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Curriculum guide - Grade 2

The elementary school program is designed to develop students’ confidence in themselves as learners, to instill a love of learning, and to help them develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to communicate effectively, understand the world about them, and participate fully in a democratic society.

This web page outlines the major content areas and skills taught in grade two.

Students will engage in integrated or thematic study that requires them to read, write, investigate, converse, design, create, analyze, share and present data and opinions as they pursue solutions and understandings.
While all students will study at least the topics indicated here, there are also opportunities for students to choose other areas of study based on their interests and needs.

Parents can support their children’s school learning by using the vocabulary and discussing the concepts identified here as they share reading, discuss current events, or explore new places with their children.

Please click on any link below to learn more about that topic:


Language Arts

The Language Arts--reading literature and informational texts, writing, speaking, listening and language--are a major part of students’ elementary school program. The goal of Guilderland’s Language Arts program is to adhere to the K-12 Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and to develop literate students in the 21st century.

Students read and write every day for various purposes and receive frequent written and oral feedback from their teachers and peers. Instruction occurs individually, in small groups, and in whole class settings.

Students are expected to read and understand more complex material and write and speak with more sophistication as they progress through the grades. Attention to Language Arts skills and strategies is integrated into student learning throughout the day.

The purpose of reading is to make meaning from written material. It is a highly complex act of communication requiring active involvement. The overall objective of reading instruction is to develop motivated readers who process written language efficiently and derive meaning from what they read.

In grade two, reading instruction builds upon previous learning and adds focus on:
Both literature and informational texts
Self-selecting appropriate level texts for independent reading
Building reading stamina
Recounting stories including central message or lesson
Asking and answering questions (who, what, where, when, why)
Comparing and contrasting different texts
Reading increasingly more complex texts with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension
Understanding and applying grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words

Progress in reading is assessed formally and informally throughout the year.

The goal of Guilderland’s writing program is to develop students who can write competently and with confidence. Guilderland recognizes that writing is a complex process, and its writing program addresses the following student learning objectives:
Students at every level need frequent opportunities to write and to receive a great deal of appropriate instruction and feedback
Students need to realize that their lives, ideas and interests are worth writing about
Students need to know that audience and purpose will influence decisions they make about their writing
Students need to know the qualities of good writing and how to evaluate their own work
Students need to increase writing stamina

In grade two, writing instruction builds upon previous learning and adds focus on:
The Writing Process (with an emphasis on revision and editing)
Informational writing using various text structures
Opinion writing
Narrative writing
Responding to literature
Use digital tools with guidance and support to produce and publish writing

Students are expected to produce a variety of writing pieces throughout the year. They will complete their work with attention to the qualities of good writing, correct spelling and mechanics. Progress in writing is assessed through individual conferencing and review of the students’ writing folders with attention to specific areas of instruction.

Students will use uppercase and lowercase letters appropriately and with correct size in a written piece. They will use consistent spacing between words within paper margins. Using Zaner-Bloser handwriting, teachers will model and review all uppercase and lowercase letters for students. Students improve handwriting through short practice sessions aimed at improving letter formation.

In grade two, students are expected to spell a growing number of words correctly and to use familiar spelling patterns to help them write words. Students will engage in a word study approach that includes the development of phonics, spelling, word recognition and vocabulary.

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The New York Common Core Standards for Mathematics became mandated in the 2012-13 school year. The purpose of these newly developed learning outcomes is to create math instruction that is much more focused and coherent for students. In essence, children become more deeply familiar with math skills and concepts with a projected goal of mastery. The sequence of the standards allows our students to become more competent math learners by applying their math knowledge to everyday, critical math topics. The long-term goal of the Common Core initiative is to better prepare all students for college and the opportunities they will face in the future.

At the second grade level, a stronger emphasis is put on the acquisition of number sense. Students at the primary grades will develop a solid foundation from which future math concepts and skills are built upon. Fact fluency expectations in grade two require that students know their addition and subtraction facts to 20 with automaticity.

Go Math! by Houghton Mifflin Hardcourt Publishing Company is specifically written to support the Common Core State Standards. The critical areas and mathematical practices outline in the New York state curriculum are integrated into Go Math! chapters. Student tools allow children to engage in context-based mathematical situations that build to more abstract problem solving. Students use models, manipulatives, quick pictures and symbols to build deeper mathematical understandings. Instructional methods focus on the use of literature and technology as well as encourage students to talk and write about math.

Mathematical Content

Second grade Common Core Standards are organized into the following domains:
Operations and Algebraic Thinking
Number and Operations in Base Ten
Measurement and Data

Pervasive throughout the domains are several key mathematical practices. These are:
Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
Reason abstractly and quantitatively
Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
Model with mathematics
Use appropriate tools strategically
Attend to precision
Look for and make use of structure
Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

Required Fluencies in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
When it comes to measuring the full range of the Standards, usually the first things that come to mind are the mathematical practices, or perhaps the content standards that call for conceptual understanding. However, the Standards also address another aspect of mathematical attainment that is seldom measured at scale either: namely, whether students can perform calculations and solve problems quickly and accurately.

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In the 21st century a person must be armed with a science overview to adapt to the extraordinary changes that will occur, to be employed by the new industries that will emerge, and to participate in the decisions that society will make. The key is education and programs such as Science and Technology for Children (STC) to give every student science content and science process needed to develop scientific literacy.

Our elementary science program places an emphasis on acquiring skills, knowledge and attitudes toward science through active involvement in hands-on activities. The heart of the program is problem solving. Students are actively engaged in situations which begin with their questions and take them through the process of inquiry. Students gather information to help them find answers to their questions using the data they have collected. They experience problem solving in units that come from many of the scientific disciplines. The activities in the units direct student inquiry to conceptual understandings of the topic studied yet provide for individual interests.
Because many of the ideas being studied have direct relation to other disciplines, students are encouraged to make connections. We provide literature and other resources to foster such connections and supplement units with a wide range of materials including trade books, video discs, computer software, field trips and guest speakers.

Teachers are encouraged to enrich science instruction with topics of interest to their students and themselves. The catalyst for such studies may be student-generated questions, teacher or parent interest or current events. Problem solving is the common thread which ties these topical studies to our core curriculum.
Teachers assess student progress by observing their development as observers, hypothesizers, careful data gatherers and generalizers and by watching them work, reviewing their journals, and assessing their written and oral responses.

Our core program includes a series of topical units of study that include hands-on activities, specific scientific skill development (observing, measuring, comparing, predicting, estimating, and describing), problem solving, and assessment.


In SOILS, using simple tests, students learn to identify sand, clay, and humus in soil. They also study how water affects different kinds of soil. Through long-term experiments, they explore how roots and plants grow in various soils and how, with the help of worms, old plants decompose and become part of soil. Then, applying what they have learned, they investigate their own local soil.

In the LIFE CYCLE OF BUTTERFLIES, children are introduced to the concept of life cycles by using the Painted Lady butterfly. The students will learn observational and recording skills and add to their scientific vocabulary. They will relate this information to other living organisms.

BALANCING AND WEIGHING introduces students to the relationship between balance and weight. Experiences with a beam balance introduce students to the concept that amount of weight, position of weight, and position of the fulcrum affect balance. This unit also provides students with a variety of experiences and materials that help them build conceptual models for further investigations in the physical sciences.

Always building upon prior knowledge and understandings, students will use the following vocabulary words in the study of science in grade two:


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Social Studies

The ten key concept goals of the K-6 social studies curriculum are:

basic alterations in things, events, and ideas

membership in a community (school, state, nation...) with its accompanying behaviors, rights, and responsibilities

the way of living any society develops to meet its fundamental needs

the ability to understand others through being able to identify in one’s self responses similar to the experiences, behaviors, and responses of others

surroundings, including natural elements and elements created by humans

awareness of one’s own values, attitudes, and capabilities as an individual and a member of groups

reliance upon others in mutually beneficial interaction and exchange

a geographic/political organization uniting people by a common government

the conflict between unlimited needs and wants and limited natural and human resources

the tools and methods used by people to get what they need and want

social studies graphicThrough social studies experiences in the elementary grades, students will develop mental categories which provide a foundation for social studies learning in grades seven through twelve. As a result of participating in the social studies program, students should demonstrate steady growth in the following abilities and the skills which contribute to them:

The ability to obtain, organize, process and communicate accurate social studies information and ideas.

The ability to identify and investigate issues, generate and test hypotheses, and take and support positions persuasively.

The ability to make appropriate decisions, to identify and solve problems effectively and to initiate appropriate action.

The ability to form or acquire a set of standards and apply them to the evaluation of assumptions, sources, evidence, reasoning and arguments (critical thinking) and to the evaluation of beliefs, qualities and behaviors (valuing).

The ability to determine and understand their rights and responsibilities and decide how they should be exercised as contributing citizens (citizenship competency).


The focus in grade two is on developing children’s understanding of their local community’s rural, urban, and suburban elements. Children will also study other communities within the United States. Social/cultural, political, economic, geographic, and historic elements will be considered with continued emphasis placed on self-identity, participatory citizenship, and social interaction.

Central Themes Content Direction Skills Emphasis
History Holidays celebrate significant contributions to the nation Chronology
Cause and effect
Cultural/Social Community interdependence and variations Valuing
Political Rules and laws develop to maintain an ordered society Conflict resolution
Economics Economic choice is based on limited resources Problem solving
Decision making
Geography Local influences; Community development; maps and globes Graphic interpretation


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Health is a condition of well-being that is required for the development of each individual and for society as a whole. Health instruction at the elementary level builds a strong foundation to promote the health and well-being of our students. The health education program works in partnership with the home, school, and the community. To support this partnership with the parents, a list of videos that may be used is posted on our district website, and, prior to instruction of any personal safety lesson or video, a parent notification letter is sent home with students.
The elementary program provides accurate, age-appropriate information and builds upon prior learning. The curriculum consists of six strands and is taught by the classroom teacher and sometimes the support of other school staff or guest speakers. The six strands are:
Personal Activity and Nutrition
Tobacco, Alcohol, and Other Drugs
Family Life and Maturity
Violence Prevention
Unintentional Injury Prevention

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The elementary art curriculum in second grade continues with a sequential learning process that exposes children to a variety of techniques, concepts, and skills in both the two-dimensional and three-dimensional arts. The second grade visual art curriculum is aligned with the NYS Learning Standards in Art. It allows the art teacher to guide children through hands-on learning activities in a studio like setting that integrates art history from both past and present cultures, art criticism, aesthetics, technology, visual and digital literacies and careers in art.

Elementary art teachers work closely with classroom teachers to promote a positive, exciting learning experience. Connections are made across subject areas while simultaneously allowing children to express themselves as unique individuals. Each learning experience includes both a process and/or a product that may conclude over a period of several classes. All students meet once/week in the art room for 40 minutes.

In addition to the skills and content already learned, the second grade artist is introduced to and will experiment with but not limited to the following; symmetry, balance, continuation of the color theory to include complementary colors, three-dimensional shapes; reinforcement of appropriate use and manipulation of materials and tools.
Student artwork is displayed throughout the classroom and building on a regular basis. An annual K-5 student art exhibition is held in the spring at the Guilderland Public Library.

*The K-12 Visual Art Sequential Curriculum is built upon the fundamental principle that the Arts assists in the development of the whole child as it supports the child’s emotional and intellectual growth through sensory experiences that promote creativity, imagination, innovation, problem solving, critical thinking and artistic expression.

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Library Media

The Library Media Program plays a vital role throughout all aspects of the curriculum. The mission of the Library Media Program ensures that all students and staff effectively generate questions, access resources and create and share their new knowledge. In addition to managing the book collection and library web page, the Library Media Specialist provides instruction for individuals, small groups and whole classes of students. Areas of instruction include library orientation and circulation, literature appreciation, information skills and utilizing technology and digital media. Our second grade students are introduced to and participate in a variety of library experiences, such as:
Using the OPAC (library catalog) and Interlibrary Loan (Orientation and Circulation)
Learning elements of a story, appreciating award-winning books, acquiring visual literacy skills (Literature Appreciation)
Learning the arrangement and gaining access to the fiction, nonfiction and reference collections, beginning research processes, identifying features of nonfiction (Information Skills)
Online resources for research, creating digital products (Utilizing Technology and Digital Media)

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The purpose of the Guilderland music program is to advance the cognitive and cultural development of every student through active participation in music. Sequential class activities:
Promote critical thinking and listening skills.
Foster creativity through musical improvisation and composition.
Advance innate musical aptitude through class and public performances.
Encourage an understanding of world cultures.
Aid neural development of the brain benefiting literacy, spatial reasoning, verbal memory and problem solving skills.
Allow for a shared community experience by teaching music literacy (pattern structure recognition).

The elementary general music program is offered to students in grades K-5 twice a week for 30 minutes. The emphasis in music class is on the development of each child’s tonal, rhythmic and movement skills through a sound before sight approach. Similar to the way children acquire language skills, music is taught as an aural art. Students build a solid foundation of aural and performing skills through singing, rhythmic movement, and tonal and rhythm pattern instruction before being introduced to notation and music theory. The voice is a natural instrument for all children and emphasis is placed on the singing of a variety of songs from many cultures. Movement activities support dexterity, rhythm skill development, and beat coordination. Creativity, composition, and improvisation are encouraged at every level of music instruction. All students have opportunities to perform on classroom instruments including xylophones and rhythm instruments.

The curriculum utilizes Dr. Edwin Gordon’s Music Learning Theory. Children are evaluated for music aptitude in both tonal (melodic) and rhythm skills. The movement portion of the curriculum is based on Phyllis Weikart’s Education through Movement developed as a result of her study of the body as the center of learning for children.

In second grade the essential elements of the curriculum focus on:
Vocal development - to help each child expand the range and ability of their own singing voice learning a variety of songs and styles.
Rhythmic movement to the beat in a variety of ways, exploring space, flow, weight and time.
Instruction of folk dancing begins.
Tonal & rhythm patterning is extended (to increase music vocabulary) and labeled with rhythmic/tonal syllables.
Rote songs/chants and additional folk song repertoire.
Transfer of skills to a variety of percussion instruments such as drums, triangles, sticks, xylophone etc.

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Physical Education

Guilderland Central School District begins Physical Education in kindergarten. Basic concept and skill development are the primary objectives of the K-4 program. At these grade levels much time is spent helping the learner become aware of and develop a working knowledge of the Elementary Physical Education Concepts:
Directionality – ex. left/right, up/down
Foot-Eye Coordination
Hand-Eye Coordination
Locomotor & Axial Movements
Physical Fitness
Reaction Time
Rhythm & Dance
Spatial Awareness

With these concepts the following attributes are emphasized:

The primary focus of the second grade Physical Education program is a continuation of the basic movement concepts and skill development which were introduced in first grade. Furthering the experimental phase of movement concepts, activities and games are introduced to enhance the development of previously learned concepts.

After completing the Elementary Physical Education program, each child should be able to understand and apply all thirteen concepts whether in an organized physical activity or being active as a healthy choice. The Physical Education program is designed, ultimately, to enhance each child’s skill development and prepare them for the upcoming middle school program.

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