Classroom organization is essential for teachers, art teachers and all other specialists teachers. I finally found the right system for my colored pencils (and regular pencils) to cure the craziness pencils caused for me.
If you are anything like I once was you DREAD using colored pencils in your classroom. Mostly because you don’t want to buy a new pencil sharpener all the time! The lead in colored pencils is very soft and students don’t quite know when to stop sharpening. Then the lead breaks, gets stuck in the pencil sharpener and you are forced to bring home yet another pencil sharpener and beg your husband to fix it for you. Sometimes you are lucky and the lead falls right out, but eventually the pencil sharpeners all end up ruined because of these beautiful little colored pencils…and a ildild’s desire to have the perfectly sharp point!
It got so bad, that for a while, I had my colored pencils stored away and didn’t do much with them–and as an art teacher no less! I had tried a pencil sharpener especially designed for colored pencils–but that didn’t work either.
But now, using this classroom organization tip, I have rediscovered my love for colored pencils (it works for regular pencils, too). It’s a life saver.
Step #1: Measure the height of your cans. This will be the width you need to measure on the back of your contact paper (below left). Wrap your contact paper around the can to see how long it needs to be (below right). If your cans are the same size you will need to cut out 4 of these.Step #2: After you have measured your can cut out the contact paper and then peel off the back and wrap it around each can.Step #3: Write or type onto sticky labels what you want your cans to say. You can go as simple as two cans, one saying “dull” and one saying “sharp.”I found a free set of labels on Teachers Pay Teachers if you just want to go with the “Dull” and “Sharp” check them out HERE. Or if you like the way I do it then you will want the following 4 phrases; “Dull,” “Sharp Warm Colors,” “Sharp Cool Colors,” and “Sharp Neutrals.” Step #4: Fill the sharp cans with the correct colored pencils–the students will fill the “dull” can as they use the pencils. As the dull pencils fill up in the can I sharpen them or have another adult volunteer sharpen them and put them back in the sharp cans.How I use this system classroom organization system once it is set up…
This system is very easy. Students simply exchange their “dull” colored pencil for a “sharp” colored pencil, and honestly it can be as easy as that. However, being an art teacher I like to mix it up and have the sharp colored pencils divided by warm, cool and neutral colors. Sometimes I like to do it by primary and secondary colors as well. It’s just a little way to add some simple art concepts into their life in my classroom.
On each group table in my room (I have four large tables) I have a large cup of mixed colored pencils (I use the large yogurt containers pictured below). I do not keep the colored pencils divided by warm, cool and neutral at the tables, only in the “sharp” cans. Of course you could cover these containers with contact paper too if you so wish—in fact I should do that! I emphasize to my student that when pencils are dull they should NOT put them back in the large container at their table. Instead they walk to the back counter of my room and they “exchange” their dull pencil for a sharp one. Kids also like the opportunity to get out of their seats with a destination!
I also use this system with my regular pencils. I do all the sharpening MYSELF (volunteers, and some older students help out sometimes). I’ve been able to keep my pencil sharpeners for many years now and once the kids know the system it works flawlessly.
Here is a look at my pencil station that is important in my classroom organization system. It has my pencil sharpener on top with the regular pencils (non-fancy cans) and then the colored pencils below. I used a copy paper box and cut out the front of it. I had planned to paint the box and make it look pretty but I just never got around to it. So it looks like this: …and I keep the colored pencils below with the yogurt containers full of pencils behind the pretty ones. I particularly like the colored pencils against the black and white contact paper. If you try out this system and make it prettier then mine (not hard to do) shoot me a picture or tag me on social media, I’d love to see! I hope this system helps you bring colored pencils into your room as you organize your classroom …or at the very least give you back some of your sanity with colored pencils and regular pencils.