Pencil Strategies

So I just wanted to share something I have used
for a few years now in math.
WELL probably a little more than a few years BUT what evs!!!
I like to call it Pencil Strategies!!!
They are problem solving steps to help the kiddos
maneuver through word problems. 
I always start the year off with a WHOLE
class lesson. I give all the kids the problem and a Pencil Strategy Pencil
(available in my Teachers Notebook Store... super LOW cost too)
We walk through the problem and color code each section based on what the
pencil tells us to do.
For example ~
the 1st section is colored red and it talks about finding and underlining the question....
you can see where they underlined the question in red :)

 They continue through the Pencil Strategy Steps and color code their word problem to help them make it successfully through the problem.
 having their own little Pencil Strategies Pencil really helps make the process go faster and it tells them which color they need to code it.
 I work the problem along with them on the chart paper and color code my work TOO!!!

 They use their SOAR BOARD to organize their mathematical thinking and problem solving knowledge :)
as you can see in the pic below
(sorry they are fuzzy I whipped out my fancy camera only to find the batteries were DOA....aghhhhh
what was a girl to do... I knew and planned this blog with lots and lots of pics so
being the Mc Gyver that I am I popped out my phone and snapped away... hence the fuzzy-ness)
BACK TO you can see in the pic below...
they color code their word problem and also code their SOAR board. 

 I also made a HUGE Pencil Strategies Poster to hang in class.
if you would like a Pencil Strategy Pencil of your VERY OWN... head on over to my Teachers Notebook store.  I promise they are POCKET FRIENDLY!!!
NOTE**** the green and blue parts of the pencil... I train my kiddos to work in pencil here NOT work in green and blue because they might make a mistake and you can't erase marker :)....
NOW if we are PUBLISHING our SOAR boards
THEN they will trace over their work in Green and or BLUE

just a little fyi...
I copy the Pencils on card stock and laminate them in heavy duty laminate!!!
EVERY kiddo has one in their math bag to pull out whenever needed :)
My entire grade level uses it and my admin was impressed with the process of it AND NOW
my entire school uses it as their Math Strategy :)
Well I hope you like this new Math Idea and I hope you can use it in your classroom too!!!

If you would like your own Math Strategy Pencil CLICK HERE to head to my TpT store


CLICK HERE to go right to my TN page :)

and can I just say how frustrated I am with this whole apple rating thing a ma doodle at TN
I have a rating of like 4 and 1/2 apples which does make me cringe...
yes I am a perfectionist and seek high levels of approval at all times *wink*
and might I add that the comments do not reflect WHY I
was given a 4 1/2 rating...
It does bug me
sorry just thought I would get that off my chest!!!
and my chest is rather large
no A here or B for that matter
so I really have a lot more to say BUT I am keeping that under wrap...
 to myself
and my poor hubby who has to listen to my obsessive need to be perfect
and my obsession over these apples
that show everyone and the world that I am only 4 1/2 apples
(insert super duper frowny face here)

OK that is it... hope you head on over and look at a close up of the pencil and PLEASE for the LOVE of FARLEY don't look at my 4 1/2 apples PLEASE!!!

ALSO do not forget to enter my Linky Party for the September Currently :) is just one post below :)

thanks so much for supporting my blog and listening to me rant and rave and joining my parties and entering my give aways... I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!!
but I really have to go now because I have to get ready for some one's
3rd Birthday Party!!!

thanks to our friend nicole for these awesome sneak peek pics
 from his photo shoot Friday...that girl is fast :)

*********update as of July 8, 2012********

I have redone the math pencils.... the content has not changed but the colors have changed a little...just a little lighter for easier reading :)  and
AND AND I made a black line master for your kids to color their own... and I think it is CUTER :)


  1. Oh my goodness!! Number 1, I LOVE the pencil strategy card!!! too cool!!! Number 2, I have a 4 and a 1/2 apple rating too!!! grr!!!! {Because I didn't have a "different cupcake design" for each month on my birthday bulletin board! read the description lady, it says "4 different designs" !} Number 3, your little boy is uh-dorable!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks, as always, for your awesome posts!

    Miss Kindergarten

  2. Your blog is amazing and one of my favorites. I hereby bestow the Top 10 Award upon you and your amazing blog!!!

    Check it out here:
    My Top 10 Awards!

    Click here to grab your Award Button

    BTW, love this idea. Heading over to TN right now!

  3. I just bought the pencil strategies card thanks! Do you have any sample word problems to go with you might share?

  4. I love your blog...Thank You for sharing your passion with us all. Could you expand on what your SOAR Boards are?

  5. I just bought your pencil too. It looks like a great stratgy and I can't wait to start using it!

    I gave you 5 apples! :)

    I also have the same question as the above posts:
    1. What are SOAR boards? I tried googling it but no luck...haha

    2. Do you have some sample math problems you don't mind sharing to use for modeling?


  6. I nominated you are one of My Top Ten blogs. Go to to see my post. Go to to get a button for your site.

    Pitner's Potpourri

  7. the soar boards are also in my TN store...I think under 4 square problem solving (I have to call them SOAR boards because of ditrict required wording **wink*wink**) and I give VERY detailed instructions ... as far as word problems I am in the process of making some... check for them in a few days... I am glad you like the pencil :)

  8. I just listed as one of my favorite blogs.

    Mrs. Ayala’s Kinder FUN

  9. I love your pencil idea for problem solving. My school does exemplars too, but I never received the full training, so I have just been wading through it the best that I can. I know these pencils will help my students stay focused. Thanks for sharing your brilliance! ~ Amanda @ The Teaching Thief

  10. Ok...

    #1 - Your little man is a-dorable.

    #2 - The math strategy pencils are awesome.

    #3 - You made my Top Ten!

    <3 Third Grade Bookworm

  11. The pencils are great! I had a boring (read:ugly) display about what good problem solvers do. I just couldn't find a better alternative, but this is perfect!!!

  12. i (puffy heart) your pencil math strategy. :)

  13. I was so taken with your amazing pencil idea that I have written a post all about you and your amazing pencils. I created my own pencils because I wanted to change some of the language to match what my school already does, but I only included a screen shot of mine and linked directly back to you. I also did a promo for your Teacher's Notebook store. I hope it's okay that I used your idea as a post for my blog. It will post tomorrow. Thanks again!! ~Amanda @ The Teaching Thief

  14. Did you print out the color words? If so, what font did you use? Would really like to have it. Thanks. BTW, love your blog!

  15. Little man is sooooooo ADORABLE!!! I (puffy heart) photography as you would say it lol. It's such a fun hobby. I just wanted to say that these pics are FANTABULOUS!!

  16. I got your pencil strategy! It is AWESOME!! Thank you so much! Would you kindly send me an email with how you incorporate/teach your SOAR boards, sounds like they go hand in hand!

  17. Thank you so much for sharing this great idea! I was looking for a basis to write a rubric for a special education plan goal and the pencil strategy will work great!


~ I {PuFFy} HeArT comments!!!! THANK YOU!!!