The Ultimate Eraser Management Plan

Erasers can be the source of both serious debate and intense frustration among art teachers. They are so tricky to manage and use that some teachers elect to eliminate them from their classrooms completely! Erasers get destroyed and lost quicker than you can say, “That was a mistake!” So what is an eraser-loving teacher to do?
 

Follow these simple suggestions to let go of the eraser-based stress!

 
eraser managment

 

1. Don’t provide erasers!

I know this seems like a counter-management method, but if you really hate the hassle of erasers, don’t give them out. Ask students to provide their own. Sell pencil-top erasers for 10 cents and pink erasers for a quarter each. This works best for upper elementary and secondary students.

2. Cut them up.

Bigger erasers are much easier to draw on or stab mercilessly.  I cut my erasers up into quarters so that each kid gets a little chunk. If they get lost it’s less of an issue. They aren’t easily mutilated when they are this small, yet they retain the qualities needed in an eraser. You can even keep a tray for each class so that a conscientious class isn’t punished by another’s misdeeds. A super bonus: this is a budget-stretching plan!

3. Put them on ice. 

Well, at least put them in ice cube trays. Store numbered erasers in numbered ice cube trays. Use the alphabetical class list to assign each student a number (help them remember by putting that number on all their artwork, or even on the back of their chairs). This helps with accountability. You’ll know who the eraser abuser is and can limit his or her access to the tool. See a visual here!

4. Communicate your expectations.

Use a memorable and funny video or strategy to teach good materials management. Don’t just expect them to take care of your stuff. Teach them to take care of your stuff. Best of all you don’t have to make them yourself! The brilliant Tricia Fuglestad made this hilarious gem, and Eddie Eraser can take your through the consequences of eraser abuse here.
 
 

What are your secrets to managing erasers in your classroom? 

What other tricky materials have you found solutions for?

 
 
 

Sarah Dougherty

Contributor

My name is Sarah Dougherty, and I teach elementary art in a large urban district in central Iowa. I love working with our diverse population of K-5 students to bring art to their homes, communities, and everyday lives.

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  • Megan Darling

    Thank you for this… I was just thinking about this problem last week.

  • Claire S.

    I pass one out per table. It’s kept in the middle for sharing. If anyone starts to mutilate it, the others usually object.

    • Laura

      I do the same thing. At the beginning of the year, I probably purchase three or four boxes of white erasers, 24 each, and I never run out.

  • Leah

    LOVE eddie eraser video! I’ve shown it to all my classes this week- big hit with all grades! I shared it my HS Art Teacher friend and she said even her AP class loved it!

  • Su Rogers

    Okay– I have an awesome way to manage this with elementary ed kids! At the beginning of the year I tell them we finally have pets in the art room! I build it up and then I introduce my “pet erasers.” I explain how you can hear them purr– and then demonstrate it by rubbing one quietly on a piece of paper (the lovely quiet sound of erasing). I invite one to sit on my shoulder. I act as if they are living breathing creatures that we need to take care of. No kidding. As crazy as it sounds, we went for about 7 months with ONE eraser at each of the 8 tables. Kids brought in eraser food (pickle shaped erasers), eraser habitats (out of shoe boxes), and eraser friends (other erasers). It is the first thing they check as they come in the room and the last thing they check as they leave! NO ONE DARES TO HURT AN ERASER. No poking, cutting, stabbing, or breaking! When one finally accidentally broke and was presented to me by a tearful 3rd grader, we talked about the life cycle of an eraser and found a new one to take its place as a pet, while the old broken one went to the shared supplies bin to peacefully live out teh rest of it’s days.

  • tnoell

    Eraser destruction has been a problem for years…we’ve had every problem you have listed…I found 2 things that took care of this problem for me:
    1. I picked up an inexpensive plastic gum ball machine at a yard sale…I filled it with many colored eraser caps….Any students may buy 1 or more erasers any time they have art….I always supervise the exchange of money for erasers….
    2. I decided last year to select a rainbow pattern as the one for my pencil/eraser project. I got all my pencils together (new/or used) and put a new eraser cap on each…then I cut a approx. 1 1/2″ square of duct tape and taped over the smaller part of the eraser cap and the top of the pencil at the same time…To my amazement , my students actually wear the erasers down all the way to the pencil erasers…then we put those in a special container and I or a helper, open up the tape & reinsert a new eraser & tape it back up with the same tape that I used the 1st time…let me know if you need pictures & I’ll take them tomorrow at school …this has been wonderful!! Once in a while we’ll get a “peeler”, everyone lets me know and we remind them not to hurt the pencil,,

  • anna nichols

    I recently did some research online and wrote an article about this very subject! I linked this wonderful article to my website: http://artteachershelpal.blogspot.com/p/erasers.html

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