Thursday, October 31, 2013


I am beyond excited to reveal my blog redesign!  Megan, from A Bird In Hand Designs, redesigned my blog for me.
A Bird in Hand Designs

Isn't it FABULOUS!?!?!  I love how clean it looks now.  Thank you so much, Megan!!!

If you are thinking about giving your blog a facelift, I highly recommend contacting Megan.

I would love to know what you think of the redesign.

Fall Word Work {Freebie}

We are learning new words everyday!  I have to say teaching my first graders new words is one of my favorite things to do.  Word families provide the quickest route to learning multiple words at one time.  We could easily write down lists of word families, but what fun is that?  NO FUN!  I tell you!  For this reason alone, I created this -all tree template.

Students write their -all words on the fall leaves of their tree.  My kiddos got a kick out of this craftivity.  Just click on any of the pictures to grab your copy.  Make sure to leave a comment if you use it with your students.

What kind of fun word work activities do you do with your students?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Finding balance with friends and music

In the middle of searching for powerful teaching ideas, I am also always hunting for fabulous music.  (I don't know about you, but good music can make any icky day better.)  My hunting paid off with this band...Lucius!

They recently made their way to Portland, where I had the chance to finally see them live.  I am a huge sucker for LIVE music; it puts me on such a cloud!  Just a side note: one of the multi-insturmentalists, Andy, is a close friend from college.

My hubs with the fabulous ladies of Lucius.

They just released their full length album.  Give it a listen, and grab it from iTunes!

Do you use music to boost your mood?  What bands have you discovered recently?

Sunday, October 27, 2013


This week marked 2 months with my first graders!  I can't believe how much growth I have already seen, and am so excited to share it with their families.  This week is conference week, one of the longest weeks EVER!  Between prepping materials for conferences, mental preparations, and plans for the week I am pooped already.
For each conference, I make sure to have multiple examples of student work, copies of assessments, a goal setting sheet, any papers that I still haven't gotten parents to fill out, and examples of what's to come.
On top of that, I prep strategy bags for each family to take home.  I think of these as my "No Excuses" bags for parents to work with their children.
Here is what's inside this year's bags:
Each family will take home one of these bags with a witch finger, for tracking words, and a reading strategy book mark.

Here are some of the resources: My First Grade Helper, How To Help Your Child Succeed, Sight Words, In the Car activities.
You can find most of these resources at the links provided, just click on the resource name.

What do you do to get ready for conferences?

Monday, October 21, 2013


As a first grade team, we determined that a focus on skip counting was a must.  We decided to write our first SMART Goal around this concept.  Therefore, I have been creating a plethora of activities to practice this skill.  I put a spin on one of our bat activities and a-skip-counting-we-went!
I started our math lesson by dumping out a whole container of counting bears, and told my students we only had 3 minutes to count them all.  I then took suggestions as to how we could count all of the bears in that time frame.  As a class we decided that counting by 5s would work.  Everyone jumped in and started grouping the bears into 5s.

We then learned that bats eat about 600 mosquitoes in one hour!  I broke students into 6 groups and handed them a page of mosquitoes.  Their job was to create a plate of 100 mosquitoes.  They had to work as a team to cut, sort, and count their bugs.  

Some groups wanted to sort by 10s and other groups sorted by 5s.

In the end, we skip counted by 100s and now have the perfect visual representation.
My kiddos did an awesome job working together, sorting, counting, and completing the activity.

What are some skip counting activities you do with your students?

Be sure to head over to a Burst of First to see what other teachers are up to.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bats Part 2

I am so proud of how hard my students have been working!  They have fully embraced our nonfiction introduction unit with bats.  Check out what we have been up to:

Do you like bats? Interviews:

I loved listening to my students as they interviewed each other.  These are the learning moments where I feel my students are truly invested!

What is an adjective?

 Their acrostic poems turned out perfect!

My students SHOCKED me during our first lesson on reading for specific information.  It was one of those lessons where I felt like I didn't scaffold it enough, but some how every student knew what to do, and how to succeed.  I can only hope that this happens when we revisit the same lesson this coming week.

Friday Art:

I am always amazed at how my students bring out their personality in a simple cut and paste project.

 What are you working on with your kiddos?

Don't forget to "Like" Searching for Teacher Balance on Facebook!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Main Idea and Details Craftivity

I don't know about you, but teaching, and knowing that students fully understand, main idea and details is difficult.  This year, I decided to take a step back and determine how I could reach multiple learning styles...enter...Main Idea Craftivity!

As a whole group we discussed and charted the difference between main ideas and details.  I read several excerpts from nonfiction bat books and had students pair-share as to whether examples I read were main ideas or details.  After visual and oral practice it was on to the craftivity.
 The visual representation and the kinesthetic construction allowed students to thoughtfully differentiate between a main idea and a detail.

I have continued to use this same format with the recording sheet that is included in the pack.  I am so impressed with the fabulous work my students continue to produce.

You can click on any of the pictures to head over to my TPT store and grab this product.  

How do you teach main idea and details?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Searching for Teacher Balance is now part of the Facebook community!

Be sure to like it and follow the feed.  I plan on posting a Fan Freebie and other goodies this week.

Do you have any tips for creating pieces on a Facebook community page?  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Math Monday

This year, I have stepped away from my traditional whole group math lessons and started focusing on small group math instruction.  I still teach whole group, but that time is to introduce math concepts and skills, while the small groups really allow me to meet needs (just list reading groups).
After our math meeting, introduction to our week or day, we do a whole group activity and then break into math centers.  Math Centers are categorized by each of the CCSS math strands.  Check out our Math Center labels and checklist.

Each week's centers focus on each of the strands.  This week my kiddos are working on the following centers:
Making 10s

10 Frame Pumpkin Math (the template and cards can be found in my TPT store)

Pattern Block Numbers


Candy Corn Numbers
While my kiddos are working on centers, I am reinforcing tallies, group counting (counting by 5s), units, and telling time to the hour, this week.

Be sure to swing on over to A Burst of First, to see what other teachers are up to.