Classroom Management

5 Ways to Save Your Sharpies

Middle school students LOVE Sharpie markers. They use them on their art projects, on their binders, on their clothes, and even on their bodies. The brighter the Sharpie, the better. Last week, I looked down the hall and saw a girl writing on the back of another girl’s t-shirt with one. On a recent Monday, another student walked by my classroom with her arm covered in Sharpie. (Apparently, she fell asleep at a slumber party.)

Almost every day, I witness by students getting creative with Sharpies. But, unfortunately, Sharpie markers seem to disappear, walk away, or get kidnapped from the art studio. We hope that our students aren’t stealing or unintentionally taking art supplies from our classrooms, but, in reality, it does happen. I found myself asking my students, “Is that my Sharpie marker?” I had no way to tell if it was my marker or not. Until now!

Here are some strategies to use to keep your Sharpies in your room.

1. Keep your Sharpies in a container on your desk or another location that’s close to you.

I keep mine on my desk because I go to it at the beginning and end of each class to take attendance and get my whiteboard ready for the next class. I use an empty frosting container to hold my Sharpies. If you aren’t a frosting eater, ask your coworkers for donations.

2. Label the ends of the Sharpies with duct tape.

Yes, duct tape. It’s one of the stickiest tapes available. Also, when you pull it off, it leaves a residue. Therefore, if my students ever try to pull off the duct tape, the marker will be sticky, and I will know it WAS my marker! One negative part of putting the tape on the bottom of the Sharpie is that the cap won’t fit on the marker anymore, but it’s a small price to pay for keeping track of your Sharpies. I put all Sharpies cap down in the container, so the tape shows. This allows me to identify the color of markers. Also, the ink stays at the tip of the marker so they last longer.

3. Label the container with the kind of marker it holds and color code them.

I have multiple containers of sharpies. I keep them straight with the color of duct tape at the end and also with the label on the container.

4. Write the total number of markers on the container, so you know how many you need back at the end of class

In my room, I know that there should be 16 fine-point Sharpies in my container at the end of each class. If a marker dries up when a student is using it, then they bring to me, and I will give them a fresh marker and throw away the old one. Before you throw away the marker, take the caps off and save them incase students lose the caps to other markers.

5. Let students know how important the art materials are to art projects.

It’s important for students to realize why the supplies need to stay in the art studio. I tell my students what my budget is and how much supplies cost. They appreciate the supplies more if they know that they’re a necessity and limited in quantity.

Do you use Sharpies in your classroom?  Do you have a problem with Sharpies disappearing?

How do you keep track of your Sharpie markers? 

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Cassidy Reinken

Cassidy Reinken, an art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She enjoys helping students solve problems and reach their potential.

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