Advice - Grade Two

Dear Homeschooling Parent,

Think of Grade Two as consolidating all of your child’s learning from Kindergarten and First Grade. LBC continues the pattern of using living books and life experiences starting from the Foundation Year, as well as Grade One.

This year teaches habits such as attentiveness, finishing work, and asking questions, and give a general understanding of the subject areas.

The areas of study for Grade Two include:

  • Bible study
  • An extensive language arts program
  • Science
  • Nature study
  • Art
  • Picture study
  • Geography
  • American history
  • World history
  • Composer study.

Grammar and regular copy work are introduced in Grade Two. Because fluency in oral language is as important as fluency in written language, storytelling remains a key language experience in the Living Books Curriculum.

The Curriculum is based on a set of principles rather than a collection of books—it’s the method not the books. Regular use of the Seven Keys and Six Tools is critical to a living education. If you have a week where nothing seems to be going right, have a look at these guidelines. You’ll likely find it’s almost always a case of straying from these.

Planning for Learning™

LBC uses a 36-week schedule divided into four terms. Each term is eight weeks, with the ninth as a “flex” week. The flex week permits the student to complete unfinished work, the teaching parent to assess learning through end-of-term narration questions, and also allows time for field trips.

You can begin and end each term as it best fits your schedule. You may make copies of the Grade Two Planner included in Part 4 and the Grade Two Support Materials in this Guide. There is also a file for the planner on the Grade Two Resource CD. Print and three-hole punch the pages for a notebook or have your local printer add a comb binder (usually at a very small cost).

On the planner you will see the Flex Week identified, as well as the Six Tools checklist: Narration, Literature, Storytelling, Nature Study, Short Lessons, and Local Resources. To have a better understanding of the Six Tools, read Six Tools of Learning on the Grade Two Resource CD.


The use of narration is the most important aspect of the Living Books Curriculum. It is the means students’ use to take up the ideas presented in living books and make them their own. A student of Charlotte Mason expressed it this way, “We read; we narrate; then we know ” If your child is new to the use of narration, begin with very short narrations.

“Telling Back: The Art of Narration'” found on the Grade Two Resource CD describes using narrations effectively. But it will be up to you to decide how much narration your child can accomplish during the year. We encourage frequent and consistent narration.

Narration Notebooks™

In 2008, LBC began including Narration Notebooks™ for written narration. These notebooks are found on the resource CD that accompanies the manual. The Narration Notebooks™ are used by you to transcribe your child’s oral narration or by the child to write and draw in. Each notebook is specific to a particular book. For example, American History Stories, Volume II has its own notebook provided, as does Peeps at Many Lands: Ancient Egypt.

End-of-Term Narration Questions

Each term is an eight-week period with the ninth week as a flex week to complete any unfinished work and to assess your child’s learning with end-of-term narrations. The questions provided are meant to be suggestions; you may want to formulate questions that more closely reflect the work your child has done during the past term.

We include end-of-term narration questions for two reasons. First, our research of Charlotte Mason’s syllabus for the Parents National Education Union, used for over 80 years, showed that each term ended with “narrations” as a means of assessing student progress. Second, teaching parents who are using Living Books Curriculum have asked for assessment tools for their own planning and to demonstrate learning where necessary to state and local school officials .

A look at topics and subjects for Second Grade:

  • Term-by-term overview of each subject, and a week-by-week schedule that details how to use the literature to teach each subject. Flexible scheduling using the Living Books Curriculum-trademarked “Planning for Learning” method which uses a 36-week school year divided into four terms.
  • Bible Study: Scripture memorization and a study of great heroes of the faith.
  • Reading Fluency: Some practice to assure reading at level.
  • Language Arts: Includes storytelling, penmanship with copy work, poetry, grammar and many books for reading aloud.
  • American History: Revolutionary War and the Founding of the Nation, with emphasis on the men and women who made the new nation possible.
  • World History: A guided exploration into the history, people, and culture of Ancient Egypt.
  • Science: Explore four strands—earth, physical, living, and health through literature and hands-on science activities and experiments.
  • Geography: United States geography, state-by-state.
  • Composer Study: A study of the orchestra and its instruments.
  • Nature Study: A guided exploration into nature and the use of a nature journal, with emphasis on birds.
  • Picture Study: A study of the artist and the artistic process through the paintings themselves.
  • Grade Two Resource CD: Packed with maps, documents, helpful articles, and a printable planner.

What is this method and how do you do use it in your homeschool day? Here is a snapshot of the method which will help you begin to see the possibilities for your homeschool: Seven Keys and Six Tools.

If you are new to Charlotte Mason education and your child’s early years didn’t hold all the things you’d hoped for, no worries. Truly! You can begin now. Children are wonderfully resilient and they know the genuine article (living books) when it is given them, just like the daffodil knows the sun. Have a look at my article on “Planning a CM Day.”


Living Books Curriculum does not provide a math program. We investigated several math programs and found a few we liked. However, after interviewing many parents, we found that each had their own preference for a program. We did allow space on the Week-by-Week guide for entering lesson numbers, etc for the mathematics program you do choose.  Additionally, when appropriate in other areas of study we include a math-related activity.

Language Arts

Reading Fluency

In Grade Two, your child may be ready to move beyond decoding words to reading fluency. This will not be true of all children. It is vitally important to follow your child’s needs in this area. Too often the strain of hearing others say he “ought to be reading by now” results in a parent pressuring a child to read before he is developmentally ready.

Research shows that a child’s ability to near-focus does not fully develop until age five, or sometimes later. Research also shows that boys develop language skills later than girls. If we force our children to do an intensive task like learning to read before they are ready, they often develop a distaste for books or weary too soon at the task of reading. Reading should be a joy. For an excellent discussion of this topic, see Better Late than Early: A new approach to your child’s education by Raymond and Dorothy Moore (Reader’s Digest Assn., 1989) .


Learning to use a pen or pencil to write in print, and later cursive, is a huge developmental task and often emerges along with skill in reading. As in Grade One, we use Penny Gardner’s book Italics: Beautiful handwriting for children. Penmanship should be done no more than ten minutes a day. Your child will be doing many other things throughout the learning year that will develop hand-eye coordination. Too much near-focus work can weary young eyes and minds

Copy work is important to the process of learning to write because it provides not only practice in writing, but gives your child something to write about. Meaningless, repetitive exercises in printing do not engage a child’s sense of beauty, nor does it build the habit of doing things well.


One of the unique features of the Living Books Curriculum is the strong and early use of orality. Orality refers to speaking and listening; just as literacy refers to reading and writing. Grade Two uses folktales with a simple plot and some Bible stories as the means for developing your child’s oral language skills including tips for helping your child gain confidence in telling stories and have fun at the same time.


Each year the Living Books Curriculum includes at least one book of poetry. Learning to enjoy and understand poetry engages the heart and mind. Best of all, it teaches us to hear the music of language.

Your child will take his cue from you as to whether poetry is worthwhile. Tell your child if you had not become familiar with poetry in your early year and learn together. It is a great delight to catch the meaning of a poem.

Grammar and Spelling

Grade Two grammar instruction begins with LBC’s exclusive edition of Primary Language Lessons. The guide has high quality literature and picture study to teach language and grammar. The author, Emma Serl’s use of this method parallels the work of Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) who advocated high-quality literature as a pathway to learning. Miss Mason taught that children relish well-written, well-told books and model them in their speech and writing. By following this example, our children learn from great authors and artists rather than dry textbooks. What could be better?

Miss Mason recommended that spelling does not begin until Grade Three. Your child is still developing skills for letter and word recognition. The focus in Grade Two is on these skills. Later, your child will learn to spell “in context”—right along with his reading.


The Living Books Science curriculum is designed to prepare your child for high school-level work and beyond. It is a structured adventure into basic science concepts. As with all our other subjects in the Living Books Curriculum there are many living books used which put abstract concepts into context.

There is an underlying process at work with your child that will result in a spirit of scientific inquiry and an ability to do advanced studies in different branches of science. Former Secretary of Education William Bennett’s book The Educated Child (Free Press, 2000), said that a person literate in science exhibits the following character traits: curiosity, formulation of testable hypotheses, experimentation, reliance on evidence, adherence to rules of logic, skepticism balanced by openness to new ideas, objectivity, intellectual honesty, and perseverance (p 350). This is the essence of Living Books science education.

Each year the science curriculum addresses four major strands: life, physical, earth, and health. Within the four major strands we touch on these eleven themes: plants, animals, ecology, matter, energy, technology, the earth, weather, space, the human body, and well-being.

Often Asked Questions

What if I want to teach multiple children with this teaching guide?

What are the books and subjects covered in Grade Two?

How can you teach science with literature instead of textbooks?

Why do you use storytelling in your curriculum?

When should I begin narration?

What is a living book?

Living Books Curriculum uses books that are considered “living” according to Charlotte Mason’s guidelines: the books must “warm the imagination, nurture thinking, and communicate knowledge mind-to-mind”. Children require books that are living in order to develop to their fullest capacity. The high quality of thought expressed in great literature breeds like thought in the child. When the books are many, varied, and living, the child is able to adopt the ideas in them just as a plant takes nutrients from the soil.

“For this reason we owe it to every child to put him (or her) in communication with great minds that he may get at great thoughts…and the only vital method of education appears to be that children should read worthy books, many worthy books.” A Philosophy of Education, p. 12.


Here to help

We’re here to help. Living Books Curriculum fully supports our curriculum though email and a Facebook Community. We invite you to join the growing community of parents using this wonderful way to home educate. Questions? Email me at

All the best,


P.S. 100% of the proceeds of your purchase help us help children in Africa to receive a living education. Jim and Sheila Carroll’s non-profit, Worldwide Educational Resources, has seven schools at this time, educating nearly 750 students. The Carroll’s non-profit was founded in 2000.