Second grade constantly reinforces the idea that stories are central to cultural development, draws attention to the relationship between humans and our environment, and appreciates the diversity of human culture.
The year begins with a study of the origins of the Olympic games, ancient Greek myths, and an introduction to the Special Olympics (complete with a medal-winning guest speaker!). This unit supports children’s flourishing reading skill as they present in front of an audience, and helps them understand the importance of health and wellness for everyone (not just athletes). The balance of intellectual and kinesthetic “smarts” that students learn and apply during this unit makes it a great way to start the year!
As students head into the holiday season, they examine how different cultures use light as part of their celebrations and traditions. Children identify areas of cultural uniqueness–and commonality–that form the foundation for global understanding and stewardship. Naturally, this also serves as a time for the class to reflect on the Quaker idea that we each have an Inner Light, and to celebrate the talents of our classmates.
After winter break, they undertake an in-depth, interdisciplinary study of Japan. Children expand their understanding of the globe, and discover similarities and differences between their own culture and Japan’s, including homes, food, clothing, work, language, art, religion, and traditions. After reading Allen Say’s picture books and trying kamishibai (a picture story-telling tradition), they visit a traditional Kyoto house at the Boston Children’s Museum. After creating suminagashi, practicing Japanese calligraphy, and making fish kites, students conduct a research project and presentation for families and friends.
In the spring, second graders watch the documentary That’s A Family! and begin a discussion of the many kinds of families in modern society. With carefully curated literature and activities, they explore the important roles families play in society. Students will share special stories and traditions from their own families and end the unit with a celebration of the families in our class. Throughout this unit, students will explore how being a member of a family contributes to one’s personal identity.Inquire