Math = Love: Made 4 Math: Domino Pencil Holder

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Made 4 Math: Domino Pencil Holder

Here's my latest (early) Made 4 Math Project. :) 

Domino Pencil Holder

I teach in a small, rural school with a very high percentage of low-income students.  The local businesses in town go together to purchase all of the school supplies for the students in elementary school and middle school.  Thus, many of our high school students have never had to buy school supplies before.

Last year, I had a major problem with students not bringing a pencil or pen to class to write with.  So, I had a cup of pencils on my desk that students could borrow a pencil from.  It worked great except for the fact that the pencils never seemed to make it back to the cup.  I was continually having to refill the cup with pencils.  The school did provide these pencils, but it was a huge hassle.

Domino Pencil Holder - With Pencils

This summer, I decided there had to be a better way.  Via pinterest, I saw an idea where you take a block of wood and drill holes in it to hold pencils.  Since each hole should have a pencil in it, you can easily tell if all of your pencils have been returned.

My parents are definitely the do-it-yourself type.  So, they have tons of tools and building supplies.  I told my parents what I wanted to do and asked them if they had a piece of wood that I could have.  Then, I figured I would just borrow the drill, ask my Dad to show me how to drill a hole in the wood, and complete the project in a matter of minutes.

That's not quite how it worked.  First, I was told that I would want to use a drill press to drill the holes instead of a cordless drill because that would ensure that the holes were the same depth.  Then, my Mom decided to take things a step further and make it more creative.  She said I should paint the wooden block to look like something.  Now, I have ZERO artistic talent.  My sister, on the other hand, is studying to be an art teacher  So, she got roped into this project as well.

I can tell that my love and obsession with math is definitely rubbing off on my mom.  Her first idea is: "Wouldn't it be cool if the digits of pi were painted around the edge of the block?"  We agreed that, yes, that would be cool.  But, what color should we paint the block?  The color black was decided upon.  But, soon, we realize that if we paint the block of wood black it will look like a domino!  So, why can't we just make a domino pencil holder instead?  So, the digits of pi were abandoned for a beautiful double-six domino pencil holder.

Actually, I'm not quite sure if I can take any credit whatsoever for this project.  My mom got out the t-square and ruler to square the wood and mark where the holes should go for the pencils.  My dad used the drill press to drill the holes.  And, he also spray painted it black.  I've spray painted one thing in my life, and it was an absolute disaster...  Finally, my sister painted the white dots on the domino.  So, I guess I'm more of an idea person.  And, the rest of my family takes my ideas, makes them better, and actually executes them.

So, this has been setting on my desk all week, and I absolutely love it.  I was originally planning on putting small pieces of duct tape on each pencil to mark that it was my property, but the borrowed pencils have been making their way back to the domino without them.  I think there's just something about the fact that the students know that I know that there are supposed to be twelve pencils in the domino.  So, if they take one out, they return it.  Of course, we are only 7 days into the school year.  This is probably still the honeymoon phase...  But, I'm feeling much better about the pencil situation this year!        

And weirdly, I've been gaining pencils this year.  It seems like everyday, I find at least one pencil that someone has left behind...


  1. What a cute idea! I remember a few simple projects becoming more involved when my parents helped me:).

  2. I love this! Forgotten pencils is a huge headache for me, maybe this will work to get my students to return what they borrow.

    The domino idea is great too - hopefully a dozen pencils will be more fan enough for my five (!) classes of grade 7 and 8 students - luckily I only have to handle 25 at a time.


  3. How has this still been going for you?

    1. Ha ha. Not very well. Next year, I think I'm going to have to make students leave something with me when they get a pencil or something.

  4. I love how you manage to get your whole family involved with your classroom! Haha :)