The Amazing Pencil: Technology and Tradition

One pencil has the potential to draw a line 35 miles long, write an average of 45,000 words, absorb 17 sharpenings, delete its own errors and beat out an infinite number of drum solos. But let’s get right to the point. Because pencils are so useful and so common in our daily lives, they tend to be taken for granted. And yet, it’s a fact that pencils truly are one of the greatest technological inventions of all-time, the original tech toy, providing the springboard for launching all expressions of art, design and communications.

So, let’s raise our pencils and start appreciating this portable and potent instrument for all that it does and all that it can do to help us achieve our greatest potential. Learn fascinating and fun facts along the way in discovering, exploring and celebrating the story of pencils. Click here to watch ‘Let’s Make a Pencil’ video.


The Amazing Pencil

Teach and Learn About Pencils

Pencils are found everywhere…except a sharpened one when you need it! But where did they come from? Who invented them? How are they made today and how many creative ways can they be used? The Story of Pencils lesson plans address answers to all these questions and more. Originally targeted to students in grades 3 through 6, studying social studies, science and the environment, the subject matter is intriguing enough to engage audiences of all ages. Each plan is supported by a worksheet and links relevant to older age groups as well. Our hope is to make an increasingly valued learning community for teachers, students, parents, artists, writers, collectors and pencil enthusiasts alike. We invite you to join in, share your knowledge, ideas, thoughts and opinions and make the Story of Pencils a never-ending source of fascination and fun. Start here.

Curriculum objectives:

• Find out more about how pencils are used by all kinds of people.

• Gain a richer understanding of the history of the pencil and how they are made today.

• Identify the differences between Renewable Resources and non-renewable resources.

• Learn all about Forestry Management in the United States and around the world.

• Target specific learning skills within each lesson plan.

Background information, presentation suggestions and a summary of specific learning skills being achieved are included with each of the six lesson plans. For more in-depth information and higher-level material, simply click on the supplemental links within each plan.

To watch the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s video based on economist Leonard Read’s I, Pencil essay, click here. 

Links to Lesson Plans:

Activity 1—What are pencils used for?
Activity 2—What is the history of pencils?
Activity 3—How are pencils made today?
Activity 4—What are renewable resources?
Activity 5—What is a sustained-yield forest?
Activity 6—How to create recycled pencil board art