More Than a Worksheet

Class Mystery: The Case of the Disappearing Pencils

Where do pencils go?! It never fails, I can sharpen several packs of pencils in the morning, and they are gone by the end of the day. I know pencils break, but I’m not saying I have broken pencils at the end of the day, I am saying I have no pencils. They disappear. Into desks, backpacks, hungry tummies. I don’t know where they go, but they go, and they go fast.

And sure, students each bring in a box of pencils at the beginning of the year. Those usually last maybe til October. That is if I’m handling them. I tried one year to just let students keep their own pencils. By the second week of school, students were without that ever-so-essential writing utensil.

I’ve tried those little pop-a-point pencils. Never again, they become fun little toys to take apart. I’ve tried mechanical pencils. I’ve tried labeling pencils. I’ve tried putting student numbers on pencils. I’ve tried little flags on pencils. I’ve tried making students trade me personal items when they borrow a pencil. I’ve tried cute pencils. I’ve tried sharpening all pencils myself. I’ve tried refusing to sharpen a pencil. I’ve tried including it in my behavior plan. I’ve tried ignoring it.

Can you sense the frustration in my words? It’s been over a year since I set foot in a classroom, and pencils can still get my blood pressure up!

For me a whole new element to the pencil situation was added when I switched from third grade to second. Second graders are so cute. I loved my short time with them. I may want to teach only second grade when I go back. But there is one think nobody warned me about second graders: they don’t know how to use pencil sharpeners. They can be taught, yes, everyone can be taught almost anything. But when those cute little seven-year-olds entered the threshold of my classroom on the first day of school, a pencil sharpener may as well have been a pilot’s control center.

Last night while catching up on my blog reading, I came across this life-changing idea from Kate at The Wise Owl. She blogs about “The Great Pencil War.” She talks about this genius idea. Basically supply students up front with a pencil pouch and eight pencils for the week and reward students who still have eight pencils at the end of the week. Simple! I think it would certainly take work especially to get started, so hopefully when I go back to the classroom, I will have a really great pencil sharpener and a really great volunteer helper because I must make this my new pencil plan!

She even has a FREE (I love FREE!) item in her TPT store that outlines the pencil plan and has cute little printable reward slips that say “I am a friend of pencils.” There are even “Oops” slips for students who don’t quite have all the pencils at the end of the week. Check it out.

This picture is from “The Wise Owl.” Click on it to grab the freebie from her TPT store!

You may be like my husband and saying, “Now Sarah, aren’t you getting a little too worked up about pencils?” All I can say is: You. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

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  1. Melissa

    I LOVE the idea of the pencil wars! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. I tried to email you back a reply, but you’re a no reply blogger.

    1. usingmyteachervoice

      aaah, I had to google that to figure out what that means. Ooops! I think I fixed it. Thanks for letting me know!


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