Thursday, October 11, 2018


It never occurred to me as I entered my first year of teaching that I would need a pencil management system in my classroom.  Who would have thought that pencils could cause so many classroom distractions!?!  After almost ten years of teaching first graders I finally have settled on a system that is easy, low maintenance, and works for my students.

Over the years I have tried multiple systems such as labeling each pencil with the student's number, having cups on each student's desk for their pencils, etc.  I found that these systems just ended up being more work for me.

That's when I decided to implement a pencil drawer system.  Here is a little peek on how it works in my classroom...

First, I purchased some of the Sterilite 3-drawer storage bins.  I love these bins!  They come in different sizes and colors.  You can use these bins so many different ways in your classroom!


I decided to purchase the medium size Sterilite drawers so I would have plenty of storage space for a lot of pencils.

I labeled each drawer and added a simple picture so my first graders at the beginning of the year (that can't quite read yet) know which drawer is which.

The "SHARP" drawer has all the pencils that have already been sharpened and are ready for the students to use.  This drawer helps prevent any problems you might encounter with students sharpening their pencils during inappropriate times during the day, lines forming at the pencil sharpener, students who misplace their pencil, etc.

My students are allowed up to TWO sharpened pencils in their desk at a time.  They are not allowed to collect and hoard a big pile of pencils in their desk.  Therefore, if it's not one of the two pencils they are using it must be in the pencil drawers.  Anytime throughout the day if they need to exchange one of their pencils for a newly sharpened one they may.  They just quietly walk over to the drawers and quickly make the switch.  (I avoid putting any pencils in my drawers that have designs on them.  All of the pencils I use are the simple yellow pencils.  This prevents problems that might occur when students want a certain design pencil.)

The "DULL" drawer has all the pencils that need to be sharpened.  These pencils get sharpened at the end of the day and placed in the "SHARP" drawer.  To keep the workload off of me I have one student helper at the end of the day sharpen these pencils.  My student helper is then allowed to use my electric pencil sharper to sharpen all the pencils.  (I usually have one of my bus riders do this for me as they wait for their bus to be called for pickup.  This prevents any class time being used for this task.)

The "NEW" drawer has some new pencils stored there.  I decide when it's time for some of the old pencils to be thrown away and when new ones need to be added.  I usually go through the pencils in the drawers at the end of the week and decide if there are any that need to be thrown away and replaced with a new one.  These new pencils are also pre-sharpened so I don't have to spend any time sharpening them.  To keep a stock of new pencils sharpened I usually ask for parent volunteers to sharpen pencils at the beginning of the school year when the supplies come in.  *This is a great parent helper task that is something they can easily do at home.*  

We have also started asking for pre-sharpened pencils on our first grade supply list.  This is something we should have started doing a long time ago!

My pencil system worked out so well that I ended up adding a few more drawers to it.

I added a drawer for mechanical pencils.  I tried giving my first graders mechanical pencils to use and it ended up going really well!  So well that I will probably be adding them to the supply list in the future.  It took my students a little bit of time to learn how to use them, but in the end it was worth it.  It really cut down on having tons of pencils to sharpen at the end of the day.  They also work great if you have a student that chews on their pencil.  Hard plastic isn't near as fun for them to chew on as a wooden pencil.  This drawer stores the lead for the mechanical pencils.  It also is the place where students place the mechanical pencils they find and where they go if they lost theirs.

The next drawer stores some of the big pink erasers.  This drawer is also used as a lost-and-found box.  If a pink eraser is found on the floor it gets placed in this drawer.  If a student can't find their eraser they simply just get one from the drawer.

Finally, the cap eraser drawer holds many new cap erasers.  A student may get one of these if the eraser on their pencil is no longer working well.

These drawers made all the difference in my classroom!  They are super easy to store and take up a small amount of space in your classroom.

I've had a lot of teacher ask for these labels so I've added them to my TpT store!  I've also made them in 2 size options.  You can place them on the medium or small size Sterilite drawers!

Here is a look at the two different size options.

This is the difference between the medium and small size drawers.  Pick the drawer size that fits your classroom needs!

I've also made the labels in two color choices!

Click HERE to download the labels from my TpT store!

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