EDIT: I had first graders. I will have the same grade this year as well. Last year, pencils drove me CRAZY by which I mean, I probably wasted 30 minutes to an hour a day dealing with them. Whether it was sharpening, settling arguments over whose pencil was whose, cleaning up marks all over the floor, supplying pencils. etc. Here are some of the things I tried - 1) Sharpen your own pencil (didn't work because then kids would purposely break their pencil so they'd have an excuse to get up) 2) Bring three sharpened pencils to school everyday (worked well for those responsible kids. still, i'd have 10 or more who NEVER had a pencil.) 3) Sharpening pencils in the morning and leaving them in my cup for kids to take who didn't have a pencil (i was forever having to buy new packs of pencils because some kids would take them and not give back and I'm doing a million things during the day and would forget) 4) Whenever someone drops a pencil, I'd have like 4 or 5 of my hyper boys dive onto the floor to pick it up because they want an excuse to be out their seats 5) Told the students if you broke your pencil two or three times after I sharpened it, you would not get another one and would get a sad face on your work (didn't work because i had one or two kids who were more than happy to sit at their seats with no pencil and bother other students who were trying to get their work done) Other issues I had - 5a) I would sharpen ALL the pencils. We do one brief writing assignment and I tell the kids to put the pencils away. 15 minutes later, I would ask the kids to take out the pencils again for something else and I have 10 saying their pencils aren't sharpened and 2 or 3 who don't know where their pencils are!!!! ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!! 5b) Kids stealing pencils out of other kids desk 5c) Kids who refuse to use a pencil with a "bad" eraser

What a nightmare! I have no tolerance at all for pencil issues, and can happily say that I have NO pencil issues. My policy, which I clarify on the welcome letter to parents, is that in order to be prepared for class, students must bring in 3 sharpened pencils. I do allow time for pencil sharpening in the morning only, before instruction begins. If a student breaks a point, they have two more pencils available to use. They may not sharpen at all during the day. If a student is unprepared with their three pencils, they receive a mark in my book for being unprepared, and I then have many dull, worn down crayons that they can choose from to use as a writing utensil. This works like a charm. No one wants to write with a dull, worn down crayon. Students never come to me if they are without a pencil. They either borrow one from a friend, or they make sure they are prepared with their own. I have used this policy with the lowest SES population, and get the same excellent results, so it really has nothing to do with the income level of the population.

I do 'take a pencil, leave a pencil'...One basket with about 30 sharpened pencils in it, one basket for pencils the kids leave for sharpening. Works pretty well. Also have a basket of pencil cap erasers. Put erasers and personal hand-held sharpeners on your kids' supply list.

I have gone as far as numbering a class set of pink pearl erasers. I collected them at the end of class. If I didn't get it back or it was damaged I gave a consequence for disrespect to property. I have also used crayons and some kids actually liked writing in crayon. I keep the sharpener unplugged during the day. I will only plug it in from 7:30 to 8:00. At 7:50 I will announce a ten minute warning and set a timer. When the timer goes off so does the sharpener. If the kids are late, they get to borrow from a friend or deal with a crayon. I don't have time for pencil issues! If parents question why something was written in crayon I tell them their kid was unprepared for class so I gave them crayon to write with.

Teacher Lyn, You are not alone with this problem. I must laugh as I had nearly all of the same problems you did for over a decade of teaching primary grades. Let's start with what I have found won't work, and what has worked fairly well. As you noticed #1 (sharpening their own pencils) won't ever work well and #2 (bringing sharpened pencils) will only work for some. What has worked well for me is this method. If you do just one step, it will not work--but the steps together work well. 1. Write a letter to parents in a gentle but clear way that you need children to bring a dozen sharpened pencils to school--I send the letter home on Friday and have the pencils due back the following Friday. 2. I have a SMALL incentive for the group of 4 who brings in a total of 40 sharpened pencils or more. I let them know each child can bring in as many as they want to help their group. This allows a couple of children to go wild and bring lots of pencils. 3. Trust me--you still won't have enough pencils. What I do is I get a lot of pencils myself on sale. I find them as cheap as 5-6/cents per pencil when I buy in bulk or wait for back to school sales. 4. I then do 2 things. I get sharpening them myself. I also try to get a couple of children to bring home the pencils to have the parents help sharpen them. I work in the inner-city, but I find plenty of parents to do this. After awhile I have nearly 1,000 pencils between the children's desks and my supply--all sharpened. 5. Then, I don't allow students to sharpen pencils except for the Pencil managers. At first, I make sure children have 3 pencils sharpened before they go home. I assign 2 students to be my pencil managers who sharpen pencils. They sharpen near the end of the day while others clean up and do the other end of the day jobs. They collect the students pencils and place them in a container. Then we pass them out. 6. All pencils turned in are collective. No one is guaranteed the same pencils back. If there is a child who must have the same pencil, I let them take it home and sharpen it at home. (There often is a shy student who is really good about taking care of his/her own pencils, and getting in his/her way is counter productive.) 7. If pencils drop on the floor, I only allow students who drop them to pick them up. I do say if I don't find any pencils on the floor there will be 5 minutes of extra recess. If I find more than 5 pencils on the floor, I will take off 5 minutes of recess. 8. Erasers--your best investment. I make sure each student has onelarge pink one--I require it and usually 5 or 6 don't bring one (sigh). I end up supplying ONE eraser to them from my own money (hey--they are cheap at back to school time). If children still have their eraser after 1 quarter they get a special day to eat with the teacher and play a game after we finish eating. So, I do say they need to accept the pencil they get (I say it nicer--but I'm saving space here.) This might seem like much, and you might need to adapt to your personality and classroom. Without a clear plan though I have found the pencils can be clearly a nightmare. Good luck!

I assign each of my students a number. I then write that number onto each pencil with Sharpie. At the start of each month they are given a new pencil. They know it needs to last them the month so they use the eraser sparingly. I am the only one to sharpen pencils and I need to "approve" it's need to be sharpened. We use hand signals to ask to have the pencils sharpened and so there is no disruption. It seems over the top, but it works perfectly. I also hated pencils for a long time. The first few weeks of school involve some training, but it's worth it to have an easy year. There are times during the day when I'll say, "I'm sharpening pencils if yours really needs to be sharpened." Again, I look at it and decide if it really needs to be sharpened.

This is what I do too. It's a student job to sharpen them at the end of the day. ALL pencils are plain yellow. As a class reward, we have bring a special pencil from home day.

I do this too...seemed to work for the year. I would also invest in a good automatic sharpener. I know it sounds crazy but everyone in my grade level used some of their budget money to buy a 65$ heavy duty pencil sharpener. It even has a little light that goes on when your pencil is sharp and stops...so you don't have any kiddos standing there sharpening their whole pencil away. Best thing I ever bought!!!! Totally worth every penny. I also don't let the kids touch the pencil sharpener unless it is their job for the day. If it is their job, they will sharpen all the pencils in the 'dull' jar first thing in the morning. I let them sharpen after recess too. Seems to work for me.

I have tried writing their number on their pencil but my students will wipe it off! I go through the same headaches as the OP! I HATE PENCILS! BUT, I won't do mechanical ones either because I think they are too young for them as all they do is sit there and play with the lead and break it. Last year, I gave my students 2 pencils sharpened and told them they MUST last throughout the whole week. On Fridays I collect their dull pencils (ok'd by me if they are "dull" or not) and trade them with sharpened ones. I then sharpen their dull ones on Friday, usually after school, so they are ready for the following Friday to trade with. The system went pretty well BUT... I get tired of hearing the occasional student say "I don't know where my pencil is" me: "did you put it in your pencil box after you used it last time?" they either say: "yes, someone got into it" (unlikely story) or "no" I constantly see random pencils on the floor or in random spots after school. This year I'm going to be mean lol YOU are responsible for your pencil. I don't want to hear any excuse that you have lost it or "someone stole it". Keep your pencils in your box when you are done using them and you will always have a pencil. I HATE PENCILS!

Please don't waste precious classroom time on the pencil issue. My students bring 36 penicls to school at the beginning of the year, that's one a week. All the pencils become community property and I keep them sharpened. I have a can with new pencils and one with used ones. Just like czacza, they trade a used for a new one. It's not an issue, if you make it a big deal the kids will too.

Couldn't agree with you more, Hoot!! :thumb: Limiting kids to 2 pencils per week with no sharpening, getting frustrated over kids needing pencils, not letting kids have pencils...just all seems like a power struggle, waste of time. I wouldn't want to be treated that way, I wouldn't want my kids treated that way. There are so many other really important things to put our energies in to rather than being pencil wardens.

You could have just said my name instead of being so passive aggressive about it. So WHAT if I do this or others do it as well? Someone asked for suggestions so we did. It's called teaching the kids responsibility. Next time if you don't like a suggestion then just offer a different one or a different perspective instead of being passive aggressive like this. VERY unnecessary.

I don't understand how limiting kids to 2 pencils which can not be sharpened for the remainder of the week is teaching responsibility.

My kids are to sharpen 2 pencils in the morning. Then again at lunch time they are allowed to resharpen. I also have a basket of sharp pencils in the room if they both happen to break during class. They just trade an unsharpened for a sharpened one. We're switching classes this year, so I need to maybe readjust how this will work, but once I talk to my teammate we'll come up with one plan! *My kids would not ever last a whole week with only 2 pencils and them not being sharpened again...just my 2 cents..

Totally agree! My students bring in 12 or more yellow pencils at the beginning of the year. These are placed in a container under my desk. Each student has 2 pencils to start the year off. Students sharpen first thing of a morning and at study time if absolutely necessary. We have the pinky rule: If it's shorter than your pinky-trash it. Some students find it a challenge to sharpen and use the smallest pencil. Students may get a new pencil at the beginning of the week, if necessary. We also have a sharpened cup of pencils, but only put 5-6 in it. My class had plenty of pencils for the year, I even have some left over. No requests were needed to send more pencils.

THANK YOU EVERYONE for the wonderful suggestions! I'm going to give several of them a try because I CANNOT go through another year being driven insane by pencils. That's my STUDENTS job.:lol:

Ok the price has gone down! This is the link to the most amazing pencil sharpener. http://www.quill.com/x-acto-teacher-pro-desktop-electric-pencil/cbs/216750.html?cm_mmc=SEM-_-Yahoo-_-x-acto%20teacher%20pro%20desktop%20electric%20pencil%20sharpener-_-category

That pencil sharpener looks amazing! I'm getting one for sure. Last year I had the problem where my students would over sharpen the pencil and it would break again. This looks like it will get rid of that problem.

We have manual pencil sharpeners on the wall in each classroom; the caretakers replace the blade apparatus when it gets dull. I don't allow students to sharpen pencils when I'm teaching, but when they are working, I don't mind--it's never been a problem. Pencils is not a battle I choose to fight. I buy some every year with my supply money and am usually seen after school picking them up off the floor in the classroom and the halls after the rooms are swept.

i love that sharpener!! I also recommend having a bucket of Kindergarten pencils for when they need an extra, they don't break that easily

My teacher during student teaching did the same thing...I plan on doing it too this year...but if a student did NOT have a pencil to put into the leave a pencil cup, they had to ask a neighbor or use a crayon..

I do the same thing. If I'm not teaching have at it. Never had a problem. My students that walk home are the last to leave my room everyday so they pick up any pencils that are on the floor and put them in a cup. I put 12 pencils in the cup every 9wks. When they're gone, they're gone. I do have 3 fat kindergardenish pencils with no erasers that the kids can barrow from me in a pinch. Usually they try to get one from someone else because they hate the fat pencils. I will trade pencils though. If a student's pencil is less that 2 inches long they can bring it to me and I'll give them a brand new one.

When I taught 1st grade I had students use the thick yellow pencils. I would then write their name and number with a permanent black sharpie. Each student received 3 initially and I would give them out as needed. Once I ran out, I would send a note home to parents and then would purchase more pencils when needed. These pencils would rarely break and I would rarely spend that much time sharpening them as well. In addition, I used these pencil cases with a zipper from Beckers supplies. These pencil cases have by far been the best type of pencil case I have used within the 8 years I have been teaching. Once a week or so I would have the students bring home their pencil cases to be cleaned and organized as part of their homework. The next day I would do random checks on their pencil cases. If the pencil case that I checked was neat and organized I would give them a treat. This seemed to keep them super organized and they were all eager and proud to show me their pencil cases even if they weren't getting a treat.

Sometimes kids don't have a pencil because pencils get short and unusable, or an afterschool class used the room and someone took a pencil out of a desk, or just because there's a monster who comes at night and eats pencils...As educators we want kids to succeed- pencils are one of the tools for such success. I personally don't want to read a paper that's been written in crayon, nor do I want to stress kids out over a pencil. That's why I have the take one , leave one policy. If a kid doesn't have a pencil to leave, no big deal...I don't stand over the basket to see who is taking one, who is leaving pencils...sometimes a kid will find extra pencils in his/her desk and leave 7 or 8 in the basket, sometimes a kid doesn't have one to leave...not going to lose sleep over it...I think we all have better things to do with our time.

those thick "Laddie" pencils by Ticonderoga are the BEST. That's all I use in the art room because they don't need to be sharpened every five seconds, they are harder to break, and they work well. I sharpen 4 or 5 of them for each table that I keep on a basket on the table, and one or two pink erasers. I usually don't need to sharpen them again until the next morning. I have a super quick sharpener, so it only takes a min to sharpen all off them. I have extra pencils in a cup on the counter in case someone needs it, but rarely do they have to sharpen during class time. On my sharpener I have a sign that reads "World's Fastest Sharpener. Put your pencil in and count to 4 and you are DONE.". I usually hear kids counting when they are using it. haha

I was hoping to stop ordering classroom things.....but I think I'll get that sharpener!!! Thanks for sharing.

Good topic! I have tried many ways to fix the pencil problem. Different groups of kids needed different solutions. I have done the labeling pencil thing (I used student's initials) with one group that worked well. The past two years I went to pencil baskets on the student's tables. (I used plain yellow pencils that students brought at the beginnning of the year. When we ran low, I just mentioned it in the newletter.) At the end of each day students could place unsharpened pencils in the basket to be sharpened by me. That afternoon I sharpened all the pencils and placed the baskets back on the tables. Of course some tables had 3 pencils in them and others had 10-15. I usually just placed them equally. Every once in a while I would check students desks for more than 3 pencils. Extras were placed in the pencil boxes. If students had special pencils they wanted me to sharpen, I asked them to give it to me at the end of the day and I would put it in their desk. This worked well and the students rarely complained of not having a pencil. :thumb:

This is a huge management issue for me this year. I have bought pencils 1-2 times every month because my kids eat them or something. I have not tried labeling them, so I think I will start that next year. "Take a pencil/Leave a pencil" didn't work cause my kids stole them all. They are also so rough with them. I don't understand how the eraser is gone SEVEN hours after I give you this pencil. Apparently I need to do a mini-lesson on pencils. I also tried the crayon/marker thing and they are thrilled with it or they say refuse to do any work. Ugggh.

I also use the pencil in-pencil out method. The baskets stay on my desk and I have a child who sharpens every morning. It is her job to replenish the basket as pencils wear out. I pay very little attention to the basket. My children write all day long and sometimes have to exchange pencils three or more times per day. They know that we need to have a supply of sharpened pencils and most of the time they are cooperative. One situation that I personally deal with are the few children who intentionally break off the erasers. Those children receive a special pencil from the basket of pencils with no erasers. It is their responsibility to bring in an eraser from home.

This thread is 2 years old, but in case anyone was going to use the previous link to buy this sharpener for $44.99, note that you can get it for just $39.99 through this link on Amazon.

One thing I always try to instill in my students is that all pencils I give them belong to me and I am just letting kids use them. What happens is that half of the students will drop a pencil on the floor and that pencil will vanish from their reality and no longer exist. The other half of the students will constantly "find" pencils on the floor and keep them. I remind them that if they collect a large number of pencils, I can take them at any time and give them to kids that don't have pencils. This has worked quite well for me.

I purchased 25 plastic pencil boxes (they have a button that snaps to close) from Staples last year. Each box has a number. I fill each box with 15 sharpened pencils in Sept. Each student has a number in my room, thus a corresponding pencil box. When they need a pencil they go to their box. I keep them in a large plastic container. If their box empties they ask a friend for a pencil. This works well for me. I restock the boxes in Dec. and again at the end of March. I also have a "lost and found" box for pencils, markers, and crayons. Many make use of this also.

^OHhhhhHHHHHHHHHHhhhh! I like this better than numbering pencils. Maybe I'll do both. Can't claim somebody stole yours and you can't have one that isn't yours! And I can see who's wasting all their pencils.

I also assign numbers to my 1st graders. All supplies in my class are community supplies, so every couple of weeks, each child receives a new pencil with their number written on it with black Sharpie (as posted by a previous writer). I have a "broken pencil" cup in which students are required to place pencils that need sharpening (I also have a "supply clerk" who gathers pencils in need at the end of the day). I also have a "sharp pencil" cup that holds extra sharpened pencils, each marked with a black sharpie ring around the wooden part of pencil just above the metal that holds the eraser. That way, I know it is one of "mine." Each day before I leave the classroom, I sharpen all pencils (with my electric sharpener that NO student ever touches), place the numbered pencils on student desks along with their "morning" work, and "my" pencils go back in the "sharp" pencil cup. Sounds complicated, I know, but it's the best way I have come up with so far! The only real problem I have had this year is students "shopping" through my extra pencils to find one with an eraser or long enough to suit them, etc. I also give each student a pink bevel eraser on which I have written their numbers in sharpie. I hope this makes sense!