Homeschooling: 2nd Grade Curriculum Choices

Can you believe it? We are two weeks away from our first day “back to school.” We’re trying a six-weeks-on/one-week-off schedule this school year, so that means our first six weeks will run from July 27th-September 4th. Personally, I’m excited to get the first chunk of learning out of the way during the hottest weeks of the year!

See our curriculum choices for our second grader over at Lone Star Signers!

Here are our curriuculum choices for 2nd grade (2015-2016):

After a lot of consideration and conversation, we have decided to skip the community day aspect of Classical Conversations this year. This is Kate’s last year in preschool, and I want to be sure that we use this special time focusing on all the things that really matter to our family culture right now: spending time together outside, reading books aloud, visiting special places, etc. I want to continue savoring the simple things into the fall–and that means that we’ll be starting out each week at home rather than at CC.

Please note that Lone Star Signers does use affiliate links, but we only recommend items that our family has used and loved. Thank you for supporting our small business.

In planning our lessons for all the fun “extras,” I have pulled some ideas and resources from our Classical Conversations Foundations guide. We will continue to learn about artists and musicians, practice our timeline song, and complete science and art activities that go along with everything that we’re learning. I also utilized our Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and the terrific book What Your Second Grader Needs to Know to build a great year full of science, history, geography, and fine arts! (Read more about my planning process here.)

See our curriculum choices for our second grader over at Lone Star Signers!For math, we will be continuing on with Saxon Math 2 (link). It works for our family, and I love how much Kate picks up just from playing nearby while we do our lessons. I’ve written more about our reasons here: Why Saxon Math Works for Us!

For language arts, we’re continuing with First Language Lessons (link), Spelling You See (link), and our eclectic mish-mash of reading library books and writing/illustrating our own books for fun. We’re also hoping to put together a Young Author’s club for the fall.

I’m looking forward to this school year–what curriculum choices have you made?

Like this post? Read about our 1st grade curriculum choices here!

This post has been linked up at iHomeschoolNetwork’s 7th Annual “Not” Back-to-School Blog Hop.

Homeschooling: Planning for Second Grade Science & Social Studies Using Evernote

Public schools all over San Antonio let out for the summer last week. My Instagram feed is suddenly full of pool pictures and summer bucket lists.

Meanwhile, here at Casa Droegemueller, I’m hard at work getting Addie’s second grade curriculum organized for the year! We’ve decided to do a six week ON, one week OFF rotation, which means that our first day of school will fall on July 27th. Here’s our schedule for the first semester:

1st six weeks: July 27th-September 4th
OFF: September 7th-11th
2nd six weeks: September 14th-October 23rd
OFF: October 26th-30th
3rd six weeks: November 2nd-20th
OFF: November 23rd-27th (Thanksgiving)
(continued) November 30th-December 18th
OFF: December 21st-January 1st

In an effort to build more margin into our homeschooing routine, we have decided not to participate in our Classical Conversations community this coming year. It was challenging to have an all-day commitment on Mondays, followed by a morning at church on Tuesdays–we seemed to struggle with momentum every week. I feel like we have plenty of opportunities for socialization throughout the week, so we’re taking Mondays back as an at-home school day for second grade.

Now that we’ll have a little more time in our week, I’m looking forward to new opportunities for fun with science and social studies! Addie is a strong reader, so I know we’ll be borrowing a lot of books from the library and following her interests.

Using Evernote to Plan Science & Social-Studies | Lone Star Signers

I also wanted to flesh out a scope and sequence for the year, in case we end up returning to CC (or entering school) for third grade. I downloaded Evernote on both our computer and iPad to get organized! (If you haven’t tried Evernote, oh my goodness–don’t delay! This is a great series to help you get started.)

I set up a 2015-2016 Planning Notebook and created individual notes for each subject I wanted to start planning: art, music, memory work, science, social studies, and geography. At the beginning of the planning process, the note is a “drop box” to catch all my ideas (no more random pieces of paper to track down!)–I can type in text (or paste from another source), add a picture of something I want to remember, or save a screenshot.

Just a reminder that Lone Star Signers uses affiliate links for book recommendations. I only suggest books that we have used and enjoy as a family.

Once I set up my notes in Evernote, I pulled out all my planning resources for science and social studies: our state’s second grade standards (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS), What Your Second Grader Needs to Know, science books by Janice VanCleave, and our Classical Conversations Foundations guide. I listed a year’s worth of topics from both of my main resources, then added in the corresponding CC memory work and science experiements.

Homeschooling: Planning for Second Grade Science & Social Studies Using Evernote (Lone Star Signers)

A sneak peek at our History/Social Studies topic list for second grade!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be dividing the topics into our six-week sessions so I have a general plan for the year. I know some concepts may capture our interest and take more time, but I don’t want to run out of time at the end of the year, either!

Have you tried Evernote? Can you think of ways it can help your family get organized?

Did you like this post? Pin it!

Using Evernote to Plan Science & Social-Studies | Lone Star Signers

Why Saxon Math Works for Us!

We are nearing the end of our second year using Saxon math as part of our homeschooling curriculum. I know many families are making plans for next school year, so I wanted to share my thoughts in case anyone was interested.

Please note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products we have purchased and enjoy. 

A is currently 6.5 years old and in the first grade. We chose Saxon last year for Kindergarten because a veteran homeschool mama gifted us with the Teacher’s Manual, and I wanted to give the program a try. I had heard from other families that the early years of Saxon math is “easy”–that was true for us last year. Personally, I liked the short (and easily-combined) lessons, the repetition of important concepts, and the fact that we didn’t have to do written work–a plus for a child with fine-motor delays. Since we were just starting homeschooling and adjusting to the rigorous rhythym of Classical Conversations, I was content with “easy” for our first year of math. I wanted to be sure that we built a strong mathematical foundation.

Why Saxon Math Works for Us | Lone Star Signers

Fast forward a year–we are just past lesson 85 of Saxon Math 1, and I am loving it! I’m planning on ordering next year’s materials shortly (plus a Kindergarten meeting book for our preschooler). Here’s why Saxon Math works for us:

  • I see it working! Our precious first grader does a practice page in each lesson, filled with consistent review. I don’t worry that she’s going to forget how to tell time or make tally marks because I’m not teaching it directly this month.
  • Saxon’s scripted lessons give me confidence. While I personally *love* math, I want to be sure that I’m not missing any foundational concepts or using incorrect vocabulary when I teach.
  • Saxon “gets” homeschoolers–I have the freedom to skip, combine, or repeat lessons as it benefits my student. Do I follow the specific meeting script every lesson? No! Is it there if I need it? Yes!
  • Saxon is timeless. I LOVE that I can use the same curriculum with multiple children and not have to worry about it being out of date! Do I supplement with a few ten-frames activities from Teachers Pay Teachers? Sure, I want to be know that our daughter is meeting the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills–but I don’t need to throw out the baby with the bathwater to get there.
  • Most of all, I love that my girls can learn math in a real-life, hands-on manner TOGETHER. My three-year-old has absorbed a lot of math this school year, simply from sorting pennies and dimes or unifix cubes next to me while I teach her big sister.

I know that Saxon math is NOT for everyone, but it works for us in this stage of life!

What about you? I’d love to hear how you teach (or re-teach) math with your children.

Discovery Toys Marbleworks: Get Building!

I am a Discovery Toys Educational Consultant, so this post includes a direct link to my shop. It’s a chilly, rainy week here in San Antonio. My girls–so used to our daily outside time–are getting a bit stir-crazy! I typically set up a fun “invitation to play” after nap/rest time each day, so I decided to surprise my girls with an extra-special treat yesterday: Marbleworks! Get Building with Marbleworks! * Marbleworks is a new toy for our family. Since the recommended age is 5+, I’ve been trying to hold off until Kate’s 4th birthday–but the weather just isn’t cooperating! Both of my girls love to build, so Marbleworks is a great cooperative experience for our entire family. We start from the bottom and build up, making sure to save the Split Track and Start Gate for the very top. We talk about colors with Kate (3.5) and Addie (6.5) builds fine-motor strength in putting the pieces together. All the while, our girls are getting real STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education) experience:

  • The variety and number of pieces allow for an insane about of combinations. (Pascal’s Triangle, anyone?)
  • Building promotes spatial reasoning and logical planning.
  • Children are able to predict which track will be faster and make correct adjustments to support their theory.
  • Plus, it’s fun for kids and adults, so our entire family can have fun together (until *someone* gets too competitive…)

Marbleworks Review from Discovery Toys & Lone Star Signers Keeping this one packed away for special occasions definitely helps keep the mystique!

Marbleworks Ultra Deluxe Set
Marbleworks Deluxe Set
Marbleworks Starter Set (shown)
Marbleworks Add-On Set
Marbleworks Wild Ride (shown)
Marbleworks Crank It Up

Don’t forget: Discovery Toys has an incredible warranty policy for all of their toys and offers replacement pieces! I know many families who still have their original 20+ year old Marbleworks set–so I’m looking forward to years of fun with ours.

Simple Valentine’s Day Tot Trays

Valentine’s Day is such a fun (and simple) theme for Tot School! The girls and I took a quick trip through Dollar Tree last week, but we already had most of these materials on hand.

(Amazon links included throughout this post for your shopping convenience at no additional cost to you. We appreciate your support of Lone Star Signers!)

Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star SignersThis simple activity cost less than four dollars and has consumed our three-year-old’s attention for hours at a time. My original intention was to have her sweep the tiny hearts into the outline or place them on the line (as seen here and here), but sometimes children just want to play their own way. Kate loves little gems (similar)–she’ll transfer them between a creamer (found at Goodwill, similar) and an empty glass jar (reused from the kitchen), put them into ice cube trays and muffin tins, and scoop them into small flower pots with a scoop.

Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star Signers

Kate’s favorite accessories

Since we have little ones attend signing classes each week, I wanted to find a simple activity for babies. The Educators’ Spin On It suggested cookie cutters in a metal bowl, and the fun sound caught the attention of little ones all over the room! (We bought this pack of cookie cutters a few years ago and use them nearly every week for play dough and sensory play!)

Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star Signers

Our muffin tin gets a lot of use in sorting activities. I bought heart foam stickers (similar) and placed one in each compartment for a simple tot tray. Our IKEA tongs add an extra fine-motor component.

Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star SignersHere’s a variation from the previous tray: sort two colors into cups using a measuring spoon.
Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star Signers

I have a set of clothespins with each letter of the alphabet, so I grabbed three craft sticks and wrote out short words for Kate to practice word-building. An older child could also put the letters in ABC order or follow a simple pattern.

Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star SignersI made this ABC set last year–it’s such a simple way to practice letter recognition! You could also make a second set (upper or lower case) and play a matching game.

Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star Signers

Our package of pony beads is used regularly. I pulled four matching pipe cleaners and left the whole set out for exploration. I thought Kate might sort by colors or make a pattern, but her older sister just wanted to make a bracelet.
Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star Signers

No Tot School theme is complete without a handful of books! Here are our favorites for love & friendship: How Do I Love You?, I Love You Through and Through, Time for a Hug, and Hug Time

Favorite Valentine's Day books (LOVE & FRIENDSHIP) from Lone Star Signers

Exploring with paint was another fun activity! I added different amounts of black or white paint to plain red and let the girls create. Both of them LOVE our weekly art time.

Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star Signers

We wrapped up the week with this simple craft that will go with dad to work. (We made the same craft last year, so it will be fun to see how they’ve grown!)

Valentine's Day Tot Trays (11 of 11)You can see more Valentine’s Day activities on my Pinterest board! I always find more ideas than we can conceivably do in a week’s time.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Lone Star Signers!

Simple Valentine's Day Tot Tray Activities from Lone Star Signers