got her a purple Canto recorder from Rainbow Resource and I'm teaching her how to play that this year.  It didn't cost very much and there are a lot of YouTube videos about how to play.


We participate in homeschool art classes towards the end of the school year.  I also keep around 10 kids how to draw books in a bin with drawing paper for her.  I give her art time each day and let her teach herself.  She's very creative and doesn't seem to need much instruction from me with drawing.  During certain subjects (like insects in science) I'll have her draw things from the insect drawing book we have, or another related drawing book.  Kids how to draw books are cheap at Rainbow Resource or on Amazon.  Usually around $5.  We try to get 2 or 3 a year, and because we do that, our collection grows pretty fast.  With how to draw books it's easy to get ones that fit your children's interests.

- Supplemental - Logic Safari Book 1 - We haven't done logic yet but are starting this year.  I remember doing similar logic puzzles when I was in grade school, and can't wait to start her on them too.


Spectrum Test Preparation 2015 Grade 2 - She doesn't have to take the state tests until 3rd grade, but we're going to have her tested this year with the Iowa Basic Skills Test (we're not in Iowa but that test is administered across the country).  We don't do a lot of tests in our day to day schooling.  She takes math tests and that's it.  I want to do some prep work and teach her how to take tests so she can take the Iowa test at the end of the school year.  That test will give us an idea of what she needs to work on for 3rd grade and also give her a practice run before she has to take the state test at the end of 3rd grade.

I hope getting a look inside our curriculum has given you some ideas for yours.  If you're curious as to how we fit all of this in during one year, check out my post on our Flexible Homeschool Schedule.

What are you using this year for 2nd grade, or what have you used in the past for 2nd grade?  Let us know in a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Online homeschooling reviews


  1. I like a lot of your choices. I have a daughter who will be in 2nd grade for 2016-2017, yep I am looking for next year. Just getting ideas. I bet the $1500 credit for school is nice.

  2. I didn't know that brain quest was still putting out new products. My older kids (ages 23 and 21) loved brain quest materials when they were younger. I will have to keep an eye out of new resources my younger students can use.