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Second Grade | Alim

Curriculum Overview: The Second Grade Classroom

There are many milestones in 2nd grade and creating a classroom that responds to the developmental needs of seven and eight-year-olds is the goal. 2nd graders can display longer attention spans, they are curious, and frequently ask adults and peers questions. 2nd graders also show increasingly complex and creative strategies to solve problems at home and at school. Their language skills reflect the increasing impact of language and reading instruction.

In terms of social and emotional development, 2nd graders start to experiment more with handling their emotional and social lives independently; they show that they can take some initiative socially, and that they have the capacity to understand others’ actions and feelings. In 2nd Grade, the emphasis is on teaching social skills to encourage positive social interaction between peers, namely, how to work in groups, how to communicate effectively, and how to help others. Self-discipline and striving toward more independence are also important goals. Our belief is that students learn best when:

  • they feel seen, loved, honored, and respected as individuals
  • they feel their self-identity belongs as a part of a greater community
  • they explore and learn through shared experiences and social interaction
  • their current knowledge is built upon to construct new knowledge
  • they are presented with material at their appropriate level
  • they are taught through many modalities
  • they are interested in and find personal meaning in the curriculum
  • they have clear guidelines, expectations, and feedback
  • they have challenging, achievable goals
  • they have choices about their learning
  • they have authentic, experiential opportunities to learn and apply skills and concepts

Reading / Literacy Block

In reading, we strive to create a Balanced Literacy Program in which reading and writing are regarded as complementary processes that promote higher level thinking skills. Students are exposed to a variety of genres, mainly in a book group format. Groups are flexible depending on interest, instructional level, and skill level, etc. During this block, students are reading, writing, and talking about books. The emphasis is on vocabulary development, stamina, reading comprehension strategies, fluency, and guiding students to help make meaningful connections between the text and themselves.


The yearlong Writer’s Workshop curriculum is divided into month long units of study. Many units of study help children learn to write within a particular genre such as writing true stories about small moments, research reports, or poetry. Other units highlight particular aspects of the writing process such as revision. Either way, children generally produce many pieces of writing across a unit of study and then, at the end of the unit, each child selects one or two pieces to revise and edit for publication.

Spelling / Word Study / Handwriting

The spelling program focuses more on teaching children patterns in English to give a deeper understanding of word structure rather than memorizing words for a weekly test. We use the Wired For Reading curriculum, as well as Words Their Way. We also learn about the history of the English language. By the end of the year, our goal is for the students to understand, identify, and even know the difference between Anglo Saxon, Latin, and Greek based words. Our experience is that a lot of students study the spelling words, do well on the test, but then misspell those same words in their everyday writing. The goal is for students to be able to apply learned word patterns in their own writing consistently. For handwriting, we use the Handwriting Without Tears program. Proper grip and letter formation are reviewed and practiced.


Alim students will continue to use the Tal Am Hebrew curriculum as a primary tool for Hebrew language study. Alim students will be able to build and reinforce the communicative language skills that they acquired last year in Sh’tilim. Learning materials will again consist of interactive posters, flashcards, big books, musical CD’s,games, guided readers, and library books. The themes spiral congruently with the themes from the previous year including: The Jewish Year — Daily life in the classroom, at home and outdoors, Shabbat, holidays, and Torah. Hebrew cursive writing will also be taught and utilized this year.


We will mainly be using the Everyday Math curriculum, along with other supplemental materials. This curriculum is set up so that understanding is built over a period of time, first through informal exposure and then through more formal and directed instruction. Children are expected to master a variety of skills and concepts, but not necessarily the first time those concepts are encountered. The curriculum “doubles back” by revisiting topics, concepts, and skills and then relates them to each other in new and different ways. Lessons are presented briskly and in an interesting way. Research has shown that when newly learned concepts and skills are periodically reviewed, practiced, and applied in a wide variety of contexts, they are better retained. Concepts to be taught are:

  • numbers & routine addition and subtraction facts
  • place value/money & time
  • probability
  • addition & subtraction
  • 3D & 2D shapes
  • whole number operations and number stories
  • patterns & rules/fractions
  • measurement
  • multiplication & division
  • decimals & place value
  • whole number operations revisited
  • year-end reviews & extensions

When students are not working on Everyday Math activities, choice is built into the math curriculum so that students can work independently and at their own pace. Students frequently work on problem solving activities, games, and extensions to practice concepts already learned, as well learn the curriculum at a deeper level.

Social Studies

The Social Studies curriculum is integrated into other content areas as much as possible, especially, through literature. Students will learn about the Rain Forests of the world. Skills include: learning map features, learning about mapping skills, and learning about the native peoples indigenous to those areas of the world. Students will also study different parts and cultures of the world by reading biographies of famous people. The social studies curriculum also includes weekly class meetings, where the class comes together to discuss and problem-solve any issues that arise during the week. The students help each other with issues that concern them. The agenda is created by the students, and eventually class meetings are led by the students rather than the teacher. Class meetings are also a time to practice social skills and build community by giving each others compliments. Social skills are practiced through teaching role play, practicing I-Statements, and stories.

Parshat Hashvuah / Torah Study

Torah Study is an integral part of the Alim curriculum. The goal at SJCS is to facilitate a lifelong intellectual, emotional, and spiritual connection to Torah study. Students will come to understand that Torah study is not about what “was” in the past but, ultimately, about what “is” today. Curiosity and critical thinking skills are developed through Torah learning, and utilized in order to internalize Torah lessons and mitzvot to our everyday life experiences. Each week Alim students will examine the weekly Torah portion. We will focus on what is happening in the text, how is God involved in the text, what questions can be derived from the text, what mitzvoth are contained in the text, and what values or lessons can we learn from the text. During the course of study in Alim commentaries will be introduced and students will create their own interpretations of the text as well. Key Torah vocabulary and verses will be incorporated into Torah learning. Students will express and explore content, concepts, values, and mitzvoth through discussion, writing, artistic expression, and drama.


What is Inquiry Based Science?

Research has shown that the best way for children to learn important science concepts is to actively construct ideas through their own investigations. In the science lab, this means making observations, asking questions, testing ideas, recording results, comparing data, building concepts and explanations.

Core Inquiry Based Science Concepts for All Students:

Students explore core scientific concepts in the science lab. All students work on being keen observers. This means that they use their senses to observe what they are learning. They look — noticing changes, colors, shapes, and behaviors. They touch — observing the temperature and feeling for texture and consistency. They smell — noticing differences between the materials and noting if there is an odor. They listen — noting how the sound relates to the materials. Then, they use their words to describe what they are observing by writing in their science journals and having discussions with other scientists. Students have been learning how important it is for scientists to record data and their observations in organized ways, using tables, anecdotes and illustrations. They make predictions based on prior knowledge and then compare the results to their predictions. Students learn that scientists use models in order to observe something that cannot be easily seen. In the lab lessons, they learn how to conduct fair tests. This means knowing which variables remain the same (controlled) and which variables are changed (manipulated). The Lab Science Units are taught in addition to the classroom inquiry based science units

The first science unit we are covering in the classroom is called Balancing and Weighing. In January we will be starting a unit entitled Forest Explorers, a program in conjunction with the Woodland Park Zoo. During this time, students will be doing research reports on animals indigenous to the Rain Forests of the world. Finally, we will end the year with a unit on Soils with HaMorah Brooke, which follows up nicely to our Rain Forest unit. The following outline is a curriculum overview from haMorah Brooke:

2nd Grade: Soils

Students investigate the chief components of soil—sand, clay, and humus—and explore the relationship between soil and plant growth. They gain practice in conducting tests to identify soil components, interpreting tests to draw conclusions about soils, and recording their observations. Students discover and identify different properties of sand, clay, humus, and garden soil. They apply knowledge to investigate a “mystery” soil and discover its composition.

As students’ progress through the unit, they will perform activities involving:

  • A close examination of a local soil sample, in which students are usually excited to find plant remains and (possibly) tiny animals.
  • Separation of soils into their components.
  • The absorption and percolation of water in soils and how that relates to the retention of rainwater in the ground.
  • The connection between soils and plant growth.
  • Root growth in different soils.
  • Identification of their local soil components.


Students are assessed in a variety of ways, from the more formal (standardized tests) to the less formal (observations, daily work, and homework). In General Studies, spelling tests, math chapter tests, and student-teacher conferencing are also types of assessments used to glean a snapshot of a particular student at any given time. In both General and Jewish Studies, assessments are used as information for progress reports, differentiation and creating instructional groups. Assessments are also used to inform instruction. In Judaic Studies informal assessments include observation of class participation during tefillah, Hebrew speaking and listening activities during Torah and Judaic Studies discussions, as well as analysis of verbal, written, and creative expression. Cooperative, social, study, and behavioral skills are also tracked in both General and Judaic Studies.

Library, Music, Art, PE, and Dance Schedule

Specialist time will be Library on Mondays, P.E. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Art on Wednesdays, and Music on Wednesdays and Fridays. On Wednesdays and Fridays please make sure your child dresses appropriately (i.e. no flip flops, etc.) for P.E.


Review and Expand: Book care, borrowing versus owning, shelf markers, finding interesting books, title-author-illustrator, fiction versus nonfiction, alphabetical order. During this time we also read aloud some fun books about the library.

Library Sections: What are these sections and where are they located: Everybody Books, I Can Read, Chapter – Series, Fiction, Nonfiction (are Fiction and Nonfiction really such clear categories?), Biography, Graphic Novels, Jewish Holidays, Jewish (Everybody, Biography, Fiction, Nonfiction), Hebrew (Everybody, Biography, Fiction, Nonfiction).

Book Labels and Parts of a Book: Students learn to identify cover, spine, and title page, spine labels, and call numbers.

Friendship: During this unit, we read aloud and discuss a book that focuses on some kind of social dilemma such as teasing, exclusion, jealousy, expressing anger, recognizing other’s feelings, etc. In addition to a core group of books designed for this type of learning, I may add books that specifically apply to issues that I know a particular student or group of students may be facing. Discussion encourages students to relate to all of the characters involved in the stories and to examine the feelings and choices they made. Sometimes we discuss how the topics raised by the story may apply to students’ lives.

Book Awards:We learn about the Caldecott and Newbery Awards while highlighting certain authors.

Review and Expand Dewey: At this level, students learn that nonfiction books are arranged by the Dewey Decimal System and students use the ten basic classifications.

Library Check-out: Students learn about the SJCS and public library systems for checking out books and other media.


Listening and Appreciation

  • listening and discussing the story told in musical compositions
  • revisiting major instrumental groups
  • introducing relationship of size of instrument to pitch
  • continuing exposure to classical composers & their work
  • beginning to identify the relationship between basic music concepts and the elicited
  • responses one has to music

Creative Expression & Movement

  • continuing to use music as a catalyst for verbal & non-verbal storytelling
  • increasing repertoire of folk dances
  • introducing improvisation with hand percussion and diatonic improvisation with marimbas
  • extending experiences with translating music concepts to the body & visa versa

Music Concepts

  • revisiting basic music vocabulary: steady beat, tempo, dynamics, up & downward movement of pitch, steps & leaps
  • comparing difference between steady beat & rhythm
  • introducing notation of rhythms of chants (i.e. nursery rhymes) with syllabic identifiers & manipulative materials (i.e. sticks)
  • extending understanding of note value (quarter, eight, half, rest)
  • introducing AB, ABC form
  • introducing diagramming of melodic shapes

Instrumental Production

  • applying steady beat when playing hand percussion instruments
  • using note value when playing hand percussion instruments
  • introducing note value when playing marimbas


  • singing with a sense of joy
  • increasing repertoire of songs
  • introducing the idea of “musical story maps” as a way of navigating reading sheet music
  • providing opportunities to perform within the class, as well as with the support of the larger school community


The 2nd grade class will be coming into the Art / Science Lab for their art lesson every week, on Mondays, right after lunch recess. With this in mind, please remember to send your child to school in clothes that can get messy. Art is messy! There are smocks available, but children don’t always choose to wear them, or roll back their sleeves far enough. Every child is an artist, and is treated as such in the art room, with respect for their work, ideas, and person. Please ask them about the stories in their pictures; they love to share this expression with others. Also, most of their work will not return home soon after its creation; it will grace bulletins boards in our hallways, and the art teacher will send a folder home at Conference time.

The goals of the art program are the cultivation of art appreciation, development of skills to create and understand art, and most importantly, creativity and problem solving as life-skills that translate to all other disciplines. The SJCS art program cultivates an appreciation of art by providing a broad, multi-media art experience aimed at developing students’ understanding of the arts as a universal form of cultural and personal expression. The program offers an introduction to world art, including art of the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, keeping in mind cultural and historical contexts. As an elementary school subject, the emphasis is to provide a breadth of experience in the art program.

The media used and skills taught in the SJCS art program are based on the National Arts Standards, and include drawing, painting, collage, printmaking, ceramics and sculpture. Each grade works on projects designed to build skills in these mediums, and to provide experiences that create an understanding of process. The creation of art comes from individuals in cultural settings needing to solve “problems,” such as how to create a bowl from coils of clay, and from a human desire towards self-expression. Art requires planning, flexibility, focused work and completion. Each year we discuss the elements of art and principles of design, on levels appropriate to the ages in each grade. Art is also about having fun and experiencing success. Students love to come to the art room to get messy and try new things. Some students struggle in other areas, and feel truly successful in the art room, which gives them a sense of confidence and ability that carries over into other disciplines.

In the fall, 2nd Graders focus on drawing and painting. They will use a variety of media, sometimes mixed, including colored pencils, oil pastels, watercolors, finger paints and tempera. 2nd graders begin to really learn to draw and paint what they see, and it’s very exciting to see this development, but challenging to stop their self-criticism if what they create isn’t what they were trying for. They learn more about the Elements of Art, including the different qualities of Line, expanding on color wheel knowledge and art vocabulary, reviewing and building upon what was introduced in first grade.

Two projects are integrated with their study of rain forests with haMorah Debbie Clement. One is a rain forest collage, another is the foam-plate printmaking project that follows in February, where students will make a drawing of the animal they are researching. There are multiple collage and printmaking experiences in addition to the integrated project, each introducing artists and materials that may be new to them. In spring, the children create hand-molded food with clay, learning to score and slip for strong attachments. Wood assemblage for the second time is one three-dimensional sculpture experience, as is paper folding. Some of the artists we study in 2nd grade are Mondrian, Cassatt, Matisse, and Frank Stella. As we move through the year, the students will be reviewing Visual Thinking Strategies, a program that uses well-known works by Masters as an introduction to art criticism.

P.E. Program

PE Overview

Health Education plays a key role in the development of the whole child. Students will develop movement skills, the ability to work as part of a team, overall fitness, and build character. This year the curriculum will emphasize cooperative games, team sports, health and fitness, and creating an atmosphere of mutual respect through positive language and sportsmanship. By incorporating music and engaging activities, the program encourages students to be healthy and active, and fosters lifelong appreciation of fitness.

Daily Routine and Curriculum at a glance

Students will start each session by entering the gym and sitting in their assigned role spots. At this time there will be a review of previous skills learned as well as an introduction of new skills that the class will be using in the day’s activity. Some of the units we will cover this year include soccer, various takes on dodge ball, softball, handball, gaga, basketball, volleyball, and cricket. PE class will conclude by students returning to their role spots where the day’s lesson will be wrapped up. In addition, students in grades 2nd through 5th will have fitness days once a week. These days will focus more on activities designated to increase the students’ overall fitness level rather than their skill level.

Dress Code: Running shoes and clothing that is comfortable for physical activity are a must. Look through your child’s wardrobe for a couple of t-shirts that can get dirty and sweaty and dedicate them to PE. Footwear such as boots and flip-flops are inappropriate. Remember to dress for PE on the right day. There is a handy reminder below.

2nd Grade–5th Grade: This group of students will become more aware of personal wellness and fitness levels. They begin to take ownership of their activities and set goals. Students will examine how they can improve on chosen activities through technique and effort. Students begin learning games with more complex rules and strategies. Team spirit and Dereh Eretz are fostered through cooperative games and kind play. 2nd and 3rd grade have PE on Tuesday and Thursday.


General studies homework packets are assigned on Mondays and due on or before the following Monday. Homework assignments will usually involve some sort of writing, word study or spelling assignment, and math. The math is differentiated in that it may be a review of current concepts for students who need extra practice, or for students who need more of a challenge, the material may be presented in a more challenging way. Students should also be reading for 15–20 minutes every day as well as practicing math facts. More information will come home soon regarding what level your child should be practicing. Jewish studies homework will be assigned on Tuesdays and will also be due on or before the following Monday. Assignments will include Hebrew literacy activities, and may include other subjects as well. Differentiation will be incorporated into homework assignments by offering activity choices. Students will be required to choose activities that necessitate working at their learning edge. Students who need more of a challenge can choose the more difficult activities and may also do more than the required minimum.


Birthdays are celebrated during snack time on each student’s birthday, or as close to the actual date as possible. Summer birthdays are celebrated in June. We celebrate with songs and a special birthday “interview” with that child. If parents would like to bring in something for the class, that is totally fine. Just let us know ahead of time. Any food items brought into the class must be approved by Jana ahead of time as well.

A Special Request About Arriving in the Morning

Please know that I start teaching promptly at 8:30 AM, and often, at that time, I am going over the schedule and making announcements that are important for the students to know. If a student comes in even a minute or two late, valuable information is missed. Also, if a student comes in late, it can be disruptive to the rest of the class. Activities from 8:15 AM – 8:30 AM vary, but often students will be playing math games, catching up on work, and reading. The 8:15 – 8:30 AM time slot is also beneficial for me to greet your child, check in, and connect before official instruction begins. For all of these reasons, I do request that students are in their seats (homework turned in, backpacks hung up, etc.) at 8:30 AM.


We look to parents as partners in ensuring success for each student. Please e-mail any time with questions, concerns, and / or comments at or If you’d like to talk to by phone, it helps to e-mail for possible times, and then we can arrange a time that we can call you.

Mainly, parents are updated through the Alim Class Blog. This page is updated weekly. Click “Subscribe to our blog via email” in the top left corner. Follow the directions in the window that pops up. Make sure to confirm the request when you receive the email. You will need to re-subscribe even if you subscribed last year. We also may send out class e-mails if parents need to know something that is time sensitive, and homework is also a way that information is communicated to parents. The work your child brings home informs you of the work we are doing in class. In addition, most corrected and graded work is sent home so you can see what your child is doing in school. Please be aware that during the first few months of school, less work in general might come home because we tend to keep more assignments for the first parent / teacher conference in November.