Elementary Classroom Supplies

Part 2

Managing classroom supplies...continued.

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I allow a minimal amount of elementary school supplies inside student desks. Basically...

  • A ruler
  • Two sharpened pencils
  • A hand-held pencil sharpener (if they brought one)
  • Two folders: "work in progress" and "stuff to go home"
  • A spiral notebook
  • A speller or other much-used resource
  • Up to four books

What goes in a student desk

Of course, other items tend to sneak in over time, often creating a mess for my untidy learners...and I have a problem with messes in my classroom. Messy desks make for inefficient transitions, so a regular clean-out is common in my room.

Take a look at this video as I go through a quick tour of well-organized and a not-so-well organized student desks to see what I mean.

Betsy Weigle Organizing for the Common Core guide

Keeping Track of Pencils

I'm completely fine with small, personal, hand-turned personal pencil sharpeners...the small kind that holds shavings. For many students, however, they are little more than a novelty that doesn't really keep up with the rate at which they make their pencils dull.

Sharp pencils in jar

So how do we keep a constant supply of sharp pencils for are hard-working writers?

I have tried a few different methods and have finally settled on simply sharpening them myself. I keep an electric pencil sharpener in my room and I'm the only person who is allowed to use it.

It is the job of the students, I explain, to make their pencils dull by writing. My job is to make sure they're sharp.

Dull pencils go into one jar and and freshly-sharpened pencils are available in another jar. If their dulling ever gets ahead of my sharpening, all they have to do is ask nicely and I'll sharpen a few.

By the way, I have tried having kids sharpen their own pencils. It may work for some teachers, but it has never worked for me. It only takes about two days before they start to wonder if other things can be sharpened, such as markers. And that is not a productive use of classroom supplies!

Here are a few video thoughts on the "pencil sharpening controversy." Enjoy!

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