. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: Pencils?

Thursday, February 24, 2011


You don't need no stinkin' pencils.

At least that's what we're telling our students.

You see, pencils have become the most sought after commodity in 4th grade at our school. No matter how many we supply the students with, they all disappear within a day or two.

Such a little issue. Such an enormous headache.

So we monitored the pencils. Handed them a pencil when they walked through the door in the morning, and ripped it from their sticky little fists at the end of the day. It was their ticket in or out of our rooms.

First day with a sub...

all the pencils disappeared.

So we got more pencils. Handed one to them in the morning and collected them each time they changed classes.

Next time we had a sub...

all the pencils disappeared.

So we begged the office to give us more pencils, which they are reluctant to do because we have certainly used more than our fair share of the pencil budget and they potentially could do nothing but get us more pencils (and fix all my attendance screw-ups...but that's a story for another day.)

Within two days...


all the pencils disappeared.

We made one final plea for pencils. We were granted more, however we were also nicely admonished (rightfully so) about our excessive pencil consumption.

And today, we had subs so we could attend a meeting...

but we still have all our pencils!

Because we hid them.

We gave the kids pens and made the bulk of the substitute's job being the Pen Police.

We tell the kids all the time that it's the little things in life that are going to  make or break your success.

I think this little thing is going to make or break my sanity.


Cheryl said...

I had this ridiculous problem in 4th grade a few years ago. They lose them, sharpen them to little tiny nubs for fun, etc. I actually numbered them and made them turn in the old stub for a new one that year. Like I didn't have more important things to do with my time.

Now I just don't put new ones out very often. If a kid can't find a pencil, I ask if someone has he can use. Of course, someone always has one. It works.

Bill Brown said...

I bought a few packs of golf pencils that I give out instead of regular pencils when I need to lend pencils out. They get the job done, but no one likes using them so they hold onto their regular "full size" pencils longer. I also give out smelly or colorful pencils as rewards sometimes and they will guard those with their lives.

Jane said...

What is it with kids and pencils? I teach first grade and it's the same! When we clean out our baskets it never fails that a couple of kids have like, five pencils, when they're only ever supposed to have one! I, too, tried a system where they had to turn one in to get a new one. And watch out if someone comes to school with a different and/or fancy pencil. It seems so petty to have all these "pencil policies" but you're right, it can be a huge headache. Thanks for your posts. You always make me laugh.

elysabeth said...

This is just like carrying a pocketbook - you always have pens and pencils in there but when you need one (for writing checks or to let the kids use for quiet time when out and about) you can't locate one in your pocketbook. Someone is always "borrowing" my pens and never returning them so I'm usually penless for the most part. Thanks for sharing this - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad, 50-state, mystery, trivia series

Where will the adventure take you next?


Mrs. Asher said...

1. I LOVE reading your blog!
2. I don't have this problem with pencils, but last year it happened with bandaids. The kids were literally going through 60 bandaids a week. I finally had to hide them and make them ask me each time they needed one. I teach 1st grade...enough said.

elysabeth said...

As for the "golf pencils" - you can pick up misprinted or slightly damaged (not sure of the correct term here) through a website called For Teachers Only - they usually have bulk pencils of everything you can think of for around $25 - for a gross (the last time I ordered pencils from there it was roughly that much - I need to order some more of the state ones so I can start using them as my giveaways again) - I think that's a great idea about the golf pencils since they are eraserless and the kids need the erasers - lol. E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad, 50-state, mystery, trivia series

Where will the adventure take you next?


Edna Lee said...

I love how many good ideas I got from all of you.

Thank you!

Mom not Mum (Sandy) said...

Too dang funny! Now I need to ask my kids teachers how they are on the pencil front. I might just have to send in a few packages if the kids have the same habits.

It gets better when you're in a highschool art class and you tell the kids they need their pencils for a drawing - a pencil and paper drawing. They look at you wondering where that little carousel went from 2nd grade...a 16 year old responsible for his own pencil? Are you serious?

Anonymous said...

There is a new place to share your ideas, thoughts and funny teaching stories with other Teachers Anonymously. Check it out today AnonymousApple.com

Kellie Yanek said...

I am an History Education Major and I work as at counselor at an after school program of elementary students k-5th. We have problems with pencils all the time. Students never brought pencils from their classroom and if they did, the pencils would be quite dull. When we lent them the pencils the after school program had we would always be missing quite a few. It got to the point to where we did not have any pencils left to give to lend to the students for their homework. We developed a system that if a student needed a pencil we would take one of their shoes and he or she would write her name down on the pencil sign in/out sheet. Students remembered to give back the pencils because they knew if they didn't the would not get their shoe back. We'd also make sure the students crossed their name off the pencil sheet. It works quite well.