You Oughta Know About Winning The Pencil War

When I was a kid, I loved school supplies. I mean really LOVED them. Crisp white sheets of paper, bright markers, a brand new pink eraser, binders, notebooks, index cards. What could be better? It's secretly why I became a teacher. (You too? We should start a club!)

I still love school supplies. Well, most of them. I seem to have developed a love/hate relationship with the King of all school supplies. That's right... the Number 2 Pencil. My classroom is perpetually littered with them. It's not just yellow number 2s that I hate... blue ones, plain wood ones, and especially the ones with pictures all over them that peel off and clog up your pencil sharpener. I hate that my students regularly stick in a nub and sharpen it until it's jammed inside of the machine. Most of all, I hate that they spread their pencil love all over my classroom floor on a daily basis...

So what's a teacher to do? There's actually a solution. Something I used a few years ago when I had the worst class on Earth (the ones who purposefully stuffed things down the toilet to make it overflow on a daily basis). I don't know why I forgot about this. Maybe because I've had such lovely students since then. But the pencils are starting to make me crazy, so it might be time to pull out the big guns...

So what is this little miracle? A wonderful teacher named Mrs. Hazelton created a FREE resource called "Winning The Pencil War" to help us all stay on top of the pencil problem. Here's the gist...
  • Give each kid their own pencil pouch with 8 sharpened pencils.
  • They keep track of their pencils all week.
  • Collect the pouches on Friday.
  • Reward the ones who kept all 8 pencils in good condition.
There's a bit more to it than that, but not much. It's very simple to implement and she includes complete instructions and the little coupons you'll be using. If you're smart, you'll assign a student to collect the pouches on Friday and pass them out again Monday morning. I found that having two baskets made it even easier. Students who knew they didn't keep all 8 pencils put their pouches into one basket. The ones who thought they did a good job put theirs in the other basket. Checking them was a breeze! As an extra motivation, I occasionally left a little treat in the good bags.

Once I started using this system, my pencil woes were over. It really worked! Like I said, my classes since then have been quite lovely and I haven't had much of a pencil war going on. But with spring fever setting in and my room looking like the pictures above on a pretty regular basis, this might be the perfect time to pull out my pencil pouches once more.

(Here's a little tip: If pencil bags aren't in your budget right now, quart size freezer bags work quite well.)

So now that you know about this little sanity-saver, what about your pencil sharpener? Does it sound like a dentist's drill gone awry? Do your pencils come out looking like they were gnawed by a beaver? Then you will want to know about the The Quietest Classroom Sharpener. It's super fast and sharpens better than any electric sharpener I've ever seen. It even takes care of those cheap-o pencils from China with the lead that just falls out all the time. Take a look...

Looks pretty good, huh? You can buy one from Classroom Friendly Supplies or you can win your own super awesome sharpener right here:

Good luck! Now head on over to the blog hop to see what else "you oughta know about"!


  1. Pencils are the never ending struggle. Seriously. My husband doesn't understand how we go through so many. To be fair, I can't understand either. Where do they go?? We have a pencil monster, I swear. I am a new follower, and fellow "you oughta know" blogger! :)

    Caffeine and Lesson Plans

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Mandy! I don't get it either. I think the kids must eat the pencils. It's the only explanation!

  3. So smart! Thanks for sharing this brilliant piece of pencil wisdom!

    Mrs. Plemons' Kindergarten

  4. Honestly I would love ANY color. Several teachers at my school have this sharpener and it is AMAZING! Any color would be better than the wall-attached old fashioned pencil sharpener I am using now!

  5. What do you do about students who have 8 dull or broken pencils by Wednesday?

  6. Love this idea! Do you label the collection baskets? Do you have a mini celebration at the end of the year for those who kept pencils all year? Or is each week a new "war" so you just give out the smaller prizes?

  7. I can’t figure out which sharpener you recommend. There are several listed.


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