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We do a pencil graph. For every day that a student makes it without replacing their pencil, they get a box filled in. The last child standing gets a “pencil champion” crown to wear, plus a special sticker. I also wrap a piece of colored duct tape near the pencil end, above the eraser, so they can’t over-sharpen.
In middle school, golf pencils are the way to go. The kids hate them, and they miraculously come up with a pencil when a golf pencil is all that’s available.
Loop in the Dojo
If you use Class Dojo, write the number of each student on a pencil. At the end of the day, ask students to hold up their pencils. If they have it, give them a positive point. If they don’t, take away two points. Then give them a new pencil. I used to go through about 20 pencils weekly. Now it’s [far fewer] each week!
Lead a Hunt
I have two cans of pencils and a bowl for erasers in my room. The students and I donate pencils to the bin. I tell them that I get some of the pencils from the floor in the hallway. I call it “roadkill.” Students think it’s hysterical. They find pencils all the time and bring them to my room.
Community sharp-pencil buckets: The students deposit the dull pencils in the dull bucket and grab a sharp one from another bucket!
Pencil wars or classroom economy — where they must buy a pencil, pay to sharpen at undesignated times, and buy erasers [with classroom “money”].
I give my students eight sharpened pencils and two erasers on Mondays. They keep them in pencil cups on their desks. On Fridays, I collect all the pencils. If students return all eight, they receive an award, such as classroom cash or stickers.
Keeper of the Pencils
“Pencil person” is one of our class jobs. Only he or she is allowed to use my extra-special sharpener. It’s hand-turned, very quiet, and sharpens like a champ. Plus, pencils always go in one of two containers: leave a pencil and take a pencil.
I use table caddies and buy wooden pencils that are painted different colors. Each table gets a different color, and the table group is responsible for their pencils. This makes it easier to narrow down who is destroying the pencils! For activities not at tables, I pass out regular yellow pencils and then collect them.
Creative classroom management strategies from fellow teachers and our experts.