Surviving the Pencil Problem!

Pencils.  Pencils.  Pencils.

I have a love/hate relationship with pencils.  I love the yellow #2 pencils that are so nice and sharp and long with a full eraser, but let's be honest... they only stay that way for a day or two and then they look a little something like this:

Well there are many things I have patience for in the classroom, but by the end of the school year the constant sharpening of pencils just really gets on my nerves!  Please tell me you agree!  So I decided it was time to step it up a notch and implement "The Great Pencil Challenge" in my classroom.  The idea is NOT MINE!  All credit goes to the sweet blogger behind Ladybug's Teacher Files and you can read all about it {HERE} and {HERE} and get her FREE files for it {HERE}.  And if you haven't read her blog before, what are you waiting for?!  She has so many great ideas and FREE printables on her blog.  She was one of the first blogs I started following and I seriously can't say enough good things about her!

I changed her idea up a bit and used mechanical pencils!  How fun!  The kiddos felt so grown up!

Basically, I gave my students mechanical pencils (numbered with their classroom #) and gave them the challenge.  Who can keep up with their pencil the longest?  Each week we check in on Friday and those who still have their pencil get a small treat or reward of some kind.  They also get to sign our board.  You would be seriously amazed at how much this little bit of challenge motivated so many of my students to keep up with their pencils AND use the lead sparingly.  This is how I displayed Ladybug's Teacher Files FREE Printables that I linked to above.

You can see I displayed the checklist which I laminated so that I can write on it with a dry-erase marker and use it again next year.  I displayed the next check-in date.  That Friday I recorded the stats (how many students kept their pencils), and then the students were allowed to sign the board under the Pencil Honors sign if they still had their pencils.  

Isn't Ladybug's Teacher Files SO talented?!  Her printables are always so beautiful!  If you've been hanging around my Blog on Bloglovin', my Faceboook Page, or my Instagram long enough, you also know that her style matches my classroom perfectly - black and brights!  Kudos to my sweet friend and her talents!  Go check out her blog!  You won't be sorry!

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Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Jamie, this was the first blog post I read on my summer vacation (last day today!!!) and I can't begin to tell you how moved I was! Thank you so, so much...for the kind words, the links, for being a wonderful friend!!!! I am absolutely thrilled the pencil challenge stuff was of help. I switched to mechanical too this year and it's been a dream--and SO quiet without the sharpener going! Thank you so much Jamie, for everything!! ♥ ♥ ♥

  2. I have a few quick questions concerning your laminator. We have a larger machine here at school for our unlimited use and yet I still find myself drawn to the possibility of owning a smaller one for personal use at home. Does your school provide you a laminating option or was your personal machine bought out of necessity? If your school does own a machine, what have you found to be the advantages of having your own at home?

  3. I'm crazy too...i like changing rooms! This is the first summer in 5 years that I don't have to change rooms, but we do have to take everything off the walls this summer so I get to re-do it all :) Can't wait!

  4. Kristen, you are more than welcome, my friend! Your work is more than deserving!

    Gina, we do have a laminator at my school. I just prefer the thicker, more sturdy lamination that comes from a machine like the one shown above. There are no wrinkles, bubbles, or curling and the lamination never peels. The only downfall is that it only laminates letter size paper, nothing larger (so no posters or anything large). I purchased the personal laminator with my own money, but I think it was well worth the purchase. It came from Wal-Mart and I paid about $30 for it. Here is a link to the exact one I have: Maybe you can copy and paste that link into your browser and check it out! I get my laminating sleeves from Sam's Club where I get 200 sheets for about $20 and that lasts me a while. I LOVE mine and the convenience of having it at home is so nice! I was laminating and watching my favorite TV shows last night! :)

    Miss Kindergarten, glad I'm not the only crazy one! Have fun decorating!! ;)

  5. Thank you so much for your reply! I appreciate your input and I think it sealed the deal for an upcoming purchase! :)

  6. I moved schools and grade levels this year and that is when I found your blog! I am now a second grade teacher and I will be stalking, I mean reading your blog a lot! Can you do me a favor? I am looking for sample second grade schedules I know everyone's specials are different but I would like to see how much time to devote to each area each day. Thanks!

  7. Hi Tobi, thanks for stopping by my blog! I actually wrote a blog post about a typical day in my 2nd grade classroom and it includes a sample schedule. You can check it out here:

  8. I am going to try out the mechanical pencils this year!! I love the Pencil Challenge! Can't wait to use it! OH, and I am just like you with moving!! I'm moving for the 2nd year in a row, but this time I'm looping to 3rd. So I'm trying to create new things as well as keep some old so it's still new for my kids!! :) I love it!

    Nicole :)
    All Things Apple in 2nd

  9. Love the Pencil Challenge! What a creative way to solve a common classroom problem!

  10. I also go to schools and grade levels this year from now and that is the point at which I discovered your site! I am currently a second grade teacher and I will be stalking, I mean perusing your online journal a considerable measure! Could you help me out? I am searching for example second review plans I know everybody's specials are diverse however I might want to perceive the amount time to dedicate to every range every day. I would like to say Thanks for sharing such a nice ideas. Here i also like to share my website which is
    Math Addition

  11. AwesomeAwesomeAwesome!!!! Yeah, you’ve got a fan in me!