There are many different solutions to the great pencil problem. Let's take a peak at a few different ideas.
1 - Pencil Stations: These are usually made out of wood with drilled holes for the pencils to stand up in. They can be easily made or found on Etsy. A colleague of mine added pencil flags to hers so she can see who borrowed a pencil.
2 - Pocket Chart: Use a pocket chart to hold each individual students pencils. They come over and get what they need. You can easily see who is missing their pencils or needs a new one.
3 - Toothbrush Holders: Travel toothbrush holders are the perfect size to store pencils in it. Each student keeps their pencils inside and then they store them in their desk.
4 - Pencil War Game: There are many different ways to reward students for still having their pencils at the end of the month. You can do it by team or by individual. Rewards vary but the point is to help students be responsible for their own pencils.
5 - Community Supplies: Sharp and dull containers are provided and students simply change out the pencils as needed.
6 - Magnetic boards: similar to the pencil station above but uses a magnetic board instead.
What you do depends upon you. All of these are a great idea. Just make sure that whatever you choose you are consistent and use it all year long.
My Current Solution
Rethinking Next Year
With COVID-19 everything seems to be changing. I have a lot of community supplies in my classroom. I am wondering if community supplies are a thing of the past. If they are, this will mean that I will have to make changes to how I do pencils. Maybe 2 pencils a month per student and extras on the side for them to take and keep.
This also changes the sharpening of pencils policy. Right now, I sharpen them all. Why? Too many broken pencil sharpeners. This allows me to ensure that the pencil sharpener does not get broken. They sharpen colored pencils on their own. If I sharpen them as I do now, they will be mixed together. Do I assign days/times to sharpen? How do I decrease the germ count in this area? Do I Lysol the pencils in the box daily?
What are your thoughts? Does COVID change the pencil policies in your room?
Still Contemplating Pencils,
Hi! My name is Misty. I am a 6th Grade ELA Teacher, Mama of 5, and author of The Path to Passionate Teaching.