The Solution to NOT Sharpening Pencils ALL THE TIME

March 12, 2017

Do you feel like you are constantly finding pencils on the floor? Do you feel like your students are always needing a new pencil….at the most inconvenient time? Do you feel like you’re constantly sharpening pencils?

You are not alone! I felt like this for a long time….until a co-worker told me about pencil pouches! They are life-changing!

What you need:

  • A zipper pouch
  • Seven pencils for each student
  • An index card for each student
  • A pink eraser (optional)

YEP! That’s IT!

How It Works

  1. Put seven sharpened pencils in the pouch.
  2. Write the student’s name on an index card.
  3. At the end of each week, check their pencil pouch.
    • I write the date and if they still have all seven pencils (if doesn’t matter if they are still sharp or not) they get a smiley face on their index card next to the date. If they don’t have all seven pencils, I place an ‘x’ on their index card next to the date.
  4. Sharpen or replace the unsharp pencils and leave the still sharpened pencils in the pouch.
  5. After three smiley faces – or three weeks in a row of having all seven pencils – the students get in the treasure box.
  6. After a student has earned the treasure box, I put a line under the last date and start over on the same index card.

Preparation at the beginning of the year

At the very beginning of each year, I fill each student’s pencil pouch with seven sharpened pencils, an index card with their name on it (this lasts the entire year…if they don’t lose it) and a pink eraser. The pink eraser is optional, but I have found that it works well because pencils often lose their erasers far before the pencil is unusable. I tell the students about pencil pouches and how the goal is to keep all seven pencils throughout the entire week.  If a pencil breaks, put it back in the pouch and get another one. If you find a pencil on the floor, check around to see if it’s someone else’s, if no one claims the pencil, put it in your pencil pouch. This way, it mostly keeps the floor clean of pencils and there is an incentive to keep up with your own pencils. I make a really big deal about pencil pouches at the beginning of the year and we talk about them frequently. This helps the students buy-in to the idea that the pencils are their responsibility. I also make a big deal about not hoarding pencils and if I notice that a student always has way more than their seven pencils, meaning they are taking over student’s pencils, they will not get their smiley face. I believe this stops the students from trying to take pencils that aren’t theirs because they realize they will not get their reward. This is my 3rd year using pencil pouches, and they work wonderfully!

Weekly Up-Keep 

On Friday’s, I go around and check the pencil pouches to see who has their pencils for the week. I always keep pre-sharpened pencils in a tub and this is how I replace unsharpened pencils. I have a coworker who sharpens the unsharp pencils right there on the spot and gives it back to the student. I think either way works well! I have the students stay at their desks and get out their pencils and their index card and separate the pencils between “sharp” and “unsharp”. This way, I can go around to each desk and easily count their pencils and see which ones need to be replaced. I place a smiley or an ‘x’ right there on their index card, they put their pencils and card back in their pencil pouch and I continue moving around the room. It is a very easy process and only takes about 10 minutes!

Good luck and I hope this solves all of your pencil sharpening problems!

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