The Bane of MY Existence, Updates, and a Freebie!

23 March 2014
Ok...I will admit, I am being a bit overdramatic!  Can you blame me?  I seriously wanted to throw the classroom pencils out the window.  I sharpened that pencil down to a nub and still no useable point!  I must have sharpened 10 pencils in a row that ended up like this!   It was so frustrating, no wonder the kids never have pencils!  It held us up from taking a spelling test, the kids started chatting away, and half of them still did not have pencils to write with! 
If there is a pencil company out there, that wants to send me some pencils that sharpen the way they are supposed to, please leave me a comment below.  As of right now, I am very tempted to let first graders write in pen!

I have been so busy working on long vowel phonics packets, that I have not had time to post my visual plans.  I apologize, but these packets take me a long time.  Even with following the same template.  I know have Long a, Long e, and Long o in my store.  Next up is Long i.   Just click on the images to check out the packets on TpT!

Did you all have fun celebrating St. Patrick's Day with your students?  Every year, my Wanted Posters and Leprechaun Fact Family craft are a hit with the kids.  I love turning a Common Core aligned math activity into a fun project and the kids do too!

If you are looking for a similar Easter Math Craft, check out this packet:

 This page of a student's Star of the Week book made me laugh!  I love how you can hear our Long Island accents in the writer's inventive spelling.  And yes, the star student loves to talk.

A few weeks ago we received some "turn-key" training from a staff member on ways to attack word problems.  The goal was for all of the students in the school to utilize the same methods for attacking word problems.   I made this little worksheet to help.   You can click the image to download it for yourself.  I have been doing with my first graders and they are really getting the hang of it!

I am super excited about presenting in Vegas this summer.  I attended last year and had a blast, now this year I am presenting for SDE and TPT!  Click below to sign-up and receive my 10% discount code for SDE. 

To sign up for the TpT conference, click here.

My mother's book is out and she created a FREE Common Core Aligned Close Reading Lesson for it.  My mother is a reading teacher in the same district I teach in.  Click the image below to check it out and pass along the link to your third grade and up friends!

That's all for now! In my next post, I plan to tell you about author Beth Finke's visit.  I always enjoy her visits and of course her dog!


  1. Classroom Friendly Supplies "Quietest Classroom Sharpener" always sharpens pencils perfectly! You should check it out! Here is the site:

    K-3 Connection

  2. Ticonderoga makes the best pencils. We request this brand on our supply list. They are a little more expensive but are MUCH better than any others.

    1. Agreed! We use the fat pencils. The kids have a much harder time breaking them (it is an issue) and they stay sharp enough to write for several days. I'll never go back.

  3. I agree with Ashley C! I LOVE this raggedy edged pencils and it's quiet!

  4. YES ^^^^^ This is the ONLY pencil sharpener any teacher should buy. You will never have issues again! It sharpens the cheapie pencils as well as the good ones

  5. It is the lille things that matter the most. Pencils that just won't sharpen are a teacher's mortal enemy. Personally, I don't think a particular sharpener will make any difference. Office Depot pencils are terrible about not sharpening, Ticonderoga pencils are almost perfect.

  6. Ditto on the Ticonderoga pencils. I requested 24 Ticonderoga pencils per student and haven't even approached 1/2 of my pencil supply this year... for the first time ever! I'm usually out by now. Of course, a few of the other brands come in at the beginning of the year. They tend to be the only pencils I throw away these days.
    I've heard great things about his sharpener... I have yet to invest.

  7. I laughed when I saw your student writing. Some child is going to be writing that about my son next year when he goes to kindergarten. He's a self-proclaimed 'expert in talking.'

    Not very fancy

  8. I agree with the other teachers commenting here! I always put Dixon Ticonderoga pencils on my supply list to start the year. Of course, not every parent listens, but I do get a good number of them, and they are fantastic. After reading a couple of blog posts about the sharpener from classroom friendly supplies I decided to purchase one too. It is a little tricky for my kindergarten students to use, and they need to be taught how to use it, but it is durable, and takes care of the problem you are having! I am on my third year with that sharpener, and it is still going strong! The electronic ones always seem to malfunction 3 or 4 months into me getting a new one!

  9. omg that pencil thing cracked me up..... seriously hate it. lol hope you got some good pencils ;)

  10. I totally shared that pencil picture on Facebook! Pencils like that are awful! Glad to know I'm not the only who goes crazy over bad pencils!
    A Tall Drink of Water

  11. Too funny! A lot of my pencils sharpen like that most especially the ones from Office Depot. I think it's my pencil sharpener too. I bought one from Bostitch that claims to be a top performer and quiet. Yeah, let's just say it didn't live up to either one of those descriptions. Hope you find better pencils!

    Antoinette :)
    Shoelaces and Sugar Cookies

  12. Okay...I am SOOO with you about the pencils! I throw away more of those cheapy pencils than you can shake a stick at! If you get the lowdown on truly sharpenable (yep! made up the word, but poetic license works here, right?!?) pencils, please post! I am Frustrated in Fairfield!!!

  13. You must buy a classroom friendly supplies sharpener. It will literally sharpen the cheapest, most horrible pencils to pure perfection every time. I have one and after using it- at least 8 of my teacher friends bought one for themselves. The quality of the pencil make no difference after buying this thing!!!!!! It's worth every penny.
    Keep Calm and Love First Grade

  14. I have been having issues with my Classroom Friendly Supplies sharpener. Does anyone know what a good indication would be to change the parts? If so, please feel free to email me ( because its been driving me crazy!! And, Erica if you do find a pencil company that's amazing I will be on the look out because your Nassau County first grade friends are going to have one crazy teacher soon!! :)

  15. I agree, those pencils and sharpener are AMAZING, work so well and you don't need those pesky pencil grips either. Another 'bane of my existence' type of pencil is those pencils that are themed and they have the paper around them and when you try to sharpen them the paper wrecks the sharpener and goes all over the place. Yup those are fun too!

  16. Like others have said go straight to Classroom Friendly Supplies and get the pencil sharpener. It is the best sharpener! Your troubles will be over. We also request Ticonderoga pencils. But all the cheap, terrible pencils that are sent in will come out perfect every time too. I have 3 of the sharpeners and love them.

  17. Several teachers at my school use #4 pencils. They order them from School Store of Carolina. They don't have to be sharpened often and don't break easily. I thought they would smear but they don't seem to. I think it might be worth a try next year.

  18. I am so with you on the pencils! I even joke with the kids saying we need to write a complaint letter to the irritating pencil companies!!

  19. Go to and buy their pencil sharpener. You will love it! It sharpens all pencils no matter how expensive or cheapy! I can buy the $1 bin ones from Target now and they sharpen like a charm This is one expense you will be bragging about spending!

  20. Those type of pencils and the ones where the eraser "pops" off on the first time of use are the bane of my existence too. The best pencils that I have found by far are the Ticonderoga; I buy the black ones for test taking day. The triangular pencils are great for those kiddos that have difficulties with fine motor skill. And of course...the pencil sharpener from Friendly Classroom Supplies is the bomb!

  21. I agree with all of you, buy the fatter pencils, Ticonderoga, and none with erasers as the kids usually find a way to mutilate them or cut them or who knows what. The pencils that are paper wrapped and color pencils (oil based that gum up the sharpeners) do not work well in regular electric sharpeners. I haven't tried the recommendation of the above sharpener, but will certainly look at it. Good luck. Pencils being made outside USA have been my bane as well.


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