December Newsletter

What we are Learning in Second Grade


As we prepare for winter break we are wrapping up our folktale reading unit. In this unit readers were invited into the world of fairies, princesses, and witches. Students learned that when we read, we embody the character, see through his or her eyes, direct ourselves in that role. By "becoming" the character students were able to determine character traits, archetypes in folktale (villains, heroes, sidekicks), and were also to predict what actions their character might take.

The Common Core State Standards state that second graders need to be able to “recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and to determine their central message, lesson, or moral” and also to “compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures.” Because many contemporary stories have roots in fairy tales, folktales, and fables, having children read fiction and these tales side by side will open up the work of thinking across archetypes, big messages, and the author's intent. The hope is that children will hone their skills of comprehension by critiquing and analyzing multiple perspectives and comparing and contrasting characters, storylines, morals, and lessons.

*We encourage you to checkout and read a folktale with your child over break. Here are some of our favorites:

  • The Boy Who Cried Wolf
  • Why do Mosquitos Buzz in People's Ears
  • The Tortoise and the Hare
  • Little Red Riding Hood
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • Cinderella
  • and any of Aesop's fables


In writing, the students learned about Folktales. Folktales are stories that are based on the traditions and beliefs of people, they usually teach a lesson and often use animal characters to symbolize or represent human qualities. Fairy tales, Fables Myths, Legends and Tall Tales fall under the Folktales umbrella.

We read different versions of popular stories such as The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood. Then, students wrote an opinion story stating which version was their favorite and supplied reasons that supported their opinion. Finally, they had to provide a concluding statement.

We will continue to provide opportunities for our students to write about their opinion on various topics.

Project Based Learning

Second grade is alive these days and not just with lively second graders. We are learning about the life cycles of insects and to do this we are watching different types of bugs as they rotate through their life cycle. Each second grader is responsible for two meal worms that they are observing as they change from active mealworms (larva) into tiny white alien-like pupa. Our painted lady caterpillars got big and then climbed up to the top of their cage and formed chrysalis’s (pupae). We are watching crickets in their adult stage and waiting for them to lay eggs. We will also soon be receiving milkweed bug eggs. We are excitedly waiting to see what will happen next in the life cycle of each of our insects. By the end of the unit your second grader should be able to describe the 3 stage insect life cycle and the 4 stage insect life cycle, using personal experience and examples!

The last week in December during Project Based Learning we will spend two days studying holidays of different countries, religions and cultures. Second graders will rotate around the second grade hall learning about the history, historical figures, events and traditions of different holidays. As part of our second grade standards we will be emphasizing respect and understanding of different cultures and beliefs.


In December we will begin a unit on 2-digit addition and subtraction strategies. Your child will use their understanding of addition and place value to develop fluency with addition and subtraction within 100. Fluency means being able to quickly and efficiently solve mathematical problems.

Students will solve problems by applying their understanding of addition and subtraction fact strategies (like using a 100 board, number lines, or base-ten blocks) and models for addition and subtraction. Your child will develop, discuss, and use efficient, accurate and generalizable methods to compute sums and differences of whole numbers to 1,000 using their understanding of place value and the properties of addition and subtraction.

Students will also learn to select and accurately apply strategies that are appropriate for the context of the problem and the numbers involved. Students will be able to mentally calculate sums and differences for numbers with only tens or only hundreds, leading them to understand why procedures work and how they can generalize strategies they already know to solve new or different types of addition and subtraction problems.

In this unit students will be introduced to the addition and subtraction algorithms for multi-digit numbers. Though some students already know this strategy, we ask parents to refrain from directly teaching students how to "carry" and "borrow" to add and subtract. As students learn preliminary strategies for addition and subtraction of 2-digit or 3-digit numbers they will build a strong basis of understanding of regrouping (instead of carrying) and borrowing before learning how to "go through the motions" of the algorithm. If students learn the algorithms first, they lack understanding of what they're actually doing when regrouping or borrowing. We thank you in advance for your understanding and for encouraging mathematical exploration!