Grade Two

In second grade, boys explore matters such as friendship, cooperation, collaboration, social justice, and personal and cultural differences among people. Boys become aware of how their choices (words and actions) can make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. Through each lesson, boys gain an understanding of others, make real life connections, as well as recognize the importance of living by the Gilman Five.

In Grade Two, your son will study:

Language Arts

Grade Two boys focus on building strong reading comprehension skills as well as increasing their ability to communicate effectively through oral and written expression. Phonemic awareness lessons continue based on the program Project Read. Grammar and spelling are taught and practiced using carefully constructed written paragraphs. The writing process is taught and modeled throughout the year culminating in a research project based on the boys’ study of immigration. Handwriting skills are refined and cursive writing is introduced during the second grade year. Literature includes biography, realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery and humor selections. Poetry is explored through a Poet-in-Residence program in the spring.



The second grade year emphasizes increasing number sense and building confidence with basic mathematical operations. Addition and subtraction with regrouping is introduced and mathematical reasoning becomes a new focus. Units include place value, time, money, graphing, pattern recognition, estimation, operations with addition, subtraction and multiplication, fractions, and basic geometry. The boys are introduced to a number of problem-solving strategies including guess and check, draw a picture, create a chart, and act it out. Their work helps prepare them for more complex problem solving and reasoning activities in third grade.

Social Studies

The second grade year weaves a theme of migration and immigration into all subject matter. The boys practice map and globe skills, learning directions, longitude and latitude lines, continent locations, and more. They then use this information to create a reference book with links on their iPads. The boys learn the reasons behind movement of cultural groups and individuals around the world. They research their own family story and share their rich cultural heritage with each other. Students learn about the process of immigration through a series of guest speakers and a trip to a Naturalization Ceremony at the Baltimore courthouse. They research the process early immigrants went through at Ellis and Angel Islands. This year-long study culminates in a special “Immigration Day” each spring. The boys role play as first class or steerage passengers coming across the ocean to find a new life in America.



Second grade students explore igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rock, looking at erosion and how it changes landscapes. They create a landform that has all the different types of rocks and shows how erosion changes land. They study states of matter, looking at physical and chemical changes. This is a favorite unit for many boys because they get to physically create chemical and physical reactions. Similar to First Grade, they end the year with a unit called “My Universe” which takes them from space, to the atmosphere and weather changes across the globe, to seed dispersal, and garden planting and cultivating. At the conclusion of this unit, students will focus on recycling efforts by local organizations and explore how they can contribute, thereby becoming good stewards of our land.


The philosophy and work of Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967), Hungarian composer and music educator, provide the foundation for the lower school vocal program. The boys develop musical skill in pitch, rhythm, form, and harmony and learn a large repertoire of songs with an emphasis on American folk songs. They grow in competency as choral music performers and music readers, and they listen to classical and folk music from around the world. Folk dancing and children’s musical games are an important component of the lower school program.  Twice a year, all students highlight their performance skills in concerts that include singing, dancing, and instrumental playing.  In addition to their own personal skills and performance, all students are exposed yearly to a concert with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Students continue to work with the pitches learned in first grade, but add the new note re to create a Pentatone (a group of five pitches used in many folk songs around the world). Later in the year, they also add notes that create an Extended Pentatone with some higher and lower pitches that are essential for their grade-level repertoire. Their rhythmic skill set also increases to include the half note and half rest, whole note and whole rest, and dotted half note. The time signature of 3/4 is revealed, and students are introduced to basic conducting skills in 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4 time. Simple rounds and partner songs expose students to the basics of harmony. More emphasis is added to reading, writing, and composing simple melodies and rhythms.


The art program encourages the student to express himself creatively and explore the world from an artist’s vantage point. The lower school art program aims to foster the creative growth of each individual student while exposing him to a wide range of art styles and forms. Through engaging and fun instruction our students are exposed to many aspects of art.  Students learn to use art vocabulary, as well as respond to and  appreciate art. The art program Includes drawing, painting, collage, constructing, printmaking, and ceramics.

Boys explore a variety of well-known artists and art works, including Jacob Lawrence’s “The Migration Series,” Paul Cezanne’s still life paintings, and the iconic “Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh. The boys begin the year looking at landscape in art. They delve into the creative process as they design their own whimsical landscapes using a variety of line and color. Through this project, the boys build their art vocabulary and learn the technique of resist painting. Modern art is explored with the study of Henri Matisse. The boys create a watercolor and marker project entitled “Cat on a Mat.” One of several sculpture projects for the year is a puppet created using mixed media based on the work of Marc Chagall. The results are always as distinctive and original as the young artists themselves.

Physical Education

The lower school physical education curriculum includes physical education, aquatics, and athletics. Aquatics instruction starts in the Prep-One year and continues through Fifth Grade. Kindergarten through Fifth Grade receive a spiraling program of individual and group experiences. Sportsmanship, cooperation, and skill development are given high priority in all elementary grades. Specific traits of the Gilman Five are reinforced such as humility, respect, and excellence.

Second grade boys receive 45 minutes of instruction eight days out of the ten day cycle. Homerooms rotate through swimming every four days. The aquatic component stresses water safety, coordination, and skill development.

French or Spanish

The Modern Language program includes French and Spanish. All boys in a grade study the same language. After Kindergarten, they study that assigned language for the rest of their lower school years. Classes meet six times during a ten day cycle.

The lower school’s foreign language courses are taught using activities that will develop listening comprehension and conversational skills. Culture is used to deliver the content of different curricular units, and exposure to a variety of cultures that speak Spanish or French is an integral part of the program. The goals of the program are to expose the students to the language, to help them develop basic conversational skills, and to introduce them to the language used in its cultural context.The environment of the class is of one of neutrality and at no moment is there a preference for one culture or another.

Grammar lessons and performance of dialogs become part of the curriculum in second grade.

Design and Woodworking

The Design and Woodworking program is designed to include hands-on instruction and learning. The objective of the program is to expose the students to the art of craftsmanship, teaching them how to use basic tools and follow a specific set of instructions to produce objects that are both useful and beautiful. Projects build sequentially based on students’ age and skill. As the ability to manipulate tools gets better, the projects increase in degree of difficulty. This program further builds skills such as perseverance and patience. Safety is a top priority and emphasized in every class.

Boys learn to follow pattern designs, shape and texture wood with rasps, hammer and nails, and join wood pieces. Boys practice keeping physical balance while accomplishing tasks with manipulation tools like a hand saw, file, and abrasive paper. Examples of projects include a cat-whale pencil holder, key holder, and train.


With over 18,000 books, and access to multiple databases and digital content the lower school library, also known as the William Passano Library, offers the boys a rich, global collection of contemporary materials to explore. Students enjoy the library daily, as a space to research and for reading. Weekly classes with the librarian allows the boys to delve into research, explore what makes an award winning story or illustration, and learn about genres that may expand their reading experiences. Additionally, the librarian collaborates with the classroom teachers to support and enrich studies covered throughout the academic year. Building curious, confident, and avid readers who love reading is the goal of the library program.

Grade two boys will explore the characteristics of nonfiction and fiction books, contrasting selections from both genres in a single unit of study. The students also research topics using age appropriate databases.

Special Events

The grade two experience is highlighted by a number of special events including:

  • Experiencing a Naturalization Ceremony
  • Immigration Day
  • Class Play
  • Class trip to the Baltimore Museum of Art
  • Fourth Grade Little Buddies
Baltimore Museum of Art
Baltimore Museum of Art
Immigration Day
Immigration Day
Immigration Day
Immigration Day
Immigration Day
Immigration Day
Immigration Day
Immigration Day
Student-Teacher Ratio  
Kindergarten 7-9:1
Prep-One 7-9:1
First 15-17:1
Second 15-17:1
Third 15-17:1
Fourth 15-17:1
Fifth 15-17:1