Author Archive

Poetry in Second Grade

Written by ValerieW. Posted in 2nd Grade

Poetry image

In Second Grade we  just wrapped up our unit on personal narratives, ending with a whole second grade celebration of our published work.

Now we are starting our unit on poetry.  We began the unit asking  the children to write a poem, and in many cases their first thought was to find rhyming words for the end of each line, writing a poem which sounds  like a song.

Yet as we  progress through our unit, basing our lessons on a very inspiring book, Poetry: Powerful Thoughts in Tiny Packages , by Lucy Calkins and Stephanie Parsons, the children will come to learn that, first and foremost, being a poet involves looking at the world with a poet’s eyes – – that is, looking  at the world in fresh, new ways. We can create significant poems when we have meaningful ideas to write about.  By looking at life closely and carefully, poets find topics to write about that mean a lot to them, topics that give them “big feelings.”  Poets  find ways in which to anchor these feelings in small objects or details, making pictures that they paint with words, which shows rather than tells  you just how they perceive the world.  The second graders will learn how to be think and act like poets!

In addition, the second graders will use their poet’s ears as they listen to the sounds of poetry.  They will learn how to find and use  precise language, striving to find the perfect words to make their ideas as clear and powerful as possible.   They will experiment with comparisons and point of view, and practice looking at pattern and repetition to enhance the meaning of their poems.  We hope to see lots of growth in the children as the unit progresses.

We highly recommend the following websites.  These poets have inspired last year’s second graders, who  read their poems with open minds and open hearts.  We hope you will help foster your child’s  appreciation of poetry!   poems of Amy Ludwig Van Derwater   poems of Zoë Ryder White  poems of Kristine O’Connell George

The Second Grade Team

Suggestions for holiday activities (2): literacy games

Written by ValerieW. Posted in 2nd Grade

Suggestions for holiday activities (2)


Dear Parents,

 These weeks off are a time for rest and play!  But if you would like some ideas for helping your child with literacy, here are some links with great online activities and games for your perusal.  The list is long, and please remember these are just suggestions!


These websites have loads of fun activities, in reading and in math:


For online reading:  over 42, 000 classic books, free, online!  For all ages  250 free books online, for kids of all ages many free books for kids online  a number of free online stories for children requires subscription.  Please ask Emma and Valerie for your child’s reading level to know which books to read.


Vocabulary: for all ages!  For each correct answer, the website donates 10 grams of rice to the World Hunger Programme.  Note:  this website is addicting!


Writing: ideas for a holiday writing journal December writing journal prompts


For practicing high frequency words (sight words):


Create your own crossword puzzles!


Create your own handwriting practice worksheets:

For other language arts activities:   (Mad Libs!)

 On another note, we wanted to give you some information about a new educational program that the  Learning Support Department at BFIS School has been recently working with.  It’s called  Nessy Reading, and it is an online program that promotes literacy development.  The Learning Support Department is very impressed by this fun, engaging program which uses the very same instructional techniques that the Department teaches to those receiving learning support.

Unfortunately  the learning support program does not have the budget to pay for individual memberships for each student who would benefit from the program. But, if you would like to get a subscription for your child, the LS Department can help facilitate his or her work on Nessy.

The price for a one year subscription is 25 euros, which would be a great holiday gift.  Check it out at


So, now you have a long list of ideas for optional homework.  What’s really most important, though, is to remember to treasure the time spent with your child!


Warm wishes from the Second Grade Team!!

Suggestions for holiday activites (1): math games

Written by ValerieW. Posted in 2nd Grade

Suggestions for holiday activities (1)



Dear Parents,

Here are some fun online math games  to play with your child over vacation.  As you play the games listed below, please remember to ask your child to explain his or her thinking.  

You can ask:

  • Can you show me your answer in words, numbers, and with a picture?  
  • How did you get the answer?  
  • Are there any other ways of getting the answer?  
  • Imagine I’m a kid and I don’t understand how to do it.  Can you teach me?


Play the game  Base Ten Blocks

Play the game  Base Ten Blocks

Play the game  Place Value:  Show Expanded Numbers!

I Like…numbers to 25

Numbers on the Ten Frame

Play Odd & Even Interactive Games

Let’s Play Base Ten Bingo

3 Ways of Expanded Form

Expanded Form with 3 –digits

Compare Numbers Game – Level I

Compare Numbers

Skip Counting by 10’s to 300

Skip Counting by 5s to 100

Skip Counting by 100s

Skip Counting Backwards by 5

Skip Counting Backwards by 10

Fairies in the Fog

Help the fairies find the butterfly with the hidden number counting by 10’s

Help the fairies find the butterfly with the hidden number counting by 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, 5’s, 10’s, 100’s


Please read our second holiday activity post, with literacy ideas!


The Second Grade Team

Social Studies: Japan

Written by ValerieW. Posted in 2nd Grade

It will come as no surprise to you that our classrooms are full of Japan enthusiasts!  Japan is an absolutely fascinating country, and the second grade children have been learning so much about it.

To begin with, we focused on  Japan´s geography and physical features,  and later we focused on  Japanese values and beliefs and their connection to the natural environment.  The children have been engaged with the information through personal question asking, visual representation of natural phenomena, mini-research projects, and an introduction to expository writing. Our unit is focused on inquiry-based learning, and the children demonstrated incredible skill for question asking, information transfer, and reflection.

In November we had  two visits from Casa Asia!  Our first visit was with Yoshihira Hioki, who told the children a typical  Japanese folk tale in a hilarious way!  He also showed the children how to make a simple game out of paper, in which two players (gently!) imagine they are Sumo wrestlers, and try to make their opponent’s paper wrestler fall to the floor.

The second visit was with with Mihoko Ono,  who spoke to us about Japanese folktales, and and told the children a folktale explaining how the Japanese archipelago was formed,  The children also used  Japanese stencil and collage techniques to make  beautiful murals.  Take a look at the wall behind Emma’s classroom to see the gorgeous maps of Japan that the children made!

We have discussed tectonic plates, volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. We are paying special attention to Mt. Fuji, looking at it from different perspectives such as Japanese folktales, photographs and paintings, factual information, and its geologic origin. We have also talked about the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011, tragically affecting so many thousands of people.   In studying Japan, we  have talked long about empathy, its importance in Japanese society and in our own lives.

Your child has probably been  asking you to help him or her make  origami paper cranes.  They have been inspired to do so by reading  the story, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, by Eleanor Coerr (1977).  It is a non-fiction story which tells the tale of Sadako Sasaki who was two years old at the time the United States dropped an atom bomb Hiroshima.  She developed leukemia, and while at a nursing home  started folding origami cranes, in hopes that, according to a Japanese legend, she would be cured if she folded one thousand cranes.

Tragically, Sadako was only able to fold 644 before she died in 1955.  Her friends and family folded the rest of the cranes, some of which were buried with her.  Upon her death, Sadako’s friends and schoolmates published a book of Sadako’s letters, using the funds raised to build a memorial to her and so many other children who died from the bomb.