Upgrading The FLC with Your Second Grader’s Research Project Skills

Upgrading The Family Literacy Circle with Your Second Grader’s Research Project Skills

Within the first few weeks of school, I’m sure you (and your Second Grader) tried not to be too overwhelmed by :

  • the amount of content in ALL subject areas being covered ~ ALREADY!?!
  • the amount of Homework being given ~ where’s that WEEKLY checklist?!?
  • the amount of classroom expectations with their accountability ~ REALLY!?!
  • the amount of changes your child seems to be going through ~ QUICKLY!?!

With you  celebrating these changes with your seven-year-old, s/he will be preparing to embrace an even bigger change in what your young Scholar will achieve ~ the successful completion of…. THE RESEARCH PROJECT!!!

This is Part Three :

Upgrading the FLC with Your Second Grader’s Research Skills

Your Second Grade Scholar

The potential possibilities of any child are the most intriguing and stimulating in all creation. ~ Ray L Wilbur

By now you & yours have created a “work-space” for getting those academics done. Homework has been coming home for most students since Kindergarten, even if it was just reading together for minutes every night and a weekly spelling list and, oh yeah, some math problems…..

Yes, the Homework load will definitely increase, following your district’s guidelines for Second Grade. It should be a review of content to be done independently by your child. It will, usually, include independent reading for a certain amount of  time with a  a few sentences about comprehension to be written, a weekly spelling list with a daily study activity, and a few math computations with a word problem or two to solve. S/he should be able to complete these assignments independently in under 30 minutes, including the read time…. Issues?

Maybe BLB’s Homework Hotline Resource can help: https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/blb-resource-library/homework-help-hotline-parent-involvement-strategies/

Until…..it’s time for the Research Project, but that’s in the future (and not so distant…)

So…. your BIG Second Grader may be ready to move away from the kitchen table and into a more private, “serious ” study space. It may require some research….

A Private Study Space of My Own

I came across a helpful little article, “Quick Study” by Caylin Harris in the September 2017 edition of FAMILY CIRCLE. She collected some ideas from Amanda Titchenal, Leslie Josel & Kate Varness and offers these suggestions:

  • Make the creation & design a “joint effort”. The sense of ownership will encourage use & maintenance of the work-space.
  • Choose furniture with the flexibility to “grow” with your child, physically & aesthetically.
  • Keep going through that “Goes Home” folder together. Is there a separate Homework folder? They may be color-coded.
  • Music ? Yes/No ? Some types of music is actually beneficial for studying. Check out what moves, motivates or distracts your child’s focus & concentration. Headphones ? Maybe not….
  • Use organizational boxes, bins & racks. Have your child label them. I used dividers in drawers for easy, quick access to tools & materials. Not a fan of Junk drawers, myself…..
  • Open shelving on pegboard allows for easy access & visual organization. Big fan of that option especially in a closed space.
  • Make sure a Celebration Board is part of the work-space ~ cork, magnetic, plexiglass with ribbon.

Don’t really have space for a work-space?

A Home Project….and Some Research

Actually, you do. Josel suggests making a tri-fold privacy shield out of a presentation board. It does need to stand on its own and the height may need a trim.  Your child can decorate & stick on pockets for organizing. When the shield has done its work,  your child can fold it up and slide it under the bed, beside a chest of drawers or inside the closet.

Setting up a Home Learning Environment can be  challenging, especially if space is limited and other “stuff” is taking up space ~ DO NOT get rid of the dishwasher…. This BLB Resource may have some helpful ideas for you & yours:


You know your child has not only been engaged in research at school since Kindergarten, but, s/he has, also, been conducting informal Research Projects at home. They may be totally verbal, but…”Here’s why we need a dog..”; “There’s tons of stuff to do at….”; “I really need to join….”~ to mention a very few…

Collecting and ~ yes ~ writing down the information is an entirely different “project”. So, I thought I would create a few  Family Fun Home~Grown Project Templates with an idea list : Home Research Projects

Of course,  you  obviously are an important partner for developing those Critical Thinking Skills your child so readily uses to “present” a potential Family Research Project…

The “Brainiac” Project

Growing Those Critical Thinking Skills-Sulaco229
Growing Those Critical Thinking Skills-Sulaco229

The braininess of your young Scholar is really beginning to “present” itself. If you’re unsure, click on this Resource to confirm his/her state of mind: https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/blb-resource-library/parent-guide-building-thinking-skills/

And it’s only going to increase in growth & complexity…

There are 4 Big areas you can  continue to help develop your child’s cognitive skills:


  • Improves descriptions
  • Increases meaning & comprehension with details

Spatial Thinking

  • Defines shape characteristics: same/different, sequences/patterns, classifications into groups
  • Uses directional & positional words with increasing accuracy

Verbal Thinking

  • Shares picture descriptions with greater detail, using part to whole
  • Selects living & nonliving things with similarities & differences
  • Orders living & nonliving things into a sequence by characteristics
  • Classifies living & nonliving things by traits or characteristics

Academic Vocabulary

  • Understands subject-specific words that describe, classify & compare/contrast
  • Begins to apply or use subject-specific vocabulary during verbal & written explanations of key concepts

Academic Vocabulary development can be a tricky, if not confusing area to address. BLB Shop has a product with games & activities  to help understand and use these words in Second Grade : https://www.bizzylizzybiz.com/shop/blb-press-writing-collection/second-grade-wow-words-vocabulary/

And speaking of Academic Vocabulary, did you know there are 4 types of Knowledge & 6 Cognitive Processes (Bloom’s Taxonomy ~ remember him…) !?!

Yes…There Are 6 Levels of Thinking within Those 4 Kinds of Knowledge…

And now for some 25-cent words to include in this SHORT explanation of Knowledge & Thinking… which, believe it or not, your Second Grader is already hearing in the classroom…



  • terminology (specific words/vocabulary)
  • specific details & elements


  • classifications & categories
  • principles & generalizations
  • theories, models & structures


  • subject’s specific skills & algorithms (rules of process)
  • subject’s specific techniques & methods
  • criteria for determining when to use appropriate procedures


  • strategic (careful design/plan)
  • appropriate cognitive tasks
  • self-knowledge


RememberListDescribeTabulateAppropriate Use

Again ~ not only does your young Scholar understand many of this “terminology”, but s/he will, also,  be  (if not already) using this Knowledge and Cognitive Thinking Skills during the Research Project Process. UH HUH!!!

Need a bit more info ? Click on the link below:


There are a few things you can do at home to help build the skills s/he needs to successfully & accurately produce a Research Project.

Home ~ Grown Research Project Prep

You can not open a book without learning something. ~Confucius

Open Your Mind & Learn-DavidClode
Open Your Mind & Learn-DavidClode

You are probably already doing this if you and yours are Nonfiction book readers ~ you have taught your child the value of learning how to use Informational Text Features like: the Table of Contents, the Glossary, Captions under images, Labels, Diagrams, Bold & Colored Print, etc.

Informational Text Features Infographic
Informational Text Features Infographic

Second Graders learn how to use at least 17 of these helpful clues when trying to understand and discover which pieces of information will be necessary to include in the Research of a Topic. Here’s a little workbook you can use for reviewing and/or reteaching these all important Research Skills:

I Understand Informational Text Features

I, also, painstakingly, created a fun and very concise Literacy Learning Tool for teaching Informational Text Features that includes an interactive Nonfiction book I wrote ~ THE TINY GIANT: A True Story About Watermelons~ with a mini comprehension workbook. Here is the BLB Shop link:


An Informational Text Features Mini ~ Lesson

What Kind of Crab Is This?-Bmewett
What Kind of Crab Is This?-Bmewett

Your beach-loving boy has just caught a crab of some kind. A nonfiction book about Ocean Animals needs to be found because he needs to know EVERYTHING about this small, interesting creature. Wherever you decide to look for a book, it needs to have the right information. “So, where’s the first place you should look in the book?” you ask your eager learner.

He quickly opens to the Table of Contents, but doesn’t want to read that much yet. “Where else could you find what you’re looking for ?” If he doesn’t know about the Index ~ here’s your teaching moment~ and “SO, you know you want to find out about…” “A crab!” he exclaims. “Look! Here it is on page…!” Well, it’s a Section with all the different crabs found in the ocean. Guess, he’ll have to do a little more……research.

If there are pictures of different crabs, encourage him to study the photo and think about what he already knows. Then, it’s time to read the Caption underneath it to see if this crab could be the same, or a similar one. Is there a Map or some other Location image ? Ask your child to look for them.

Kind of like a Treasure Hunt, huh!?!

These interactive questions mirror how your Second Grader is learning how to use Informational Text Features in the classroom.

The Teacher ~ Parent Connection

Have you connected with your child’s school and the teachers ? We Are Teachers created a short PDF loaded with tips and ideas regarding the relationship between you, your child & school. Just click on the link:


Classroom Research Project Sequence

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom. ~ Socrates

Although author and book studies can be part of a Research Topic, Geography, Social Studies & Science are heavy hitters in this category.

The “I Wonder…” phase of the Inquiry is usually begun in a KQRL template. Here’s an example  : KQRL Template

Your Scholar is participating in a monthly Research Project which usually begins as a whole class lesson presented in sequential mini-lessons. Peer editing is usually part of this Process with a final, strongly visual Presentation piece, such as a flyer, poster, or even a sculpture.

His/her teacher may assign cooperative groups of 3-4 classmates a variety of Topics for them to discuss and, then decide on a specific Topic Question / Sentence.

A partner Project may be next with an independent Project as a cumulative study towards the end of the year. One, or several may be given periodically as an ongoing homework task with a deadline schedule for the different parts of Project research until its  Presentation due date. 

The Topic usually starts out BIG : Animals to a Smaller Topic: Birds to a specific, simple Topic: The Life Cycle of a Robin.

Possible Second Grade Science Topics

Leaf Study-Stocksnap
Leaf Study-Stocksnap

These Topics may, also, be part of a Science Fair Project ~ again, Big to Small to Specific:

  • Animals: traits & characteristics as in diet, habitat, seasons, life cycle
  • Habitats : plants, animals & land-forms of ocean, forest, desert, tundra
  • Earth : properties & characteristics of rocks, soil, waterways, land-forms
  • Weather : characteristics of the seasons, elements, extremes
  • Human Body Systems : nervous, digestive, muscular & skeletal
  • Matter: properties & states of solids, liquids & gases
  • Forces: properties & management of electricity & magnetism

BLB Shop has 4 Science Labs: Physical, Earth, Life & Ecology to help you and your young Scientist explore these Topics:





Social Studies & Geography Topics are next.

Possible Social Studies & Geography Topics

WWhere Oh Where ? BenKerckx
Where Oh Where ? BenKerckx

Here are some Social Studies & Geography curriculum objectives that may be explored during this Second Grade year :

  • Maps & Globes : identify geographic features
  • Communities : explore the different helpers, careers, goods & services
  • Governments : discuss purpose, elections, laws &  differences of local, state & federal levels
  • Historical Figures : impacts, contributions & biographies
  • America : history, customs & celebrations

You can check out my previous Second Grade post on Second Grade Celebrations for some ideas :


Need a few  mini-lessons on Community Helpers, USA Symbols & USA Celebrations ? Click on these links :

Community Helpers

USA Mini Lessons

15 USA Holidays

Finally, BLB Library has a  Nonfiction Independent Reads Book List as a Resource for these 3 subject areas to assist your Second Grade Scholar with her/his Research :


And now, for the Feature Presentation ~the actual Research Project Process with its steps & expectations…..

The Research Project Process

Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children. ~ Walt Disney


Many school districts, including several of the ones I taught in, use the The Big 6 Research Model developed by Mike Eisenberg & Bob Berkowitz in 1987.

This Information Literacy Research Method continues to be used throughout the world because of its grade level & subject versatility.

This Research Model :

  • provides a plan for engaging students in the learning experiences of problem solving and critical thinking
  • helps them evaluate which pieces of information  will  answer the specifically defined Topic Question/Sentence
  • encourages students to create ideas for unique products or presentations of their research.

Many Primary educators adapt the Big 6 sequence into the Super 3, which provides students with the same basic elements using a simpler vocabulary.

Here’s a mock-up table comparing the 2 methods :

Task Definition : What am I supposed to do & what information do I need?Plan: What am I supposed to do ?
Information Seeking Strategies: What sources will I used to help me find this information ?Plan : What do I need to find out ?
Location & Access : Where can I find these resources & who can help me find them ?Do : How do I find what I need to complete the task ?
Use of Information : How will I record the information I find ?Do : What can I make to show what I have learned ?
Synthesis : How will I show what I have found & stay organized in a timely manner ?Review : Did I do what I was supposed to do ?
Evaluation : I will know I have done my best & use an editing checklist to be sure.Review : Did I do my best work or do I need to do something else before I am done ?

Pitt County Schools in North Carolina offers a 35-page, thorough, parent-friendly explanation of these 2 methods in a PDF.


BLB Library, also, has a Resource for  understanding the Inquiry Investigation Process:


And, if you need an easy-to-use, step-by-step Instruction Handbook with Templates & Reference Checklists for The Research Project AND The Science Fair Project, you can find this Guide in BLB’s Shop. Just click on the link below :


About That Science Fair Project…..

Need specific Science Fair Project info ? This site, Science Kids, offers grade level ideas with a help-guide for using the Scientific Method:


Speaking of a help-guide….

Dear Parents of Project Researchers……

Oh Yay! A Research Project !-White77
Oh Yay! A Research Project !-White77

As a parent and educator, it’s really difficult for me to know where to “draw the assistance line” .

There are so many “variables” to consider when your child, especially your Second Grader, comes home with The Project to complete.

So, again, I did some research, and, I think I found a few pieces of sound advice to share with you.

Diane Divecha of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence defines too much help basically tells your child s/he is not capable of doing the work. Instead, she recommends support your child by helping him/her develop the skills to do the projects independently with experiencing the stress  big projects can bring.

The Advice…..

  • Teach those organizational skills needed for effectively completing all the parts of a Research Project ~ to-do list, materials list, task schedule
  • Show how time management can help make the Project advance more efficiently, even if it means s/he needs to modify some of the product.
  • Review, if necessary, how to use some of the tools, materials & supplies.
  • Act as a sounding board for ideas and a discussion resource to encourage your child’s ownership of his/her work efforts. 

I’m sure you’re not surprised by the length of this post, but there was a lot of ground to cover….Believe me ~ I did the Research…

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