Student Basic Supplies Area

Find a corner of a countertop that has basic supplies for students, maybe including:

  • Paper, lined and unlined, scrap and project-worthy
  • Pencilssharp pencils (See *Pencil System below. Seriously, it took years to develop.)
  • Electric Pencil Sharpener (*See Below “Pencil System” for Recommended Sharpener- seriously lasts years in the classroom.)
  • Tissues
  • Stapler
  • Paper Clips
  • Band-Aids (somewhere, just a little baggie)
  • A space that’s nice to sit by themselves for the moment or for the day- not as a punishment, but as a break from… whatever. (Yes, sometimes they’ll ask to go to the bathroom just to have a break from the classroom. Isn’t that okay- to need a break for a minute or two?)


  • *If Appropriate- Accessible Spot for Plastic Cups to set on their desks when they head to the restroom. (Easy way to insure only 1 or 2 students to restroom at a time- and reminder of where the student is!)
  • A few hand pencil sharpeners just in case
  • Big erasers to stand in when the pencil’s eraser is not worthy. (Take a minute to write the teacher name in permanent marker on the erasers.)
  • Post-it Notes

*If this organization overwhelms you, put a student in charge of setting it up, and keeping it up. You will have students who will revel in the responsibility.

*Pencil System

Oh my. It took me more than ten years of teaching to come up with a pencil policy that worked. Here are the details:

Let’s start with three assumptions:

  • We all love to write with a sharp pencil.
  • We all love an eraser that doesn’t tear up the paper or make the paper grey.
  • No one wants to arrive without a pencil- really. They might have 25 things higher than pencils on their list of worries. It’s not about annoying the teacher or being irresponsible.

The Physical Set-Up of the Pencil Station:

  • 3 Tubs: Sharp Pencils, NOT Sharp Pencils, Hand Sharpeners and Erasers
  • 1 Good Sharpener. Here is a good one.
  • One tub of “Sharp Pencils”- Yes Ticonderoga are worth it. They sharpen better and last longer.
  • One tub of “NOT Sharp Pencils”
  • Pencil Rule: You may take, or ideally exchange, a pencil at any time.
  • NO sharpening during class.
  • If sharpening REALLY does need to happen, use the small (and annoying) hand sharpeners. Here is a good one.
  • One tub of big erasers- add them to the sharpener tub.
  • At the beginning and end of the days, there is a pencil captain who sharpens pencils and knows where to get more pencils when they deem it necessary.

*Problems: Where do we get all the pencils?

  • Yes, it’s an issue.
  • Ask the school front office to help you stay stocked.
  • Ask parents to send in pencils when they ask what they can contribute. (Ideally Ticonderoga Pencils and good, soft tissues)
  • Get a good sharpener. My favorite: Teacher Pro X-Acto School Pro X-Acto
  • Ideally, get good pencils. Ticonderoga Pre-Sharpened
  • Yes, sometimes my own money goes to buying pencils. It is a serious point of sanity for me. An investment I consider well worth it.

At first, the students are SO excited, they exchange pencils like crazy. Eventually, the students become accustomed to having their needs met, and they are less desperate to hoard. (A good desk cleaning out is a great break activity that will uncover many missing pencils.)

If You’re Ready for More

Student supplies

MAYBE- Create a Student EXTRA Supplies Area

If students get to go in a “Teacher Cupboard”, it’s just so exciting. Try to designate a cupboard that IS available to students for special supplies they might need. Things like:

  • Dice
  • Rulers
  • Dictionaries
  • Thesauruses
  • Calculators
  • Colored Pencils
  • Colored Pens and/or Markers
  • Atlases
  • Small Notepads
  • Notecards
  • Clipboards
  • Dry Erase Boards, Dry Erase Markers, and Used Dryer Sheets (BEST erasers for dry erase boards)