2nd Grade Language Arts Enrichment


Selected students from all three 2nd grade classes are pulled from class once a week, during their normally scheduled language arts time on
Fridays from 9:30-10:15 a.m.

  1. Students will learn to actively participate in literary analysis through the use of the "Shared Inquiry" model of discussion pioneered by the Junior Great Books program. 
  2. Students will learn to express opinions on questions that have more than one possible answer, and support their opinions with evidence from the text.
  3. Students will learn to read dramatically, with appropriate voice inflection and pacing.
  4. Students will learn the vocabulary of literary analysis, including character, protagonist, personification, theme, foreshadowing, mood, simile, metaphor, and genre.
  5. Students will have opportunities to do critical and creative writing in response to the literature they read.pulled from class once a week, during their normally scheduled language arts time. 

Curriculum Update - Spring 2015

Session "Brave Little Tailor" by the Brothers Grimm, translated by Ralph Manheim (Junior Great Books - Series 3)

The story teaches subtle and valuable lessons about having faith in oneself and the importance of using intelligence and wit instead of physical force to solve problems.

Our session discussed influential fairy tale authors beginning with Charles Perrault in the late 1600s, the Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Anderson in the 1830s. We studied the key elements of many fairy tales (lesson, good character, evil character, magical element, obstacles, and a happy ending). CLICK HERE for more background information about the authors, the story, and the times in which they were writing.

We evaluated significant vocabulary and discussed several critical questions including the following: Is cunning a sufficient substitute for bravery? Is it okay to exaggerate your achievements? What are the characteristics of a hero?

Students will list criteria they think they should have and then evaluate the "brave" little tailor and main characters from other stories we have read to decide if they meet our criteria for heroes.

"Ooka and the Honest Thief" Japanese folktale as told by
I.G. Edmonds  (Junior Great Books - Series 3)
Another opportunity to debate heroic qualities and the "moral of the story" with additional high level questions: Can there be such a thing as an "honest thief"?  Is it okay to steal if you promise to "pay it back"?

Students were also introduced to the concept of an oxymoron - a statement that appears to contradict itself (alternate definition:
a figure of speech which brings two contradictory terms together)
. Examples: "honest thief," "bad luck," "big baby," "awfully nice," "common differences," "fully empty," etc.  See more examples on this web site: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/oxymoron-examples.html

Curriculum Update - Fall 2014

Session 1 - "Jack and the Beanstalk"

Objectives –

1) Students will learn the vocabulary of literary analysis: personification
2) Students will learn to express opinions on questions that have more than one possible answer, and support their opinions with evidence from the text.
3) Students will consider ideas such as "moral of the story" (as an introduction to theme)
4) Students will consider the attributes we usually recognize in a "hero" and whether or not Jack meets this standard.


1) Students read and discuss the "Jack and The Beanstalk" story, considering Jack's motivations for climbing the beanstalk each time he goes up. We ask, "Why does Jack climb the beanstalk the third time? This forces students to go back in the story to see what motivated him the first and second time to see what might have changed when he goes up the third time.
2) Students debate the notion of a "moral of the story" since Jack is able to steal and "get away with murder" (literally) on his way to living happily ever after with a beautiful princess.
3) We discuss that some literature seeks merely to entertain, some seeks to educate, and some fulfills both of those missions.
4) We also discuss the qualities we would expect of a "hero" and whether or not Jack meets this criteria.
5) Key vocabulary terms covered: theme (the "big idea" or lesson of a story), optimist (in relation to Jack's world view), pessimist (Jack's mother), personification (giving human qualities to something that is not human - speech, thoughts, emotions, and human-like behaviors and movements), and foreshadowing (hints about future negative events).

Session 2 

Finish "Jack and the Beanstalk" lesson.

Sessions 3 and 4"Jack" Revisited - "Jack and the Bean Tree" from "Jack Tales"
We read a version of the Jack and the Beanstalk from a collection of "Jack Tales."  These stories were collected from the oral storytelling tradition in Appalachia.  Students compare and contrast differences between the version we read and this version, "Jack and the Bean Tree."  We discuss dialect (how people from certain areas of the country speak) and figures of speech (expressions that are unique to a particular group of people that have a meaning other than the literal meaning of the words contained in that expression).  Students discussed how the major theme of the story remained the same even though some of the events in the plot were different in different versions of the story.

Session 4 

"The Master Cat" by Charles Perrault (Junior Great Books - Series 3)
We will read and discuss this story (a version of the "Puss in Boots" story), comparing and contrasting with Jack and the Beanstalk in terms of heroic qualities and "moral of the story." 
The Master Cat, published in a pioneering collection of fairy tales in 1697, tells the story of the division of property after a miller's death which leaves his youngest son with nothing but the granary cat.  Disappointed, the son contemplates eating the animal, but the cat bargains with him, promising him riches in return for a bag and a pair of boots. Though dubious, the miller's son goes along with him and provides the items, and gains wealth and prestige through a series of tricks.

Central discussion question: Is survival a sufficient excuse for acting immorally?  We will build up to that question using second grade vocabulary, through questions about whether there is a lesson learned from this story - that trickery and deceit pay off more rapidly and handsomely than do hard work and talent? Or that clothes make the man? Or that there is great advantage in receiving a large inheritance? We also discuss whether all stories have to have a moral or lesson. 

For more information about Charles Perrault click here.

Session 9 "Nail Soup" Swedish folktale as told by(Junior Great Books - Series 2)
"Nail Soup" is a Swedish folktale that strongly resembles the story "Stone Soup" sometimes covered in preschool classes.  This story is about a traveler looking for shelter and food. He convinces an old woman who really doesn't want to share her house or her food stores with the man is eventually persuaded to do both.  Students will learn the difference between static and dynamic characters, as the traveler is static (staying the same - true to his character and persistent in his goals - over the course of the story), while the old woman is dynamic because her attitudes, behaviors, and actions change over the course of the story. We use the story to discuss the proverb "Can't judge a book by its cover" and persuasive techniques.  We also discuss how certain folktales show up in different cultures because of a theme or "lesson" that many different cultures believe is important for children to learn.
Homework: Study for Literary Terms Quiz.



Session 12 (Jan. 3)

"Jack and the Varmints" (from The Jack Tales)

Mr. Kendall read "
Jack and the Varmints" (from The Jack Tales). This lesson is another opportunity to practice compare and contrast skills as this "Jack Tale" mirrors the plot and theme of "The Brave Little Tailor."  We also revisit the "characteristics of a hero" discussion to see how this Jack stacks up to those standards.

Session 13 (Jan. 10) "The Jackal and the Partridge" - Punjabi folktale as told by Flora Annie Steele (Junior Great Books - Series 2)
Read and discuss a Punjabi folk tale, "The Jackal and the Partridge," which introduces the notion of a "trickster" character and centers on the theme of friendship and how it should be defined.  We will also see if students can draw a comparison to a previous character who is a "trickster" (the "Master Cat" or the "Brave Little Tailor"). Students are introduced to different types of "folk tales" (legend, tall tale, myth, and fairy tale) and will study these genres in more detail in a major third grade unit in the regular classroom curriculum.

Session 14 (Jan. 17) "The Law of the Jungle" by Rudyard Kipling
This session begins a study of Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) and his poem The Law of the Jungle in the Second Jungle Book. You remember well the story of Mowgli, the Man-Cub raised by wolves in the jungles of India. In this poem, Kipling speaks about the law of the jungle for a wolf, that no matter how much a wolf contributes to the pack, the wolf is only as strong as the pack it serves. In a pack of wolves, these elegant and effective hunters must work together in harmony in order to survive. They have refined the art of pack hunting to such perfection that they can defeat a foe many times their individual size.

We discuss Kipling’s life and contributions to literature and some of the distinctive features of his short stories and poems for children. In 1907, Kipling was the first English language writer to win (and the youngest recipient of) the Nobel Prize in Literature. We also reviewed vocabulary and discussed the poem’s message. Homework: Please read the poem again at home to ensure that your child has understood the meaning of Kipling’s Law of the Jungle. Then help them memorize their assigned lines.

Session 15 (Jan. 24) - Kipling Continued
Recite memorized lines from "The Law of the Jungle" (first 4 and last 4 lines) and

 Students were assigned two 4-line stanzas each to memorize.

Begin "How the Camel Got His Hump," by Rudyard Kipling (from the Just So Stories)In this story all the other animals are all busily working to help Man, but the camel is " 'scutiatingly idle" and refuses to work, but stands around admiring himself and insulting the other animals. After three days the other animals get the help of a wizard who punishes the vain and self-important camel by giving him a huge hump on his back that will allow him to store food and water for three days, so that he can work three days without rest to make up for those first three lazy days at the beginning of the world "when everything was so new and all."  We will discuss the role folktales played in early cultures who were trying to explain the world around them and how Kipling stretches this type of tale with his invented words and other language play to make his entertaining Just So Stories. 

Sessions 16 (Jan. 31) "The Law of the Jungle" by Rudyard Kipling
Students recited their their assigned two 4-line stanzas but several students needed an additional week to memorize their lines before we would be ready to record a video of the whole poem.  each to memorize.Recite memorized lines from "The Law of the Jungle" Complete and discuss of Kipling's "How the Camel Got His Hump." ignore or don't see the value in. 

Session 17 (Feb. 7)
"The Law of the Jungle" by Rudyard Kipling
Students recorded video of  will read a script of "The Law of the Jungle". I'll let you know when I have figured out a way to distribute this video to parents. 

Session 18 (Feb. 14) "Valentine for Ernest Mann," by Naomi Shihab Nye

We will read a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye entitled, "Valentine for Ernest Mann," which begins "You can't order a poem like you order a taco.  Walk up to a counter and say, 'I'll take two' and expect it to be handed back to you on a shiny plate."  Later in the poem a man presents , while others
ignore or don't see the value in.  to skunks as a valentine to his wife and "can't understand why she was crying" because he thought "they had such beautiful eyes." The poet discusses how "poems hide" in strange places like the eyes of skunks and that we "should live in a way that helps us find them."  These poems allow us to "reinvent" things in ways unique to us.  We will discuss the concept "point of view" in relation to this poem and will follow up this idea in the next session.  Assignment: Students will work on their own "reinvention poem".

Session 19 (Feb. 21) - Return to Kipling
Students will review "How the Camel got His Hump" and begin writing a script of a "just so story" with a partner or group of 3 students.  The script will need to explain "how the _____________ got its _______________" and show whether or not this animal's feature is a blessing or a punishment.  Students will not be allowed to use a narrator, so they will need to introduce the characters and key plot points through dialogue.

Session 20 (Feb. 28) - Continue Scripts

Students will continue to work on their scripts, with a goal of completing them this session.

Session 21 (March 7) - Begin Rehearsing Scripts

Students will begin to rehearse their scripts and possibly perform for their peers during this session.

Session 21 (March 14) - Perform Scripts and Begin Poetry Unit

Students will perform their scripts for the other pull-out group members, possibly to their classes.

New literary terms for the poetry unit will include:

Poem:  Metrical writing; art of rhythmical composition which engages the senses.

Verse: A line of poetry

Prose: Writing that resembles everyday speech

Sessions 21 and 22 (March 21 and March 28) - Emily Dickinson


1) Students will learn about one of America’s premier female poets and her poetry
2) Students will learn the definitions of “introvert” and “recluse” and discuss the connotations of each
3) Students will write a poem imitating Dickinson’s style


1) Students will read “I’m Nobody,” “Bee! I’m Expecting You,” and “Success is Counted Sweetest” by Emily Dickinson
2) Students will discuss Dickinson’s unique writing style, use of punctuation, and use of “incorrect” capitalization for emphasis
3) Students will be introduced to the terms “Introvert” and “recluse” and will be taught some basic information about Dickinson’s life and the publication of her poems after her death. Other terms covered "extravert" and "anonymous."
4) Students, to the best of their ability, will write a poem imitating Dickinson’s style

Session 23 (April 4) - Robert Frost


1) Students will learn about one of America’s premier male poets and his poetry
2) Students will write a poem imitating Frost’s style


1) Students will read “The Road Less Not Taken” and “Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost
2) Students will discuss Frost’s writing style and how it is similar and different as compared to Dickinson’s writing style
3) Students will be taught some basic information about Frost’s life and his poetry
4) Students, to the best of their ability, will write a poem imitating Frost’s style

Session 24 (April 11) - Writing like Dickinson or Frost

Students, to the best of their abilities, will write a poem imitating either Dickinson or Frost’s style

NO Session (April 18) - Spring Break

Session 25 (April 25)  - "I Write” Poems


1) To encourage self-expression;

2) To teach students how to use a poem template to create a poem;
3) To teach students how to use a template as an idea generator for several different poems


1) Students will be asked to work from a poem template that gives line starters that begin with “I” followed by a verb (e.g. “I think”, “I cherish”, “I fear”, etc.) to that they are to complete.
2) Students have to use at least 10 of the suggested verbs, they can use them in order, and they can choose to relate the lines on a single theme or consider them as separate statements.
3) I will share samples of my own writing and that of previous elementary students.
4) Students will share their drafts and peers will discuss the strengths of the drafts and discuss whether or not the poem maintained a single theme throughout or was a series of different thoughts.
5) I will discuss how some single lines can be the seed for an entirely different poem that develops that idea more fully.

Session 26 (May 2)  - Color Poems

Following a model poem that I wrote, each student is to list not only things that are that color, but why it is a favorite color, and what the color makes them think or feel.  My poem is called, "On Blue."

Session 27 (May 9)  – “Place” Poems


  1. To encourage rich descriptive writing to create “pictures from words”
  2. Students will learn how to emphasize their unique perspective on a place
  3. Students will learn the distinction between “definition” (the literal meaning of a word) and “connotation” (the feeling created by a word)
  4. Students will learn how to eliminate unnecessary words to focus on key words and images


  1. I will share 3 poems about my hometown from an issue of my high school’s art/literary magazine to show how each writer focuses on different aspects of the town using words that create different feelings about a place.
  2. Students will be asked to compare and contrast the 3 poems, looking for differences in details and connotations of descriptive words
  3. Students will brainstorm lists of places that make them feel safe, afraid, happy, or sad
  4. Students will begin writing their place poems (if time allows)

Session 28 (May 16) - Writing Workshop Day / Rehearsal for Celebration of Writing

Objectives – 1) To give students the opportunity to complete and/or improve poems that they have written; 2) To allow students opportunities to seek peer and teacher feedback on their work; 3) To begin to select poems students wish to include in the class collection


  1. Students will complete and revise drafts of poems
  2. Students may elect to get peer and teacher feedback on their writing
  3. Students begin to select poems to include in the class collection

Session 29 - SPECIAL EVENT! FRIDAY, May 23 - 8:30 - 9:15 a.m.

Celebration of Writing - PARENTS INVITED! Weather permitting we will meet at the Gazebo. Alternate location if the weather is bad - TBA)

Friday, May 30 - Field Day


"The Magic Listening Cap" Japanese folktale as told by Yoshiko Uchida (Junior Great Books Series 2)

Although this story comes from Series 2 that I use most often in second grade, it was not covered by our third graders last year and it has strong cultural and thematic connections to "The Story of Wang Li," "Nail Soup," and "The Enchanted Sticks." 

Story Summary
A man of limited means is unable to provide an offering to his god because he needs to use his meager income for basic survival needs. He offers himself to his god and the god is pleased by his willingness to serve and rewards him with a "magic listening cap" which allows him to hear the sounds of nature in his own language.  He overhears birds talking about a wealthy man who cut down a tree to build a guest house and the tree put a curse on the man, that the man would be sick and die in the same way the tree was dying.  The protagonist finds the wealthy man and poses as a fortune teller to save the man by telling him what he needs to do to "put his house in order" and remove the guest house.  He is richly rewarded, and now has plenty to offer his god, but he decides not to use the listening cap anymore. 

Key Discussion Question
:  "What would you have done with the magic listening cap?"

Although the reading level was less difficult it provides a great launching pad for more
advanced discussions of themes such as "harmony with nature" and "generosity to others"
is story, a young boy named Miobi is afraid of all of the animals in the jungle and is treated badly by his uncle who is the most courageous hunter in the tribe. Miobi learns to face his fears with the aid of a voice from the moon is able to get hero status within another village. The "monster who grew small" is a monster that feeds off of fear and gets larger as people run from it, but smaller as people come up to challenge it. The monster says it has many names like "Famine" and "Pestilence" but that most people call it "What Might Happen". Students discussed different things that people fear as well as their own fears and ways that they have been able to overcome them.
Students also discussed how fear can paralyze you and keep you from achieving good things in life.

"Arap Sang and the Cranes" African folktale as told by Humphrey Harmon (Junior Great Books Series 2)

Story Summary
An old man is walking through the desert and asks various animals for help in providing him with shade: a vulture, an elephant, and a group of cranes.  Students evaluate the responses of each animal and the consequences the animals face as a result of their decisions. The old man has some magical powers, but he also needs to learn some lessons about how he should use them.


- "Charles" by Shirley Jackson (Junior Great Books Series 5)
In this story, a young boy continues to bring home tales about a student in his class named "Charles" who is causing all sorts of disturbances in his class.  The boy's parents get very upset that this is happening and finally ask the teacher about what has been happening.  She informs the parents that there is no "Charles" in the classroom and the parents realize that there son has been the child responsible for the chaos in the classroom.  We discuss writing techniques from this story, specifically how the author builds suspense to set up the surprise conclusion.

Session 23 (Feb. 14/15) "Valentine for Ernest Mann," a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

Students will read "Valentine for Ernest Mann," a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye about a man who chooses to give his wife two skunks for Valentine's Day because they have "such beautiful eyes."  The overall theme of the poem is centered on beauty being in the eye of the beholder and that a poet's eye can "reinvent" things that others ignore or don't see the value in.  She also says that "poems hide" and we should check "inside our shoes" in "the sock drawer" and other tucked away places to pull out the unique poems that we have inside of us. 

Students will work on their own "reinvention poem".