A How-To Manual for Pencil Use

The reason why our writing center at The English Schoolhouse is one of my favorites is because I think it's a really warm and inviting spot in the room that encourages the kids to write. I even decoupaged a teacup on the writing center table for good measure.

The drawback to the writing center is that I wonder if, especially at the beginning, it could be a bit overwhelming. There are so many utensils and tools and materials to choose from and use...and until they get used to it, sometimes the kids can just tinker around with this or that without really, well, writing.

The only way to avoid wasting time and good space is to show them the purpose of all the materials in the center, and to give them the opportunity to use them proficiently.  Setting guidelines and expectations are also extremely important.

The ages at the schoolhouse this week range from 3 to 5. Some kids have been to school before, others haven't.

All were amazed when I whipped this out:
a fistful of unsharpened pencils
and a Handy Manny pencil sharpener.
(fyi...in case you're ever on Jeopardy or something, Handy Manny's name in Italian is Manny Tuttofare).
I asked them if they knew what the little circle device's purpose was.

I inserted the pencil and twisted and turned until a sharp point emerged.
We discussed the parts of the pencil, holding it, how to use each part and when, & more.
Then we did the same for the sharpener, and emphasized that only PENCILS go inside...I mean, who needs a sharpened pen? Or finger? Or noodle? No one.

And that's not all...we had the ever-important discussion of pencils not being used as weapons. Or lasers. Or pointers. Or antennas.

Up until today, the kids had used only crayons or markers in their journals.

We sharpened eight pencils, grabbed the journals, and...

We'll go over it again tomorrow...and introduce pens...and their caps.  I'm brave...and tough. Plus it'll be Friday.

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