Introduction: The Epic Pencil Battle Has Been Won!

It doesn’t matter what grade you teach, the epic pencil battle happens every year and lasts all year long! I have tried many things in the past to manage that at least 2 students every period don’t have a pencil, but none of them have worked for me. A very organized colleague of mine (of course a math teacher) has this amazing system for keeping track of pencils. She flags and numbers 10 pencils and makes sure to get them back at the end of each period. Sounds simple, right? Well, for the social studies teacher (me) it is not. I tried and failed. It was just not something I could keep track of for very long because I’m always so frantic and teaching bell-to-bell that I forget to check that I have all of the pencils! Then I tried just having a box of golf pencils. I picked them up at Staples for around $8 and I thought they’d last me all year. Who wants to keep a small pencil with no eraser? Apparently ALL MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS! So that didn’t work either.

This year, I went big. I have big expectations for students to take some ownership of the pencil battle we face everyday. I created the pencil board/parking lot and students manage this themselves by taking a pencil when they need one, write their name on the dry erase tape, and returning it when they’re done. I added flowers to the top so students realize they are using my pencils and more easily remember to put them back. It is also easier for me to see that they are all returned amidst the organized chaos in my room. It has been such a success! No one even asks me for a pencil anymore because they just help themselves. It has been a total game changer! Students appreciate it and we haven't lost one yet - the epic pencil battle has been won!


1 Galvanized Board Frame (27.76" x 0.79" x 18.11")

1 Can of Spray Paint

Painter's Tape

Clear Shower Liner

Letter and Number Stickers (I actually used vinyl and a Cricut machine for my lettering, but if you don't have a Cricut, stickers will work great!)

Dry Erase Tape (optional because students can use dry erase markers directly on the board)

Dry Erase Marker (I opted for a magnetic marker so it sticks to the galvanized board)

11 Pen Pal holders (from Amazon)

11 Pencils

11 Fake Flowers

Floral Craft Tape

Wire Cutters

2 Velcro Command Strips (16lbs)

1 Picture Hanger


If you want to add a "Parking Lot" to your board:

Business Card Holder


Hot Glue Gun

Hot Glue

Step 1: Spray Paint Your Board

Start by laying the clear shower curtain on the ground and then placing your board on top of it. Next, cover the inside of the board with painter's tape so you do not paint the metal part of the board. Using your color of choice, spray paint the wood framing of the board. I only did one coat, but depending on the color you choose, you may need to do more.

Step 2: Add Your Letters, Numbers, Pen Pal Holders, and Tape to the Board

Once the paint dries (which should only take 10 minutes or so), add the lettering, numbers, pen pal holders, and dry erase tape to your board. I would recommend laying things out on the board before you stick everything on so you can make sure you have the spacing how you'd like it.

Follow the same steps if you are using a Cricut machine and vinyl in place of stickers.

Step 3: Hot Glue the Business Card Holder for the Parking Lot

Hot glue the business card holder to the bottom corner of the board frame. This is meant to hold the post-its for the "Parking Lot" side of the board. Once the glue dries, place the post-it notes in the business card holder.

Step 4: Wrap the Flower Toppers to Each Pencil

Using the floral tape to tape a fake flower to each pencil. Trim each flower using wire cutters so the stem is only 2 inches or so (depending on the pencil). You want to have enough to tape so the flower will not fall off. I chose to use mechanical pencils so I would not have to keep replacing the flower topper, I will just be replacing the lead.

I would highly recommend this step. The flower toppers are the reason why my pencils do not walk away each day, so don't skip it!

Step 5: Hang Your Pencil Board!

I'm a big fan of asking for forgiveness rather than permission, so I just went ahead and used the picture hanger to hang my pencil board...which means, yes, I hammered into the wall! To further secure it from wobbling, I put one command velcro strip on each side of the board. With the set-up, the board is not going anywhere.

Depending on the rules at your school, you might not be able to hammer something into the wall. Using some of the 16lb command velcro strips should hold the board up on their own.

Step 6: Add Your Pencils!

Now that the hard work is done, it's time to add your pencils! Enjoy this moment because this pencil board is going to be a game changer in your classroom! Enjoy!

Classroom Organization Challenge

Participated in the
Classroom Organization Challenge