Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pencil War

I know I'm not alone when I say pencils drive me all kinds of crazy in the classroom. I feel like there should be a course on the different ways to manage pencils when you are getting your education degree!

Last year, for the life of me, I could not figure out what was going on with the pencils.  They were breaking left and right and no one ever seemed to have a shark pencil.  I didn't let the students use the pencil sharpener because I knew it would open the flood gates even more. It got to the point where the students had to check out a pencil.  I was trying to track and see if I could figure it out.  If I could only teach my lessons....

One day, I overheard a student say "I have 5 specks.  How many do you have?"  I asked her what specks were and she looked a little guilty, but she showed me.  They were collecting the lead in their pencil boxes!! On purpose, people.

Whatever you do, don't give them mechanical pencils because you are tired of sharpening pencils and your pencil sharpener overheats. Not my smartest moment.

Then I found this little goody on Pinterest.

It is life changing, I tell you. You can read all the details about how Ms. H uses it in her classroom HERE. It's a free download on TPT!

Here's how I use it in my classroom.

I bought these plastic pencil holders at Target, The Dollar Store, and Walgreens.  In a perfect world, I would have gotten colors that matched my theme. But considering it's mid year and finding enough for my class required me to go to three stores. I'm sure I could have gotten them online somewhere, but I wanted them ASAP.

I'm also giving my students six pencils a week, instead of eight. Honestly it was because my hand was so tired of sharpening! Their reward for having all six pencils intact on Friday is a Star Dollar (this is based off of my management system.) They store the pencil boxes in their table basket.

I started this system after Christmas break on January 3rd.  I have had ABSOLUTELY no problems with pencils. I don't have to stop a lesson to sharpen someone's pencil and there is no more "I don't have a pencil!" I only sharpen pencils one time a week instead of every. single. day.

Has anyone else tried this system out?


  1. Haven't seen this. Glad you shared...it always seems like someone needs a perfectly sharpened pencil in the middle of a lesson or activity. I put a routine in place at the beginning of the year that they trade out their pencils every morning...but I am liking the idea of only having to sharpen those darn yellow things once a week!!

    For the Love of First Grade

  2. Aw thanks!! :) That's a super cute idea! My kids are pretty good about it, fortunately. LAST YEAR...I seriously almost just wanted to give them crayons hahaha.

  3. Sounds like you found a system that works for you!! I have 3 small pails, one for sharpened, one for big pink erasers and one for not sharpened. They can take a sharp if they trade in an unsharpened. We only sharpen before school. Never during the day. This is possible since we got the sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies! It is AMAZING!! Have you heard of it? I tell ya, pencil sharpening will never be the same!! :)

  4. I too use table supplies and at the end of the day the last few parent pick up students get a piece of candy or a treat from my treasure chest for sharpening the pencils in The boxes. We also have the large pink erasers four for each table of four. This method is fabulously self regulating because if I have a student that likes to destroy supplies the rest will let me know immediately because they all need them. Group seating is soooo self regulating!!