I wanted to share our weekly schedule for M’s second grade year even though I know we will rarely if ever have a week that looks just like my planning spreadsheet. I’ve tried to make each day a balance between written work and activities that will have us moving around more. I’m also balancing work I know M will enjoy and those things that tend to elicit complaints and eye rolls. And we’re working around weekly and monthly activities and C’s preschool so we have more time for work on some days than others.

Monday: Nature Study, Copywork, Free Writing/Drawing/Journaling time*, Reading Comprehension, 1 or more Narrations, Math. For 9 weeks of the fall, we’ll have co-op from 11-2 and M will have an art class from 3-4:30 every week.

Tuesday: History, Dictation, Free Writing/Drawing/Journaling time, Silent Reading, 1 or more Narrations, Math. Every other week we will have art group and on the off weeks we will occasionally attend a nature study class for C.

Wednesday: Chemistry, Dictation, Silent Reading, 1 or more Narrations, Math, Latin. C will be at preschool in the morning.

Thursday: History, Writing Assignment, Grammar, Silent Reading, 1 or more Narrations, Math. C will be in preschool in the morning. Once/month we will have science class at a museum in the afternoon.

Friday: Nature Study, Logic Puzzles, Math (usually a game or special activity), Free Writing/Drawing/Journaling time, Silent Reading, Music Appreciation. We may participate in a monthly nature study class.

Saturday: Chemistry with Brent

*M, C, and I each have notebooks that we will use for free writing/drawing/journaling time. We will spend 10 minutes with our notebooks communicating our thoughts on paper in some way – through words, pictures, doodles, anything. Obviously C may not sit for the whole time or even participate at all but I knew she would want to be included and she can get quite focusing when drawing or doodling.


Over the course of last school year, M gained the confidence to read short chapter books on her own and by early summer was devouring them at a rapid rate.  I knew about easy readers – we’d explored Elephant and Piggie, classics by Dr. Seuss, Mr. Putter and Tabby, Amanda Pig and many others as Meg began to read. When she was ready for something longer, she started with the Magic Tree House series and moved on to Cam Jansen, Rainbow Fairies, Keeker and the Sneaky Pony, Secrets of Droon, and other short chapter series.

But when those became easy reads, I wasn’t sure what was next.  She started several significantly longer books that we’d read aloud – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and The Lightning Thief for example. She could read them but her slow progress, the length of the books and the small print discouraged her so she only read a chapter or two. I wanted to encourage her to keep reading whatever she chose no matter the level, but I also wanted to present her with some choices that would challenge her but not be discouraging. I questioned a few teacher friends and learned more about different systems of leveling books, particularly Lexile and Fountas and Pinnell.

Based on what I’d learned I began to assemble a list of books that were at her current ability level or just above it. So if you are looking for some reading suggestions for a reader who is gaining confidence with chapter books, here are some options. Most of these are O, P, Q on the Fountas and Pinnell scale or 500-750 on the Lexile scale. They are more or less listed from easiest to hardest but all scales don’t agree and interest or familiarity with the story makes a big different in how difficult it seems to a reader at this stage.

Ivy and Bean series by Annie Barrows

Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald Sobol

Dragon Slayer’s Academy series by Kate McMullan

Time Warp Trio series by Jon Scieszka

The Boxcar Children (and sequels) by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Socks by Beverly Cleary

Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

Betsy, Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace

Animal Ark series by Ben Baglio

Dolphin Diaries series by Ben Baglio

M and C and I have been catching up on books we’d checked out of the library but not gotten around to reading yet. One evening we read through A Tree Is Growing by Arthur Dorros. Both girls were excited to see features of trees they recognized and all three of us learned many new facts about the various trees included. This book would be an excellent choice for a nature study day or the jumping off point for a unit study on trees or a nature study. We’re going to follow up by taking a nature walk today, seeing if we can count the species of trees we recognize and making a sketch of a tree once we get home.

Another night last week, we read Desert Giant: The World of the Saguaro Catcus by Barbara Bash. I realized that I knew very little about Saquaro cacti, certainly not that they could grow as high as a five-story building. We learned about many different animals that make their home in the Saquaro, how the fruits are used by people and animals and the fascinating details of the Saquaro’s life cycle.

This week’s Non-Fiction Monday is hosted by Zoe by Playing by the Book.

M and her dad have starting reading The Red Pyramid, the first book in Rick Riordan’s new series focusing on Egyptian mythology. We’ll be studying Egypt in a few weeks so we thought this would be a fun choice. She asked me for yet another re-read of Magic By the Lake which is her favorite of the Edward Eager books. We’re almost done with it and our next read will likely be either Gone-Away Lake or The Penderwicks on Gardam Street.

M’s reading has taken off by leaps and bounds over the summer and she’s now devouring books so fast I’m not sure I catch them all but this week I know she’s read The New Kid at School (Dragon Slayer’s Academy, Book 1), Camp Babymouse, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, and she’s started January Joker (Calendar Mysteries, Book 1).

I finished The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and fell in love with Flavia de Luce, resourceful 11-year-old chemist and aspiring poisoner. Now I’m reading Harriet the Spy and The Red Pyramid (when I can sneak it away from Brent and M).

While staying with my parents this week, C discovered several new favorites from my old books including: The Frisky Kittens by Roberta Miller, The Elephant Who Wanted To Be A Leopard by Eve Witte, and Nobody’s Puppy (a Whitman Tell-a-Tale).  She’s also made many requests for Curious George and the Puppies, Hide and Snake by Keith Baker, and Yummy! Yucky! by Lesli Patricelli which she often reads to herself before falling asleep.

As I mentioned earlier, we’ll be working through R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey’s Chemistry Level 1 course this year. The course includes suggestions for living books to go along with the curriculum and I’ve been making a list of suggestions from other sources as well.  I’ve planned the first few weeks of experiments and books but so far, we plan to use How to Think Like A Scientist by Stephen P. Kramer, The Periodic Table: Elements With Style by Simon Basher, What’s Smaller Than A Pygmy Shrew? and Can You Could To A Googol? by Robert E. Wells and Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake by Joanna Cole.

In the past we’ve done lots of informal nature study but I’d like to formalize our studies some more this year. I’m going to encourage both girls and myself to keep nature journals.  I’ve ordered The Handbook of Nature Study (the paperback is currently deeply discounted at Amazon) and we may follow along with the Outdoor Hour Challenges. I’ll also read plenty of books on nature topics with the girls. Right now, we’ve got several great titles from the library: Desert Giant: The World of the Saguaro Cactus by Barbara Bash, Houses from the Sea by Alice E. Goudey, Box Turtle at Silver Pond Lane by Susan Korman, A Tree is Growing by Arthur Dorros.

I’ve also been keeping a list of books about famous scientists, inventors, and adventures for M to read or for us to read together.  Here’s what I have so far: The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lasky, Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick, A Wizard From the Start: The Incredible Boyhood and Amazing Inventions of Thomas Edison by Don Brown, Now and Ben: The Modern Inventions of Ben Franklin by Gene Barretta, and Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean, a graphic novel by Sarah Stewart Taylor

When C spotted this interactive Discoverlogy title on the library shelf, she said we must get it. And she was right, both girls have been fascinated by Creatures of the Deep by John Woodward.  Each page spread covers a different topic on deep ocean science from early diving equipment to modern research to bioluminescence. The pages are filled with flaps, pull tabs, pop-ups, and wheels that bring the reader into a journey to the deep ocean and accentuate the fascinating photos and illustrations of animals that live in the ocean’s deepest waters.

This week’s Non-Fiction Monday is hosted by Apples With Many Seeds.

We’re going to cover Ancient Civilizations this year using History Odyssey as a guide but also pulling from Sonlight Core 1 and bringing in some of our own resources. We’ll do history twice a week on average (not that we ever really have an average week) and we’ll pick and choose between the activities and book choices given in History Odyssey, probably only doing about 1/4 of the suggested work. We’ll use Story of the World and The Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History as our spines and each week we’ll read a few short books and do a hands on project.

Our Booklist for the first several weeks:

Archaeologists Dig for Clues

The City of Rainbows: A Tale From Ancient Sumer

Pepi and the Secret Names: Help Pepi  Crack the Hieroglyphic Code

Ms Frizzle’s Adventures: Ancient Egypt

Adventures in Ancient Egypt (Good Times Travel Agency)


Pharoah’s Boat

Egypt in Spectacular Cross-Section

We’ll be using Ancient Science and Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors: An Activity Guide for science, art and cooking projects.