125 of 126 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2001
I have the complete set of these books, from kindergarten through 6th grade, and I really recommend them all. The 2nd grade book contains poetry (including "The Night Before Christmas), stories (including a section from Charlotte's Web), American tall tales (including Paul Bunyan), Myths from Ancient Greece (10 stories in all), Learning About Language (nouns, verbs, sentences, etc.), and Familiar Saysings and their origins.
And that's just the language section.
History and geography, visual arts, mathematics, sciences and music are also included in this book. I especially like the history sections in these books. In the 2nd grade book, Civilizations of Asia and Ancient Greece are particularly interesting, with lots of great pictures. The religions of the cultures involved are discussed in a matter-of-fact and respectful manner. The section on ancient Greek politics leads right into the section in American History and democracy.
The next logical step is to discuss slavery in the United States, and important facts of the civil rights movement are explained. Civil rights heroes like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks are given attention, and overall it is done with a proper amount of emphasis, and ends on the positive note of changes and improvements in our culture, rather than stopping with the Civil War and leaving it at that.
A basic overview of what a 2nd grader should know in terms of math is included, along with illustrations and details of the various mathematical concepts. This is not meant to be a complete math text by any means, but more of a checkout point. Anything the child is behind in can then be noted and remedied, and the basic concepts are there so the parents at least can figure out what needs to be taught.
I find the science and visual arts sections to be just a brushover of what should be covered. I only use this information as a starting point, and I find other materials to back these subjects up.
This book is very good as part of the overall Core Knowledge curriculum. By itself, it is an incomplete curriculum for a 2nd grader, I think, but it is very good in terms of history, and for the other subjects, I think it is a great starting point.
Whether your child is homeschooled, or goes to school outside the home, I think this is a good book to have around, and the entire Core Knowledge series is a sensible starting point for a homeschooler who creates their own curriculum, like I do. I think for all other parents, it is very important to have this book, in order to fill in any gaps in your child's education.
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2005
This series is great if you homeschool or want to help your child during the summer. If you want to use it for homeschool, Hirsch has made a teacher handbook. The Teacher Handbooks provide background about language arts, history and geography, visual arts, music, mathematics, and science. Each handbook has been written to look like the Core Knowledge Sequence. For each section in the Sequence, there is a matching section in the handbooks.
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2004
This review is about the 2nd book in the core series "What your __ grader needs to know"
The author/ Editor E.D. Hirsh Jr. has compiled every well-known fact in American culture such as literature, slogans, sayings, history, math and all other subjects that a child of a particular age or "grade" should know. There are 7 volumes in all from Kindergarten to 6th grade.
The premise of this book was to create a national standard so that children in the same grade are learning the same things at the same time be it from classroom to classroom, or from state to state. In the books Introduction, Hirsh explains how a parent of twins were concerned that they were learning completely different things and thus were both getting different and abbreviated educations with many gaps. He believes that it is "a sign of trouble when teachers in that school do not know what children in other classrooms are learning on the same grade level, much less in earlier and later grades".
I can identify with Hirsh's concerns as a parent who has moved from state to state across the US. My son was in 3 schools in 3 years and as far as I could tell, repeated Kindergarten 3 times with few exceptions. When he finally got to a school that was up to par with the 1st school he attended, he was lost. So having a unifying curriculum across the United States is very helpful. As this book has been widely acclaimed and used in public and private schools across the country , I believe it will be very useful to me and my children as we embark upon our homeshooling career.
To date this is the only book of its kind written for public schools, and though there are suggested curriculums for homeschooling parents, there are so many camps and methods available, that unifying is not possible.
I am a little wary of the whole concept of a unified curriculum because our children are not machines to feed information to at predestined intervals in order to come out with a good finished product. Instead they are individual human beings, all with differing strengths and abilities, and I don't feel all children should be restricted to learning the same thing. Of course this is how the problem started in the first place, because just as all children are different, so are all teachers. So we are stuck with an interesting catch 22. Using this book as a starting ground and allowing a student to go into further depth on subjects that interest him or her can best resolve this conflict.
The Book "What Your 1st Grader Needs to Know" has already become a favorite in my home and is a great building block to use not only after, but also in conjunction with the Kindergarten volume. I have found that this book repeats much of the material in the Kindergarten book reinforcing popular knowledge while including it for anyone who may have missed this information in the lower grades. It then builds upon this knowledge by adding more. This is most evident in the literature section where we see things we have already read in the Kindergarten books along with many new treasures. For the Literature sections at least you could skip some levels and not miss anything because of the repetitive nature of the series. In subjects like math and science however, it may be necessary to use the books chronologically in order to build upon a Childs knowledge from year to year.
Contents of the First grade book include, but are not limited to:
Language arts witch includes: Nursery rhymes, poems, Aesop's Fables, and short stories.
Geography, world civilization, and American Civilization,
A deeper understanding of fine arts, including, books, and musical arts
Math from counting to fractions to using the calculator
Science with the same subjects as before on a deeper more involved level
When I purchased this book, I thought it would serve mostly as our curriculum for the upcoming years, but instead I have found a great resource and guide as to where to start. I believe these books will help to make my children's interests more evident and inspire them to concentrate on the areas they are passionate about.
I purchased these books in anticipation of beginning homeschooling, but we could not wait to get started on this series. I recommend this and the other books in this set to anyone considering homeschooling or even school schooling
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2001
We keep the age appropriate book for each of our boys in the car. They'll read anything when stuck in the car for long trips and even when waiting for one brother to finish with scouts or soccer. The books have led to wonderful conversations about science and literature and even math. I think these books are a valuable supplement to my boys' education.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2003
This book (and I've been purchasing all in the series) delivers what it promises - the content of material a 2nd grader should be taught throughout the year.
What I think could make a great book even better, is if the book would also deliver more advice and suggestions on how a parent should go about delivering and enforcing the supplemental material. Activities, quizzes, and worksheets about the topics presented would help the child maintain the information.
I've found that the "tips" on how parents should help their children given in the introduction to each section have decreased with each year in the book series. There was a lot more information given in the introductions for the kindergarten and first grade books than there is in the second grade book.
I will definitely buy the rest of the series, but I will probably have to come up with ways to enforce the material presented on my own. Which is fine -- the book doesn't promise to do this, it would just be an even better book if it did.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2004
I agree with previous reviews (e.g. review by Kathryn Behm). Core Knowledge "What Your ?st Grader Needs To Know" books need quizzes and worksheets to help the students retain the learned information.
Here is a website that provides quizzes and worksheets based on Core Knowledge Curriculums:
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 1999
The Core Curriculum series is a good jumping-off place to guide a child in an education. It gives information that builds upon itself, and this enables a child to develop a chronological sense of history and discovery. The series is fairly developmentally appropriate. Some may argue that it does not allow for flexibility and curiousity, but using it in a home environment should not curtail exploration; on the contrary, a child who is allowed to peruse the book at leisure will find many curious and interesting things, and may have more questions than the book itself can answer, which is why it makes a great starting point for further exploration. If greater interest is not illicited regarding a particular subject, at least an introduction is made. It is a collection of facts, stories, and simple exercises that can be taken as far as interest and time will allow. The series cannot stand on its own, and is not meant to, but allows a child to begin exploration in the sciences and arts. When supplemented and expanded with field trips, experiments, and curiosity, it can serve as the basis for a fun and enlightening education. A particularly nice feature of the revised edition is the introduction of ancient world religions. It is always helpful to aid gaining an understanding of our world by introducing the varying ideas upon which people base their values, moral standards, and practices. The Core Knowledge Curriculum is recommended for those who wish to aid children in a guided discovery of their world, who want to allow children to stand on the platform for a moment and look around before they decide what end of the pool they would like to jump into.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2006
This is an excellent book. My husband and I read many passages for my son. He likes them very much. They enrich his mind tremendously. My son's school somehow does not provide this much content. We would miss a lot fine literature, history, and geography without this book. Thanks to the authors. I do see the math part is too easy for second graders nowadays. For practice, we use Beestar math and ELA (a wonderful web site [...] Its free weekly exercises are about right and very helpful. Overall, this is an outstanding book loaded with fine content. I highly recommend it.
65 of 82 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2000
While many of the sections in this book are very well done (Language and Literature, Music, Visual Arts), I was struck by the disproportionate space devoted to relatively minor historical figures apparently based solely on race and gender considerations. This book exemplifies the worst aspects of political correctness. For example, the History and Geography section devotes an entire page (with photograph) to Rosa Parks while yielding only half a page (no picture) to Abraham Lincoln. Even more telling, the Science section profiles only four people, but two of them are relatively obscure black men (Daniel Williams and Elijah McCoy). Major figures like Louis Pasteur, Albert Einstein, and Jonas Salk didn't make the cut, but the man who invented the "automatic lubricator" (McCoy) merited a page and a half with photograph. Many of the biographies are framed in long discourses on racial and sexual discrimination. The message of many of the chapters seems to be that white, European males are evil and that non-whites, non-Europeans, and females are saintly. These themes are repeated in such an embarassingly obvious and heavy-handed way that my wife and I simply skipped entire sections which looked more like PC propaganda than an honest attempt to present information. Sorry, E. D. Hirsch, Jr., but MY second grader needs to know more than this.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2009
My preschooler was having behavioral problems at school. One teacher said she needed to be in advanced studies and another said she needed to be held back. I had no idea where she was academically for her age. I had always relied on the school system to tell me how my child was doing and now I had two completely opposing views and a child who was unhappy in school.
I bought this series for grades preschool through second grade to determine where she fell. I used the books to supplement her education where I thought she was lacking. After four months not only was she accepted into a private school that teaches two grades advanced of standard, but they bumped her up a grade as well. She has completely stopped her behavioral problems and is happy in school again.
I would have never known what was the right the path for her, if this series had not helped me determine what a child of her age supposed to be learning.
I highly recommend this series for any parent who just wants to be informed about the educational standards and where their child falls. In addition, its a great resource for supplementing your child's education.
No one knows your child as well as you do, but you have to have the knowledge to make decisions. Without knowing what your child should know, how can you really be sure how well their doing?
In addition, I completely disagree with some reviewers who have claimed the books are racist. I was impressed with the multicultural approach of the books. The history section made a point to include important minorities, including women, asians, blacks, hispanics. The literature section included stories from asia and stories about slavery and women's rights. We did not studies those in school when I was growing up. I thought the book was well balanced.
If home schooling, I thought it made an excellent guide, but it doesn't claim to be a tool as your only resource. It would certainly need to be supplemented, but it provides a great guide for the topics that you would need to cover.