In my class, all supplies are communal and we have pencil/stationary supply holders on each table.
If your classroom is anything like mine, by the end of the day you probably end up with a pile of pencils that started the day all nice and sharp and perfect and end up… well, not so sharp any more!
AND, if I let my gorgeous kiddos at the pencil sharpeners, I end up with pencils the length of a coin, which is not all that useful really.
After getting ridiculously sick of hearing the same old ‘Can you sharpen my pencil, Miss Galvin?!’ question over and over (and always in the middle of a small group!) I implement what has become a great time-saver:
The Pencil Exchange!
During working time, if students have a blunt pencil (that absolutely will not do for whatever task they’re working on) they can place it in the ‘Blunt’ bucket and select a ‘Sharp’ pencil and continue working in their space. No more calling out, no more wandering around from table to table looking for that elusive grey lead pencil.
Generally speaking, I only have out enough pencils for 1 per child plus around 10 extra pencils in case some go walkabout, or we have extra visitors in our room.
(Note: I have it on good authority that my Northern Hemisphere friends like to use the term ‘dull‘ for pencils that need to be sharpened. You’ll have to forgive my Australian-ness!)
I just reused some cute little buckets I purchased last year, along with some chalkboard labels and a chalkboard pen and I was good to go!
At the end of the day, it’s easy to sharpen the pencils in the ‘Blunt’ bucket and have them ready for the following day. I keep all our sharpeners in a little Ikea box next to the buckets.
You could also train up some kids as Pencil Sharpeners who are responsible for ensuring the ‘Blunt’ bucket is emptied at the end of the day.
I’m fortunate enough to teach opposite a Grade 3/4 class and occasionally borrow some of the older students to come and sharpen the pencils, too, which is another great time-saving tip!
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