Friday, January 6, 2012

Here Come the Catalogs!

For the past few weeks I have already accumulated 6 Art Supply Catalogs!  I'm not sure about you, but my supply order is due in March.  I feel like it takes me a month to do my supply order!  I am getting better each year, but it is one thing I take my time on!  I do actually enjoy it! I love going through each catalog comparing prices and supply details.  I started creating a list on a magnetic notepad that stays on my metal filing cabinet, of materials I use up through the year.  If I come across a cool lesson and see a certain material I want to try I also add it to the list.
For the past two years I had to constantly fight with pencils! Kids losing sharpening pencils...uuugh it drove me bonkers!  Last year I came up with a system where I had a cup filled with sharpened pencils and an empty cup for broken ''need to sharpen'' pencils.  Students could turn in their broken one and grab a sharpened one.  Well this worked for a little bit. I would forget to sharpen pencils..or students would turn in perfectly good pencils for pin point perfect pencils and that drove me nuts!  I then purchased hand held sharpeners that I left on the tables in their buckets.  The sharpeners worked perfectly (Faber-Castell Silver sharpener that held the shavings) but then students would be sharpening their pencils every two minutes to have that pin point perfect pencil! AGAIN drove me nuts! PLUS my pencils were gone before the end of the year!  So I needed a new plan! The plan I found I LOVE!

I came across these Faber-Castell Jumbo Grip pencils!
Here is why I love them:
1.  They are triangular and they do not roll off the tables!
2. They have grips!
3. They are jumbo! They fit well in my little artists hands! :)
4. They sharpen well!

The tricks to my pencil fetish...

At the very beginning of the school year I took about 5 minutes the first day of art to explain the pencils to my students.  I S T R E T C H E D the truth a little by telling them that these were VERY expensive ARTIST pencils!  I told them that THEY were NOT allowed to sharpen them.  It was not needed with these "SPECIAL'' pencils for a sharp point.  If they are sharpened too much they will break easily.  I said the only reason they will need to be sharpened is if they were BROKEN or if the wood was to close to the point.  I have yet to have one break or the lead to come out after it was sharpened.  I told them I have a SPECIAL sharpener that I can only use to sharpen them.  THEY BOUGHT IT!  I have not had a problem with these pencils all year.  They have slowly gotten use to the fact they do not need super sharp points, and they do sometimes ask for it to be sharpened.

Here is how I manage the pencils...

The bad part about them is that I actually sharpen all of them with a hand held sharpener (the Faber Castell one I mentioned earlier).  I do however only sharpen them once maybe twice a week if I know we have a detailed project coming up.  I have a cup filled with pre-sharpened pencils so I can easily switch out all the dull pencils in their buckets.  This process is working well, now that the students know I will not give them super sharp pencils or sharpen it for them all the time!  I also have gotten into habit of making sure they count their pencils and erasers in their buckets at the end of clean-up.  They have gotten use to this and do it automatically.
If you have the same pencil fetish as I do I hope you have found this post helpful! Now if I could figure out the glue bottle fetish I have....hmmmm??? Any Ideas blogger Art Creators ;)


  1. Hmmm I've never solved the pencil thing and I've been teaching FOREVER and it is always a problem. I refuse to spend my prep time sharpening, but sometimes I have a kid who volunteers to sharpen them all. But these pencils sound nice. Are they expensive?

    Meanwhile, in the past our requisitions have been due BEFORE February vacation. WHAT?!! I don't even know what I'll use up this spring? I have for years secretly bargained with my principal to hand my orders in the day AFTER vacation and then I spend 1/2 the vacation working on the orders. And I still make mistakes. I'm about to run out of staples and masking tape and I'm still going to need them a LOT. But this year... I'm retiring and I'm not going to spend one minute working on a supply order!!!

  2. I forgot to say this: Chuck Close?!! WOW.........

  3. Phyl- Before February!?!? Wow! Yes last year I turned my supply order in like a week late! I talked to my principal and told him I found products cheaper in another catalog, and could save the district like $700 dollars! He said TURN IT IN LATE! But then I did not get my supplies until the following year at the beginning of the year...I definitely have screwed up my order almost every time! My markers are shot! No Red or black LOVE markers! We also have a ''Petty Cash'' system, where we can, with permission purchase things we need and will get paid back. The pencils are a little more expensive than others. I do not remember off hand...I will have to look back at school. BUT for next year I may only have to order one other box because these pencils are still large enough to use! I still have two other boxes I have not opened yet. It does suck to sharpen them myself...but I do not want kids to know I use the same sharpener as they do for their colored pencils!! I'm such a sneak!!

  4. I use Ticonderoga Tri-Writes for all my students (k-6). They are triangular, don't roll off the table, and are fatter than regular sized pencils. I sharpen them in my electric pencil sharpener - I have several sized openings and have to use the largest one.
    Great news - they dull, but never break. 'Tri' them if you can. I don't think they are too expensive...

  5. Thanks Rina! I will have to check them out.

  6. I saw the pencils you mentioned at a conference and loved them. It took some looking to find them and THEY ARE EXPENSIVE. I inherited my room with a ton of the Laddie/Tri-Writes and have been using them. The thicker version just doesn't break as much or roll around. Like Rina above, I sharpen and it all works out pretty good. This is in comparison to the regular pencils in the building I share with 2 other teachers. The cheap, SchoolSmart regular pencils are terrible. They are in constant need of sharpening and I've gone to the trouble of dragging my electric sharpener to that school, one day a week. I'll sharpen them so we are ready for the next art day.

    On glue:
    A couple years ago I read on a blog about putting the glue in baby food jars and using a brush. So I tried it. I still like it! Jars get a light coating of vaseline on the inside lid and in and outside of the jar lip. A piece of sponge about 1.5 X 1.5" inside then add the glue. The sponge is to take up space and to dab the brushes before they make it to the project. They do get poked and I do have to remind the kinders to keep their fingers out of the jars, but the kids like it. I use the plastic-junk watercolor brushes the previous teacher saved for these. 2 to a jar when in use. The lids just get popped on, never screwed back on. Used brushes get a soak-bath in a cup of hot soapy water, rinse in the morning and they are ready to go. (I only soak them at night no matter how often they get used in the day.) If they are not getting used for a while, I pour a little water on top and close up. The glue gets a little thick sometimes (this is often good) and depending on how much water, is sometimes a little runny but overall this works better than the dang orange top and puddles. They sit on a special tray and all the kids know how to use them and they LOVE them. It is way more fun to brush glue on than make a puddle. (I no longer have other teachers ask me to borrow glue bottles- I don't have any.)

  7. Kellie,
    Thanks for your post! I will look into the Laddie/Tri-Writes you mentioned. The Faber Castell pencils are expensive...I think I was so frustrated with the TERRIBLE pencils I had the previous year I was looking at investing in a long term fix! I am so happy with the pencil situation this year, but of course I am willing to try another similar brand if it will save money.
    About your glue comment: I have never heard of the jar/sponge glue technique...very interesting! I might have to experiment with that as well! Do the sponges just sit in the jars then? When you add the water to the glue you do not mix it? Or you add the water knowing you will not be using the glue for a few days and the water will settle on its own?
    Thank ''hue''!