Learning with Friends 20-21 Curriculum Picks: First and Second Grade

“I’m more interested in arousing enthusiasm in kids than in teaching the facts. The facts may change, but that enthusiasm for exploring the world will remain with them the rest of their lives,” ~ Seymour Simon, author of more than 250 children’s science books

Isn’t it interesting that Seymour Simon, an author who the New York Times called “the dean of the [children’s science] field,” focuses on piquing curiosity? 

While he is discussing teaching science, specifically, this idea of provoking wonder in childhood is the key to building lifelong learners. And as we sort through curriculum choices and agonize over the best math, spelling, and history books, let us remember that goal. Invoke wonder, encourage discovery, and engage through conversation. 

With those ideals in mind, here are our 20-21 curriculum picks for first and second graders. 

RightStart Math

A hands-on approach to number sense. Using a ton of manipulatives and games, RightStart is a great math option for your young student to play with numbers. 

The games also build on one another, and there are plenty of options included so that your students of all math levels can enjoy the games together for reinforcement and a one-room schoolhouse feel. 



A full, boxed-set curriculum option, MasterBooks is a Christian-based company that offers several approaches to each grade level. 

“I truly cannot say enough good things about them,” says homeschooling mom Sarah Tankersley. 

Sarah says she chose MasterBooks because the curriculum is beautiful and “real kid kind of fun.” All of the lessons point back to God, and she describes the lessons as turn-key. 

“I can certainly add to them and expand on whatever I choose,” she says. “However if I don’t (because it’s 2:00 and we have soccer practice, eight loads of laundry, and nothing for dinner) it’s still a rich, full lesson!” 


Classical Conversations

A community-based curriculum option, the early years of Classical Conversations focuses heavily on memory work in the seven strands – math, english, Latin, history, science, world history timeline, and geography. 

Students work through three cycles of memory work, returning to each cycle at least once for mastery. Fine arts, hands-on science, and oral presentations are also a part of a Classical Conversations community day. 

You can read more about Classical Conversations in this blog post.


The Good and the Beautiful 

For a gentle, integrated approach to Language Arts, the Good and the Beautiful combines reading, spelling, grammar, geography, and art in the beautifully designed workbooks. 

Students are exposed to classic literature that is difficult to find in print otherwise, and Scriptural themes are woven throughout. 

The Good and the Beautiful offers several subject strands, including math, but language arts is where this curriculum really shines. 


Read, Read, Read

And, finally, an encouragement to always include reading aloud to any curriculum you choose! 

The Read Aloud Revival podcasts and book lists at readaloudrevival.com are a wonderful resource for finding quality literature. 

Our Science with Friends bundles are perfect for ages 6-12, and are an excellent enrichment to add to any curriculum choice. Like Seymour Simon says, exploring science with simple materials and a focus on wonder and discovery is perfect for all ages!

Nicole Paitsel is the creator and co-founder of Learning with Friends, a curriculum enrichment brand that focuses on hands-on science projects that invoke discovery, conversation, and connection.

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