Second-grade students continue to study reading. You may need to do more explicit phonics, review what you learned and practice with new letter-sound patterns. Decoding (i.e. turning letters into speech sounds) should be almost automatic for most children by the end of this year, allowing them to concentrate on meaning. The overall goal is to be able to read (aloud and silently) second-grade texts, such as Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parish, Arthur books by Lillian Hoban and second-grade volumes in such nonfiction series as I Can Read and Let’s Read and Find Out. Second graders also have plenty to write. They develop speaking skills by telling stories aloud, participating in dramatic activities and in class discussions. Second graders, among other things, do the following:

 Reading and Comprehension

  • continue to sound out words (e.g., rabbit, caterpillar, motorcycle)
  • accurately read single-syllable and most two-syllable words {e.g., boy, tough, night, apple, riddle, basket)
  • recall incidents, characters, facts, and details of texts
  • answer what, how, why, and what-if questions about readings
  • discuss similarities in characters and events from different stories
  • retell stories and explain information learned from a text in their own words
  • read outside of school at least fifteen minutes daily


  • write brief stories, poems, letters, descriptions, and reports
  • with help, write compositions with a beginning, middle, and end
  • practice using paragraphs
  • with help, revise work for clarity and edit for spelling and mechanics
  • practice writing neatly

Spelling and Vocabulary

  • correctly spell words containing spelling patterns studied so far
  • learn and review spelling rules (e.g., the f sound is sometimes spelled ph, as in “phone”)
  • begin using dictionary to check spelling and word meanings
  • learn some common contractions (e.g., can’t, I’m) and abbreviations {e.g., Mr., Ms.).
  • provide synonyms (e.g., happy, glad) and antonyms {e.g., hot, cold) for given words

Grammar and Usage

  • identify subjects and predicates in simple sentences
  • learn what nouns are; how to make singular nouns plural
  • study correct usage of verbs; how to change from present to past tense
  • learn what adjectives are; use adjectives to compare by adding er and est
  • practice using capital letters, periods, question marks, exclamation points
  • learn to use commas in dates and addresses


  • read and listen to poems such as Christina Rossetti’s “Hurt No Living Thing,” Nancy Byrd Turner’s “Lincoln,” Clement C. Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas”
  • read and listen to stories such as “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” and the African tale “Talk”
  • read nonfiction prose (e.g., accounts of real-life heroes)
  • read Greek myths {e.g., “How Prometheus Brought Fire,” “Oedipus and the Sphinx”)
  • read American tall tales {e.g., Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, Casey Jones)
  • learn more basic literary terms (e.g., myth, limerick)
  • tell and write their own stories

In a good second grade classroom, you might see children:

  • reading a tall tale about Stormalong and then discussing how the author exaggerated actions and characters
  • reading “The Blind Men and the Elephant” (a fable from India) and writing a moral for the story
  • reading sets of words and choosing the ones that don’t belong (e ., milk, ham, paper, cake)
  • writing letters to first graders telling them what they enjoyed learning in the first grade and what they’re doing in second grade
  • reading stories they’ve written to the class, then revising their drafts after hearing classmates’ comments about what is unclear or missing
  • researching and writing labels for specimens the class has collected outside (e.g., leaves, insects, nests)

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