**pencil problems**I started a new system based on some ideas I'd read about on Facebook and Pinterest, and now I never have to think about pencil problems!

At the beginning of the year, I provided every student in my class with a pencil case from the dollar store. I labeled them with each student's name so there could be no mix-ups!

Inside every case I included seven sharp pencils and one eraser. The second year I did this I changed it up to 5 pencils and it has worked just fine!

At the end of every week, my lunch helpers collect the pencil cases and sharpen all of the pencils. Any student who still has all seven (or five) pencils AND their eraser gets a small treat back in their case - an eraser, sticker, small wrapped candy. Any pencils missing, or nearing the end of their usable life, are replaced at this time and pencils are NEVER needing to be sharpened throughout the week! (Insert happy teacher face here!) I shared this idea at the beginning of this school year, but I'm so thrilled with how well it is going I needed to revisit! Pencil problems - solved!

You might also be interested in this post about getting organized in your classroom:

Take a look at some of the other classroom organization ideas and resources on this HUGE Pinterest board:

Pin this post:

Until next time,

You might also be interested in this post about getting organized in your classroom:

Take a look at some of the other classroom organization ideas and resources on this HUGE Pinterest board:

Pin this post:

Until next time,

I use almost the exact same system! We use pencil boxes instead of pouches. I'm always amazed at how excited the students are to get a sticker and a Friend of Pencils card. Thanks for starting a new linky!

ReplyDeleteJan

Laughter and Consistency

Isn't it awesome?! It has truly saved my sanity (and my pencil budget!!) this year! Thanks for linking up. :)

Delete~Erin

I love this idea. You would never believe how many pencils end up on the floor at the end of the day! I can't do this this year but will keep it in mind for the fall. I have a diabetic child so I never ever use candy or any type of food for a reward. It has certainly been challenging this year!! Thanks! :-)

ReplyDeleteOh, I can believe it!! I can tell you that my students have been just as excited and motivated by a sticker, special pencil or fun eraser as they have been for a candy. Any little surprise gift works wonders!

Delete~Erin

Erin, I love this fantastic idea!

ReplyDeleteDiane

One Giggle At A Time

Thanks, Diane! It truly has been a sanity saver! :)

DeleteErin

I have a silly question...where did you get your pouches? I love this idea

ReplyDeleteHi Jayme,

DeleteThanks for stopping by! Not a silly question at all! I got them from our dollar store, Dollarama. :) It is a routine that I will establish year after year. It has made my life SO much easier!

Erin

I can't wait to try it next year. Going to add a few items. Dry erase marker and eraser.

ReplyDeleteGreat idea!!

DeleteDid you have to buy any additional pencils as you restocked the pouches or did the students provide enough at the beginning of the year?

ReplyDeleteHi Paula!

DeleteThanks for stopping by!

I actually purchased all of the pencil cases using some of my classroom funds. I believe they were $1.25 each at our dollar store. You certainly could request that families send one in, but I would definitely have a few extras on hand, just in case!

Erin

I do something similar, using pencil boxes and tucking one inside each chair pocket. I also include crayons, scissors, and one glue stick. For the pencils, though, I include a couple 'regular' pencils with erasers, as well as a 'golf' pencil, and one thicker primary pencil. I don't have assigned seats, so the 'tool kits' (as we call them) belong to everybody, and are everybody's responsibility. This works better some years than others. Love the idea of personalizing it, though, AND regularly checking and giving rewards. Might try that next year!

ReplyDeleteI do have community bins for the other supplies, like glue sticks and colored pencils, but this has been the best system I've ever used for regular pencil management!

DeleteThanks for stopping by!

Erin

Erin,

ReplyDeleteWhat happens when all 5 are broken or need sharpening before then end of the week?

Hi Sherri,

DeleteThe whole point of this system, for me, is that I am not playing the "Rescue Ranger" and my students need to show responsibility for their supplies. Almost never does anyone have a week where all 5 pencils are broken or so dull they can't work with them, and if that happens my students are quick to help each other out by lending to a friend or making a trade.

Hope that helps! Thanks for stopping by!

Erin

What are your ideas for doing something like this ,but for middle school? I have 130 7th graders. Any ideas to modify your (awesome) idea?

ReplyDeleteOooh, great question, Erin! What if you teamed up with the other teachers who see these kids and organize so that each of you is only responsible for managing one of the groups? That's a win-win for everyone! :)

DeleteLet me know if you come up with something and I'll add it to the post for others!

Thanks for stopping by!

Erin

I teach middle school ELA and what I do is I assigned each student a number, which I use all through out the class, and so at the end of the period I check the bags, and then teach the students at the beginning of the class to make sure everything is there. That way I'm not doing the work. They soon learn who else has their bags, so it's funny to watch them react to a friend or someone else losing 'their supplies'.

DeleteThis comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

ReplyDeleteHi Erin!

DeleteSome ideas have been added by other readers! Check out the comments section! :)

Erin

What do you do about that student who has no pencils in his or her pencil pouch. I'm thinking I would just give them one. What if the 5 pencils in the pouch at the end of the week are pencils I had given him or her rather than the 5 they started the week with? I hope this makes sense.

ReplyDeleteHi there!

DeleteI can tell you this almost never happens! I had one student who would occasionally hand the pencil case in at the end of the week with only one or two pencils. While my position is that any missing will be replaced at that time, we almost always found them hiding in his desk. Throughout the week, though, I don't provide pencils. The whole point of this system, for me, is that I am not playing the "Rescue Ranger" and my students need to show responsibility for their supplies. If someone is missing theirs, they borrow from a friend until their supply is replenished.

Thanks for stopping by!

Erin

I love this idea. I have one boy who likes to be Edward PENCILhand and he ends up breaking them. I tell them to use a crayon. It's worked. I boy only took 1 week. Still working one.

DeleteI have one that "lost" all his pencils one week and he was told to use a crayon. Turns out all his pencils were hiding at the bottom of his desk and he was to lazy to look. So now if they are out they know to use a crayon. But it's only happened 2 times I think.

DeleteI don't have a helper. I make the kids turn them in to me and I just bring them home and put a ticket in it and on Monday they get to pick their own piece of candy. WORKS GREAT. LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Takes me maybe 10 minutes to get through 20 bags.

Glad you're enjoying this, Tonya! Thanks for stopping by and leaving some thoughts! :)

DeleteErin

Did anyone come up with a middle school adapatation?

ReplyDeleteNo one has shared anything with me. I would think that it could work the same way, unless you see different classes throughout the day. In that case, I was thinking it would work if you teamed up with the other teachers who see these kids and organize so that each of you is only responsible for managing one of the groups? That's a win-win for everyone! :)

DeleteLet me know if you come up with something and I'll add it to the post for others!

Thanks for stopping by!

Erin

Do you have a student check each bag at the end of the week?

ReplyDeleteYep! That's explained in the post. I have lunch helpers who do all the sharpening at the end of the week. :)

DeleteThanks for stopping by!

Erin

Sorry, I meant do the students put the surprise in the bags or do you?

DeleteMy helpers do it all! :)

DeleteAs far as the whole high school or middle school thing goes....could you simply number the pencil pouches instead of name them? Then you would still need only 30 pencil pouches and you're teaching your kids that their classroom is a communal space and therefore supplies need to be treated well. That would also mean that groups of kids would be assigned one pouch to take care of which may hold them more accountable with their peers. Just a thought?

ReplyDeleteThat's a great idea, Abby! Thanks for sharing!

DeleteGlad you stopped by!

Erin

How do you keep them from taking pencils from someone else's case?

ReplyDeleteA classroom culture of kindness, respect and caring for each other! It has never happened!

DeleteThanks for stopping by!

Erin

Love this idea! Though I don't think it would work well, as it is, in my middle school. All my students have different teachers for each subject and different schedules, so teaming up with even a few other teachers wouldn't work. I am still going to think about some type of adaptation. Pencils are in high demand in my intervention classes!

ReplyDeleteThere are a few suggestions in the comments, Shirley!

DeleteThanks for stopping by!

Erin

Door middle school, how about using numbers on a clear pencil pouch. Number your class list and the student gets the pack corresponding to their number. At the end of class you dismiss clad in number order and do a quick check that everything is there and issue a sticker. If all class pouches are correct for a set time, they ca n earn a classic prize for team work

ReplyDeleteI think that's a great idea, Karen! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

DeleteThanks for stopping by!

Erin

I am a teacher in Spain. Our schools are ruled in a slightly different way. Each student has a pencil case and his/ her own pencil, eraser and sharpener which has a small compartment for the chips. We help them labelling their pencils (so when they fall to the floor or get confused they can find it back) and they sharpen them themselves anytime they need it without even standing up. I suppose you could do the same with the pencils in boxes too, as long as they are labelled

ReplyDeleteThe labeling just takes so much time... this eliminates that for me!

DeleteThanks for stopping by!

Erin

Nice idea for an elementary classroom. Wouldn't work in a high school class...

ReplyDeleteYep! This is an elementary blog!

DeleteThanks for stopping by!

Erin

Do you have them keep the pencil bags in their desk or a centralized location so they don't get lost? I have a feeling my kids would take the bag home and lose it.

ReplyDeleteHi Autumn!

DeleteMy students just keep them inside their desks. They know that they're NOT to go home and it has never yet been a problem!

Thanks for stopping by!

Erin

Thank you! This is a great idea and I think it will help solve my pencil problem in 2nd grade.

ReplyDeleteGlad to help! Thanks for stopping by!

DeleteErin

When my dad retired he became a substitute teacher. This was always a problem for him. His solution was to offer kids a pencil to borrow for the hour but they usually ran off with them. So he began a system if you borrow a pencil you leave your shoe with him and it is returned when the pencil was returned. It solved the pencil consumption problem for him. Not sure about sharpening? He would have liked your idea!

ReplyDeleteYeah, I've heard the shoe suggestion quite a bit, but I'm not sure how that would go in a lot of classrooms these days... It is a safety issue and I can think of several families that would have a problem with their children being centered out that way!

DeleteThanks for stopping by, Colleen!

Erin

I am a middle school teacher and tried the shoe thing. I had a girl who had a crush on a boy in the class, steal his shoe instead of taking her shoe back. BIG mess. No longer do that.

DeleteI'm not a teacher but a mom. My daughter and my niece both do homework at my house after school and I really like this idea. Last year was our first year of school and a BIG learning experience for all of us. Everyday was a struggle to find pencils, crayons, scissors, glue, etc... I am thinking of trying this and teaching them to be more reponsible with the tools they need for homework. Thanks for sharing.

ReplyDeleteI am not a teacher but a frustrated mom. My daughter and niece do their homework at my house after school and I really like this idea. Last year was our first year of school and a BIG learning experience for all of us. Everyday we would have to search for the pencils, crayons, scissors, glue, etc... I am really thinking of trying this with them this year in hopes of saving time and my sanity. Thanks for sharing this idea.

ReplyDeleteI love that this is helpful for you at home, April! Thanks for taking the time to leave me a comment! So glad you stopped by!

DeleteErin

What time of day would you have your kids sharpen? I am going into first grade and trying to figure out what instruction period I would have to cut into for any job. Thanks!

ReplyDeleteHi there!

DeleteI actually have older students come to my classroom during the lunch break to help out with home communication and other small jobs daily, and I have them do the sharpening during the recess break, so no instructional time is impacted at all!

Thanks for stopping by!

Erin

Do you let the students use their own pencil sharpeners to sharpen pencils throughout the week?

ReplyDeleteHi Kimberley,

DeleteIf my students have personal sharpeners and use them correctly (no piles of shavings inside their desk or pencil case) then I have no problem with them being used throughout the week. That said, I don't encourage my students to bring them since they are usually more of a headache than a help!

Thanks for stopping by!

Erin

This is exactly what I was looking for! Thank you for sharing :) I am excited to try it with my first graders this year :)

ReplyDeleteI'm so glad this is useful to you, Angela! Thanks for stopping by!

DeleteErin

Love this idea wonder if you could use Pringles cans that you could cover in decorative paper

ReplyDeleteI think you could use any sort of container you wished! Glad you stopped by!

DeleteErin

I am a teacher and a mom. My daughter was in Kindergarten last year, and I provided her with a pencil pouch with 5 pencils that were neon color and labeled with her name. Every other day it was her job to sharpen the pencils at home. She used the same 5 pencils for about 2 months! The reason I did this is because of all the germs that get spread by students sharing pencils from the "sharp" and "dull" bins that the pencils were located. She only got sick once during the entire school year!

ReplyDeleteThis is such a neat idea! I'm definitely giving it a try this year, but with our small pencil boxes. Thanks for sharing!

ReplyDeletewww.thebutterflyteacher.com

I am a middle school teacher. I am trying something new. I have a "pencil up" process. When a student needs a pencil, typically a student gives away one that is really used. So I allow them to "pencil up". The student who is responsible and gives the used one away, get the brand new pencil from me.

ReplyDeleteI had a problem with pencils in first grade and I'm moving to second grade this year. I super love this idea! I give all my students a number, so I will put their number on their own bag. Also, I think I may velcro the bags to the side of their desks. That way they won't be dropping or losing them, but I can still remove them to check and refill at the end of the week. I can see how this could work because I always try to use positive reinforcement and it works well. Thanks for sharing your awesome idea! :)

ReplyDeleteThat's a great idea, Annette! Thanks for taking the time to share! :)

DeleteGlad you stopped by!

Erin

We have had a couple times where the child has "LOST" their bag. I told them to look in their desk. I've looked in their desk couldn't find it. Finally started taking everything out and there it was. Blending into the bottom. Our bags are black with a white number but you couldn't see the number so it blended into the black bottom.

DeleteHi Erin,

ReplyDeleteI love this idea and would like to use it this year! My only concern is time. How long does it take your helpers to go through all the pencil pouches, sort and sharpen pencils, and add in treats?

Thanks!

Toria

Hi Toria!

DeleteI have my helpers do this on Fridays during the lunch recess break. I would estimate that it takes them between 20 and 30 minutes, depending on how focused they are. My helpers were younger this year, so it took them a little longer than the 8th grade helpers. It really just depends on your help!

Thanks for stopping by!

Erin

I switched to pens (yep, even for math) a few years ago and never looked back! It's been my favorite management/procedures change in 13 years of teaching elementary school. The learning curve is quick, and kiddos who use their pens incorrectly are asked to just use a pencil for the rest of the day. This curbs the problems almost immediately. I do a little instruction first on crossing out answers instead of scribbling, which is great because then I can see their mistakes. It's harder to convince the parents of the transition than the kiddos, they love it!

ReplyDeleteInteresting! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

DeleteErin

I've been teaching for more than 20 years and this idea was a game changer for me! I love that it helps increase respect for property, and helps children become more responsible. Thanks for sharing!

ReplyDeleteI'm so glad you've enjoyed this tip, Laura! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave me a comment! :)

DeleteErin

I did this with middle school - 1 pouch per group in each of my 4 classes. It worked for a while but some kids were sneaking pencils from other classes- (the pouches hung from hooks behind their group of desks- I refused to be the pencil police so i scrapped the idea). . I’m thinking of trying it again but having a student pass out the pouches to each group and me collecting them with a quick check at the end of class. They are clear so it is easy to see that there are the correct number of pencils. I made each student supply 1 pencil and I added 2.

ReplyDelete