A great idea for keeping kids from walking out of your classroom with your pencils! Photo Credit: The Ardent Teacher

Stop Taking my Pencils!

I don’t know about you, but no matter what I have tried in the past, my pencils always seem to disappear! I have a special holder on my desk for ‘student pencils.’ I have previously asked them to leave a shoe in exchange for a pencil. I thought that if my students would hobble around my classroom with only one shoe, they would surely remember to give me my pencil back. But, sure enough, my pencils would slowly disappear! So, I recently came up with a new idea for keeping my pencils from getting “kidnapped” (napped by kids) and thought I would share it with you!

I didn’t make these terribly fancy since I was just testing it out (plus, I wasn’t sure how successful it would be), but it’s been over a week and I still have all four pencils! Normally, by Tuesday or Wednesday, I have only one pencil left, in which case I spend the rest of the week searching for broken and abandoned pencils around the school campus to bring back to my room for my students to borrow. No more of that, my pencil hunting days are over!

I put my new pencils together on Monday of last week and they were still intact today and ALL were accounted for (Score! Teacher: one, Students: zero!).

This is what I did for my trail run:

1. I took 3×5 inch index cards to use as the “signs” that would be attached to each pencil.On one side of the index card I wrote: “This does NOT belong to me” and on the other I wrote “Please remind me to give this back” (and I made sure to highlight the words – extra visibility is a good thing).

A great idea for keeping kids from walking out of your classroom with your pencils! Photo Credit: The Ardent Teacher

Close up picture of each side of the sign. Photo credit: The Ardent Teacher

2. Once I wrote on the cards, I taped them to popsicle sticks using painters tape (since it was all I had on hand). I thought the popsicle sticks would be better than just taping the sign to the pencil itself because the sign is higher up and more visible. (Again, extra visibility is key!)

A great idea for keeping kids from walking out of your classroom with your pencils! Photo Credit: The Ardent Teacher

The not-so-attractive tape attachment for the sign. Photo credit: The Ardent Teacher

3. Once the cards were taped to the popsicle sticks, I attached them to the pencil (also with the painters tape). Again, they are not the prettiest things to look at, but I did not want to invest too much time in making them look nice if they were going to disappear the next day.

A great idea for keeping kids from walking out of your classroom with your pencils! Photo Credit: The Ardent Teacher

One of the pencils in use! Photo Credit: The Ardent Teacher

As a side note: since the erasers are not accessible, I have some large erasers for them to borrow as well. I told them if the erasers disappear, I will attach them to the pencils with string (like a leash).

When my classes came in, I told my students that the pencils were sick and tired of being kidnapped, and that they were living in fear! The pencils had come together and were now protesting their treatment! It took about a day before the usual pencil “borrowers” came up to test out the new ones; but, low and behold – they actually returned the pencils! I will continue to test this out for the rest of the year. If it works, I will make them look nicer for next group of students (laminated etc).

So, if you are also sick and tired of having your pencils ‘mysteriously’ leave your classroom, give this a try and see if it works!

-The Ardent Teacher



6 thoughts on “Stop Taking my Pencils!

    • I’m not sure how others would feel, but my students actually like using them. They also like the use the huge sign to fan themselves! One students particular uses it everyday and always laughs about it– it seems they find it fun and silly (which was my intention). They laughed when I showed them my “invention” and gave me kudos for the idea (I had been asking about my my missing pencils for a while)!
      Good luck!!


  1. Patricia Dorsey says:

    Reblogged this on How can I control my class? and commented:
    Are your school pencils disappearing? Try this idea to get your pencils returned. I bet it would work and doesn’t cost too much money. Of course, the borrower’s penmanship might suffer a little.


  2. Wahoo! I just found your blog and I cannot stop laughing. I am about to start my second year of teaching middle school science. Thanks for all of your ideas! This makes me super excited for the Fall!!


    • Awesome!! I am so happy to hear that you are enjoying it! : ) middle school science is the best– and extremely entertaining if done right!
      I’m excited for the fall as well and should be (finally) posting something soon!! Good luck in the new year!


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