Busy and engaged with their many commitments and responsibilities, Second Graders are at the midpoint of the journey through Lower School. Their classrooms are warm and welcoming places designed to build confidence and competence. Each day begins with a morning meeting where students gain a sense of belonging and purpose while practicing life-long social skills.
Second Graders bring boundless energy and enthusiasm to their academic work, whether it’s creating products and marketing them at the economics fair, tackling increasingly challenging text in their reading, preparing for an in-class debate, or practicing addition and subtraction in math warm-ups for the Problem of the Day.
During literacy, students work on the five essential components of reading, which are phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Each day brings time for reading with a teacher, independent reading, read-aloud, and word work. Students work in differentiated groups based on ability, readiness, and interest. Students engage in spelling and phonics activities using a direct, explicit, and multi-sensory approach using the Orton Gillingham method.
Second Graders are truly beginning to see themselves as writers, exploring a wide range of genres and styles of expression. Students learn to understand and apply techniques they discover in the work of published authors. They write narratives about their own experiences in the “small moments” unit and learn to formulate and express an opinion in a formal debate with classmates. They explore and write different types of poetry and also delve into informational writing, describing an area of their own expertise. Second Graders practice nature writing throughout the year, spending time in nature on Outdoor Ed expeditions or on campus as they focus on describing the world using their five senses. Students devote careful attention to revising and editing, aiming to make their writing as clear and as powerful as possible.
The basic foundational skill of computational fluency becomes even more important in Second Grade, as math concepts grow in complexity. In the Bridges math curriculum used throughout the Lower School, children learn important strategies that develop their flexibility, accuracy, and efficiency. They integrate algebraic thinking, practice measurement, learn to tell time, work with money, and explore geometric shapes. These skills are practiced through mental math activities, math games, and hands-on projects. Number Corner, our calendar display, makes math less abstract and promotes conceptual understanding and procedural fluency. The repetitious nature of Number Corner increases mathematical thinking and confidence.
Second Grade Science focuses on: plants and trees, balance and motion, endangered species, and environmental stewardship. Students develop basic research skills to take a deep dive into specific areas of interest. Students work both independently and in groups to puzzle through various challenges and to construct meaning of more abstract concepts.
Second Graders increase their understanding of their place in the community through studying food, religion, economics, and geography. They participate in the International Day of Peace. An economics unit introduces them to important concepts of “needs vs. wants” and entrepreneurship as they create their own businesses to sell products or services at a classroom Economics Fair.
Deeper into the dictionary
With one semester of French and one of Spanish, Second Graders add to their vocabulary by focusing on food and plants. They also deepen their word base in categories that are already familiar. Students also learn more common phrases and commands and learn about heritage as part of their culture study. In Fourth Grade, they choose a language to continue to study for the rest of their journey at ACDS.
Creative expression is on fire in Second Grade, whether in music, art, drama, or technology. Left: The play they perform in the annual Lower School Shakespeare Festival, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, appeals to the poetic nature of this age group.
Second Grade students work on drawing from observation and combining different shapes to create their drawing of a fun Frankenstein in chalk pastels. Students use recycled materials to create sculptures that demonstrate their increasing understanding of how patterns, lines and shapes create art. Students also have the opportunity to practice public speaking as they present their original artworks to their classmates.
Second Graders refine their vocal range and strength as they continue to explore solo and choral music. Songs and activities are chosen to coordinate with the children’s classroom studies. Second Graders also investigate various cultures and genres through songs, movement, and music literature. They build upon their understanding of dynamics, tempo, rhythm, composition, notation and music theory through the use of various instruments.
Second Graders learn about William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and perform this play in the Lower School Shakespeare Festival. Each class session includes exploratory activities such as movement games, guided imagery, improv, and focus and concentration games.
Outdoor & Physical Education
Second Graders are energy in motion. You’ll often find them making snow forts or fairy rings in the wild woods near their classrooms or hiking on the hillside behind campus. Combined PE/Outdoor Ed afternoons balance out their gym classes on campus. Left, the second of their two overnights, a spring adventure in Utah’s red rock landscapes.
Second Grade students engage in a variety of games and skill building to promote a healthy lifestyle and a sense of fair play. Children develop gross motor skills through as they build spatial and body awareness. They learn proper techniques for throwing, catching, kicking and hitting balls. All the activities help build teamwork and confidence. Highlights of the year include canoeing on the ponds and skiing with classmates.
Second Graders camp at Lincoln Creek in the fall, and the highlight of this trip is summiting of a peak near the top of Independence Pass. This hike is challenging and often offers students the opportunity to learn how to hike responsibly in unpredictable weather. They always experience a sense of accomplishment at the summit. In the spring, Second Graders travel to Utah for their first desert experience. They spend three days near Moab. Students hike through canyons and scramble over boulders as they become more at home in the desert.
When it comes to school spirit, nothing beats a Second Grader. Children are fully in the swing of school life and love coming to the upper campus for PE class, arts classes, lunch, or recess. Days are full of small and large adventures as children build the joy in learning that is a hallmark of the Aspen Country Day experience.
Projects & traditions
Second Graders are buddies with the Sixth Graders, often joining up to read, cook, or tidy up the campus together. Second Graders throw themselves into their many projects and presentations with a passion characteristic of their age. A morning at school may find them measuring objects in their classroom for a math project, intensely reading a chapter book aloud, or working in a small group on a business plan for their economics unit.
Lower School Counselor Mary Stokes leads the children in discussions and projects that focus on social-emotional learning. Activities and art projects tie in to the monthly themes ranging from “inclusiveness” to “cooperation.” Mary helps guide children as they strive to find positive ways to work out any misunderstandings. Class meeting is also a dedicated time to review and put into practice the core values of the school that children learn on outdoor education trips: character, respect, responsibility, community, and perseverance.