Wednesday, August 05, 2009

WFMW: Pencils and Squabbles and Duct Tape, oh my!

Go ahead and call me anal. But, within a year of teaching two children, I realized that the Chinese water torture of my day was the ongoing question of 'whose pencil is this???"

For those of you unfamiliar with this problem, let me illustrate. There are three common scenarios. These repeat themselves ad nauseum in several variations throughout the day.

Scenario One:
Mommy: Whose pencil is in the middle of the living room floor waiting to impale the bottom of someone's foot?
Child One: Not mine.
Child Two: Not mine.
Mommy: I'm going to eat a child.

Scenario Two:
Child (speaking to sibling who is writing with a pencil): Hey! Isn't that my pencil?
Sibling: No, it's mine.
Child: No, it's mine because......
Sibling: No, it's mine because....
(etc, etc etc, until....)
Children: Mommy!
Mommy: I'm going to eat a child. Maybe two.

Scenario Three:
Mommy: Ok, get a pencil so we can do [insert school subject here].
(Child goes to pencil cup. Child's pencil cup is empty. Child goes to sibling's pencil cup and obtains pencil.)
Mommy: You can't take a pencil from your sibling's pencil cup.
Child: But Mommy, some of those pencils are mine because....[insert lengthy explanation here].
Mommy: I'm going to eat a child.


Apparently, according to my daughter, cannibalism is illegal. So, cannibalism is not a valid solution to any of the above scenarios.

Instead, I give you three legal options:

Colored duct tape--We love duct tape. We use it to make wallets, DS cases, and to decorate pencil cups, notebooks, and folders. So, we always have several rolls of colored duct tape lying around. One of the "back to school" traditions in our house is that each child picks a roll of colored duct tape, oldest child picks first, and I cut off a narrow strip to wrap around the end of each of their pencils, right near the metal that holds the eraser. All pencils are now quickly identified. End of problem.

Colored foil stars--Since colored duct tape runs four dollars a roll, and I know not every family has this on hand, a pack of 700 colored foil stars costs just $2. I literally have three packs of these in my desk drawer. These have another advantage in that peeling off stars is a lot easier than cutting little strips of duct tape. There are five different colors on each sheet of stars, but its easy to cut each sheet into five strips of one color each. Then children can be handed a strip of stars and decorate their own pencils, rulers, markers, etc. Any school item whose ownership might be called into question....stick a few colored stars on it. Ta da!

Round, "color coding" label dots-- These circular stickers work along the same principle as the foil stars. They are larger than the stars, and therefore easier to spot on an item. A pack of these are generally a bit more expensive than the stars, but I throw them out as an idea.

Have a great school year!!!

For more great back to school ideas, check out We Are THAT Family!


Rona's Home Page said...

Great tip!

Josie said...

My daughter has several rolls of colored duct tape...she loves crafting with it. I'm going to suggest the little colored duct tape band on their pencils to them. I think they'll really like that. Anything to be able to prove to that kid in the next desk that "YES that is my pencil, see?"
Thanks for the tip!

Paula @ Organizing Tips For Moms said...

That is a great idea!! Thanks for stopping by. I'm off to check out your blog.

Mozer said...

That's a great idea. We always have the problem of missing pencils--maybe somehow duct tape could solve that problem? Tape it to their hand? Enjoyed your entry!

Becky said...

This is a wonderful idea! I wish I'd thought of it :)