July 6, 2012

Book Review: What Your 2nd Grader Needs to Know (Part 3)

Welcome to the last installment of my book review of What Your Second Grader Needs to Know.  If you missed the first two posts, here is part one and part two.  I'm attempting to compare and contrast this book to the curriculum we use.

   Today I'm going to look at Math and Science.  Ambleside Online, which I use, doesn't specify a math curriculum, and there are already blogs out there discussing how "CM" the different math programs are, so I won't get into that.  WYSGNTK (whew, that's a long title, even abbreviated!) does a good job covering math, and the scope seems reasonable for a year.  Here is some of what is covered in the book:
  • basic addition and subtraction to 18, as well as how to add/sub 3 digit numbers
  • beginning multiplication, up to fives
  • practice word problems, geometry, fractions and money (which were all introduced in first grade)
  • skip count by 3's, odds, and evens, 50's and 100's (2's, 5's and 10's should have been covered in K or 1st)
  • number words to 100
  • telling time to 5 minutes
  • measuring length and weight
  • recognize #'s to 1000 and learn to compare (< > =)
  • shapes, symmetry, and locations
   As with most elementary math, these lessons can be done almost entirely without a workbook of any kind, using real life applications and oral work.  This is great, especially for pencil-phobic kids like mine.  There is a great more detail in the book then what I've listed here, but it gives you a general idea.  WYSGNTK could be worth buying for this chapter alone, in order to avoid purchasing a math curriculum!

   For science (nature study) in the elementary years, AO focuses on putting the child in touch with nature as directly and as often as possible, as well as using living books about nature, such as the Burgess Bird and Animal books.  Through these books and observing our natural world, I think AO does a fantastic job of sufficiently covering science.
   WYSGNTK covers quite a lot in science, so I'm sure much of it is meant to be touched lightly and gone into deeper in later years.  It goes over tools, simple machines, and engineering which I would have categorized as technology, but there wasn't a chapter for that.  It also goes over the human body, food groups and nutrition, which I would categorize as health.  It covers how to use a compass and others ways to find North, which I consider geography.  In addition, it covers the following science topics:
  • life cycles and season
  • biology - botany, zoology
  • cells
  • definitions of the main branches of science, as well as what those scientist do
  • famous scientists - Galileo, Edison, Nightingale and Mae Jemison (another name that was new to me!)
Overall, I recommend that any parent interested in their child's education should take a look at Hirsch's What Your __ Grader Needs to Know series of books.  You can use them for after-schooling, as a homeschooling resource, or to compare what your child is learning at public school and supplement their summer learning.

To see another analysis of the Charlotte Mason method, Letters from Nebby has just written about this unique approach to home education, and mentions how with CM, there is no set curriculum or core standards, but that each child will take away what he needs.  


  1. Geography is actually considered a branch of science. I remember being surprised at WKU when a few people took that as one of their science requirements. But it just goes to show that subjects don't always fit into tidy boxes.

    Sciences is probably the subject where I have been most lax at this point. We have covered a lot of historical science (discoverers and inventors) but not very many science facts. I've kind of just let science be something we discussed as the kids had questions.

    Piper and Katie have probably done more animal and plant study just because they've just been more naturally curious...Katie used to be addicted to "Diego". We've looked up tons of information on Wikipedia and YouTube, and lately I've been bringing home big bags of Easy Reader non-fiction books about animals. (My kids only want real facts and real pictures...no stories or illustrations.)

    There is one area of science where my kids probably excel...female reproductive science and prenatal development. I don't know why, but that subject keeps coming up at my house. LOL

  2. I used this series for Kindergarten. It's nice in that it gives the basics and then you can implement how they learn those basics. I was just learning about CM at the time and wish I had used her principles more. My way was a little dry and boring. :-)


I love to hear from you! Feel free to link to your own blog or Pinterest page- I'll check it out!