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Control Pencil Chaos Once and For All!

I don't like waste. I was shocked when my students were going through so many pencils a week, not because they were using them, but because they were losing them!

I tried a couple of methods, but none compare to what I'm about to teach you!

Implementing this in your classroom in the first week of school sets up the tone for the rest of the year!Control Pencil Chaos Once and For All

This is how I got that pencil chaos under control!

You will need:

  • 2 containers. One labeled "Sharp Pencils" and one labeled "Used Pencils"
  • 4 sharp pencils per student plus a few extra (about 10 more should do)
  • A heavy duty electric pencil sharpener

1. Use any two containers you want. I prefer pencil boxes, but little buckets work too.
Label each container to show which one will have the sharp pencils and witch one will have the used pencils.

Control Pencil Chaos Once and For All
Download the labels here.

2. Sharpen lots and lots of pencils, about 4 per student. This is the only time you'll have to sharpen so many.

*This is the kind of job you can ask a parent volunteer to do for you.

3. Start your students with 2 sharp pencils each and place the remaining sharp pencils in your pencil box labeled "Sharp Pencils".

4. Explain to your students that they will always start their day with two sharp pencils. All they have to do is give you their 2 used pencils and you will hand them their sharp ones. (This is VERY important for this plan to work!)

5. Explain that if they only hand you 1 pencil the next day, they will only receive 1 sharp pencil back. If they don't have any pencils, they are welcome to look around on the floor for one, dig in their desks, or see if a friend has an extra pencil that they can borrow.

6. The next day, once your students are settled and working, call a few students at a time to come exchange their pencils. Take the used ones and give out sharp ones.

Control Pencil Chaos Once and For All
Give 2, Take 2!

7. Take this time to look at each student and to be excited about handing them their sharp pencils.
Kids feel your vibes and they internalize that little reward of feeling good when they have their pencils!

8. When students comes up short (they will), be careful not to shame them. Just be casual about suggesting that they look around and join the line when they have a pencil. Ask them what they might do differently to have their pencils the next morning.

9. After talking to a student who lost pencils and looked around for them, give them a 2nd chance to start fresh with a set of 2 pencils.


Control Pencil Chaos Once and For All

At the end of the day, grab the used pencils box and sharpen your pencils. (This was my down time when I listened to music on my phone and chilled for a second.)
➜ OH! This also works wonders for glue sticks! Want a new one? Give me your old one!

Something to Ponder

I know you may be thinking that there is no time for this, but this little morning routine takes 5 minutes, it really works,  and it teaches your students important life skills:

Control Pencil Chaos Once and For All

  • How to make eye contact when interacting with someone
  • Saying thank you when given something
  • How to be accountable for their actions (if they didn't put their pencils away and lost them)
  • How to think about choices and make better ones 
  • Feeling that "feel good" intrinsic reward when they are responsible.

Feel free to email me at if you have questions about this process! I'd love to hear from you and brainstorm solutions for any issues you might face when implementing this plan!

For more classroom management tips check out these posts:

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