Whether you’re teaching second grade for the first time or you’re a longtime vet, we’ve got you covered! We’ve collected 50 of the best tricks and tips for teaching 2nd grade from both the WeAreTeachers Helpline and around the web. If you need ideas for your second grade classroom, you’re in the right place!
1. Have a procedure for everything.
“It’s really important in second grade that you have procedures for everything! My first year, I had procedures for the big things but not the smaller things, and that was a mistake. Tattling and girl drama was big in my class. Not starting off with a policy and procedure for addressing it took from instructional time initially.” —Donella H.
2. Create a class constitution.
After learning about the constitution, students can apply their knowledge by creating their own class constitution called “We the Kids!” —Kreative in Life
3. Consider alternative seating.
Bean bags, saucer chairs, and pillows make for inviting alternatives to traditional desk-and-seat formations. —Setting up for Second
4. Make lining up easy!
Make a line of painter’s tape that students can use to line up quickly and easily every day. Eventually, take out the tape to show your second graders that they can line up perfectly on their own! —Soaring Through Second
5. Use Class Dojo for classroom management.
“I LOVE it. It was highly motivating for my second graders. I use it as a reward system. My parents love getting notifications that their child was recognized for something they were doing right!” —Angie S.
6. Inspire class community.
7. Post your students’ morning routine.
Having the routine illustrated and easy to see will help your second graders remember how to start each day independently. —The Colorful Apple
8. Make more out of recess.
Teach soft skills like patience and listening with these old-school recess games. Bonus: it’s like reliving your own childhood!
9. Pick an inspiring theme for your classroom.
Themes our second grade teachers love include butterflies, black paper with polka dots, chevron, sock monkeys, Dr. Seuss, owls, orange and teal, minions, and superheroes. Schoolgirl Style is one of our favorite bloggers for classroom theme ideas!
10. Find teacher deals on the cheap.
Stores serious discounts on classroom items recommended by our Facebook followers include Target, dollar stores, Mardel, Walmart, local teacher supply stores, Staples, Michael’s, Jo-Ann, Oriental Trading, Amazon, NAEIR.org, NationalSchoolProducts.com, and TeachersPayTeachers.com.
“Office Depot will match prices plus give an additional discount.” —Kitty R.
“Don’t be afraid of seeking donations. I once got a case of copy paper donated by a grocery store.” —Carmen B.
“Yard sales are a great place for prize box toys, and for games for your rainy day closet.” —Sandie N.
11. Teach telling time.
Students can draw different times on a dry-erase clock—just a hula hoop taped on your whiteboard. —Elementary Nest
12. Build a number of the day.
Students can build the number of the day by selecting the correct numerals, words, and units. —Turnstall’s Teaching Tidbits
13. Read to them every day with these second grade read-alouds.
14. Play addition Jenga.
Write (or label) addition problems on the Jenga pieces. As students play the game, they solve the problems on each piece they pull. —Second Grade Style
15. Prevent the mid-year crayon spills.
Tape the bottoms of all crayon boxes and never deal with exploding crayons again! —Soaring Through Second Grade
16. Check out Second Story Window.
“Second Story Window is an amazing second grade resource!” —Tanya C.
17. Teach verbs with a character they’ll remember.
How can your second graders forget that verbs are action words when they know Vicky Verb, action hero extraordinare? — Second Grade Smarty
18. Keep the room from getting too noisy.
19. Have students create a fun “Who Am I?” game for Back to School Night.
Students can describe and draw themselves, then parents can guess which is their child on Back to School Night. Lifting the drawing will reveal a picture of the student holding his or her name. — Smiling in Second Grade
20. Get musical (for free)!
Play music for free in your room with these kid-friendly Pandora stations, like the Piano Guys and Mozart for Kids.
21. Have your students start the day!
“Have the students review the answers to morning math problems with the class. I give my kiddos about 10 minutes to complete as much as they can and then I choose a student to come up to ‘teach’ the first problem by sharing strategies and solutions. That student asks if everyone agrees or disagrees and chooses another student for the next problem if everyone agrees. If there is disagreement with his answer, they discuss alternatives. The students are in charge for the first 30 – 45 minutes of the day! My favorite time of the day!” —Stacey S.
22. Use a clip chart for behavior.
A clip chart is a way to visually make students aware of both their good and bad behaviors. “I use a clip chart with numbers in my second grade class. I make sure to point out good behaviors in students. They really did develop buy-in and are proud getting to move their clips up. They learn that following classroom procedures is about them and not me. It helped them develop strategies to stay on track for following a procedure. I had success with it!” —Vicki A.
23. Or, reward good behavior simply.
“Work smarter, not harder! Catch kids being good and pass out tickets or something simple for you to handle so you can devote the majority of time to instruction and helping kids instead of more complicated classroom management systems.” —Cathy C.
24. Give your students a voice!
With Kid Blog, students can write their own blogs and express themselves—safely! “I love Kid Blog!” —Andrea M.
25. Remind students of their voice levels with a cute poster and rhymes.
Get kids excited to speak quietly with cues like “Spy Talk.” Make a class goal of going from a five to a three. — First Grade and Flip Flops
26. Put an exciting spin on exit slips.
Create a “Show What You Know” board. Use speech bubble-shaped whiteboards for kids to write their lesson takeaways on or have them write on Post-its and stick them on their designated bubbles. As a follow-up class activity, students can look at everything their classmates learned! — First Grade Nest
27. Manage work submission with clothespins.
Having students clip their papers will help quickly distinguish whose handed in homework and who hasn’t. — 2nd Grade Stuff
28. Demonstrate how it rains with this fun experiment.
Tips for teaching 2nd grade science! Show it rains with water, blue food coloring, and shaving cream. Read the full instructions on the blog. — Simply Second Grade
29. Teach states of matter with this simple demonstration.
This states of matter experiment will help your students understand how temperature affects the states of matter. — Education.com
30. Start a class economy.
”I gave my students plastic ‘banks’ from the dollar store. They earn money for specific things throughout the day: one penny for copying down homework, 10 cents here and there. Just keep it consistent and don’t overuse it, otherwise, they’ll be ungrateful for those random dimes and want quarters instead. On Fridays, they go shopping!” —Jacqueline Q.
“My Classroom Economy is a great resource for help getting started.” —Renee J.
31. What does a “model citizen” look like?
After discussing what makes a good citizen, construct a “model citizen” on poster paper for your classroom. Students can write their ideas of great qualities and stick them on the poster to complete the picture. — K-2 is Splendid
32. Conduct gummy bear experiments.
In the category of snackable tips for teaching 2nd grade … watch what happens when you soak gummy bears in liquid over a period of days. Find the full experiment—complete with freebie handout—on the blog. —Second Grade Shuffle
33. Introduce your second graders to American Symbols.
34. Go interdisciplinary: art, writing, and science!
Describe and illustrate the steps of the water cycle. —Simply Second Grade
35. Get the wiggles out.
Dance, rap, or get everyone squatting! Whether you’re seven or 70, sometimes you just need to move. Check out these ideas for beating a teaching funk.
36. Fire up your little storytellers’ imaginations.
“Creativity and sequencing skills combine to create wild stories!” Create a story jar and let their imaginations roam free. — Education.com
37. Write in math journals every day.
With math journals, students learn to solve mathematical problems using pictures and words. Check out free entry examples on the blog. — Smiling & Shining in Second Grade
38. Use rhymes to make math more fun.
Remembering how to subtract will be much easier with this cute poem! — The Colorful Apple
39. Inspire “big kid” behavior.
Teach tough curriculum like research by amping students up about using “big kid” resources like the library or technology room. Eleven teachers share excellent tips for teaching 2nd grade reasearch skills here.
40. Invite students to look at characters more in depth with this handy “character traits” chart.
Customize it to specific characters for each new book you read. — MPM Ideas
41. Introduce your second graders to small moment narratives.
Break down the process with this handy anchor chart and then watch them go to town writing. — Buggy for Second Grade
42. Then this helpful guide will help the kiddies distinguish those small moments from larger contexts.
43. Teach annotation with “thinkmarks.”
Encourage active engagement as readers by printing or having students create “thinkmarks” they can use to annotate text with as they read. — Simply 2nd Resources
44. Track the writing progress of each of your second graders.
All you need is this adorable pencil chart and clothespins. Write student numbers on each clothespin, then students can move them as they complete each step. — Second Grade Style
45. Make a picture alphabet book for parts of speech, antonyms, synonyms, and homophones.
Create a class library of these! It’s a great way to showcase student learning. — Swimming into Second
46. Uncommon common core organization!
We love this simple organizational idea. Create separately labeled folders for each standard, then file activities that align with each standard in the appropriate folders. Genius! — Teaching in Oz
47. Keep visitors informed.
Everyone at school will always know where your class is with this handy sign, made from a paper plate! — Pre-K Pages
48. Avoid nameless homework.
When students highlight their names before handing in work, you’ll never receive a name-free paper again! — Spectacular 2nd Grade
49. Find better uses for everyday objects.
Keep markers organized at stations and cooperative groupings with water bottle ice cube trays. —Flamingo Fabulous
50. Skip homework—go for classwork!
“I always do core lit during class. That way, when we discuss and ‘close read’ sections, we’re all literally on the same page. I can never be sure what does or doesn’t happen at home.” — Stacey T.
Looking for another grade level? You can find all of our 50 Best Tips series here.