It’s funny the things you don’t consider B.H. (Before Homeschooling). For us, one of the bigger revelations this past fall was the difference a lousy pencil sharpener could make to our school day. I never really thoughts about it before! Honestly, I sent in my kids’ 12 pencils and whatever colorful sharpener they happened to select on the back-2-school sales and never gave it another thought. Sure, we kept a few on-hand for homework and other projects, but I never bothered much if it wasn’t the world’s greatest pencil sharpening specimen or if we had to hunt down 3 different ones to find *the one* that would fit the new transformers pencil or latest Vera Bradley addition to the pencil fleet.
Ahh, but that was before.
BEFORE sharpening seemed to take up half our day. BEFORE hunting down the sharpener to fit each pencil meant derailing a math lesson or a group science reading. BEFORE I was suddenly noticing that there was no way our 12 x 3 packs of pencils were going to make it to Thanksgiving, let alone the end of the school year! In fact, just think of them in the context of a reverse ‘loaves and fishes’ scenario and you’ll have some understanding as to what happens to good quality pencils in a homeschool classroom. I’ll give you a hint, it doesn’t matter how many you think you have to begin with.
Somewhere before the holidays we reached our breaking point with this issue – literally! I remember thinking about the “bouquet of newly sharpened pencils” that one of my seasoned homeschooling friends giggled about and reminded me not to get to attached to – yep, it was looking pretty neglected. Not because we didn’t want sharpened pencils or because we didn’t try – it was quite honestly because out of the half dozen sharpeners we had on hand, only ONE of them was actually any good at sharpening! Unfortunately, this little ‘$2.99 world-globe-shaped-sharpener-that-could’ had so many other issues, including a propensity for over-sharpening (which = snapping the lead off inside the blade area), as well as being impossible to empty without dousing yourself and the kitchen floor in lead-pencil shavings. *UGH* After snapping off approximately 8 red and lead pencils in quick succession I reached the conclusion that the days of this little sharpener were numbered.
So I did what I normally do in unfamiliarly frustrating situations – I threw my hands up in despair – and then I researched my way out of distress. I don’t always Google. Sometimes I do, but lately I’ve had success casting my net in more targeted areas of information and expanding outward until I find the information I need. I hit the jackpot very quickly when I stumbled upon a website touting THIS little gadget as the answer to all our pencil-sharpening woes. I hemmed and I hawed and I consulted the principal – who laughed and said we should buy several. I debated some more – really, could one sharpener really fix all the issues we had with pencil-sharpening in our classroom? Finally, I contacted the company who graciously agreed to share their sharpener with us in exchange for my honest feedback and blog opinions. For anyone who knows me, the thought of being ASKED to give ‘honest feedback’ typically elicits a neurological response equivalent to consuming an entire bar of chocolate. I jumped at the chance!
And here it is – this pencil sharpener has changed our lives. OK, maybe not in the same sense as the more meaningful decisions we’ve made, you know, like choosing salvation, getting married, or deciding to have children . . . but definitely a major change for the better in our homeschooling endeavors. In fact, if I have to site a downside to this sharpener, it would be that I occasionally need to confiscate it from my 2nd grader who seems to invent reasons to sharpen his pencil every 3 seconds now for the sheer fun of it (because it’s certainly sharp enough that it doesn’t REQUIRE additional sharpening)!
As to durability, we have put our sharpener through it’s paces thus far. For 3 weeks, since starting our second semester, we have sharpened a wide variety of pencils ranging from the fancy “embellished” kind, to the higher-quality Ticonderogas we typically reach for, to Crayola erasable colored pencils and my basic grading pencils too. At no point have we had it jam, lock up, not sharpen, break apart, spill shavings or eat our pencils. Oh, and bonus – it’s quiet! This wasn’t a big issue for us, as it’s been a few years since our multiple attempts at using electric sharpeners (both epic failures within a few months – at varying price points much higher than this mechanical one), so we’d forgotten how loud a sharpener *could* be. But for anyone using an electric one now, you’ll definitely appreciate the change of decibel.
Quite simply, this is the most amazing pencil sharpener I’ve ever used. I wish I’d had this on hand for the days B.H. I can only assume it would have made those long homework sessions and weekend assignments somewhat less irritating. Indeed, this discovery is one of the many ‘blessings in disguise’ we’ve experienced along our journey. I know that whether or not we homeschool far into the future, we certainly won’t be giving up our Quietest Pencil Sharpener.
If you find yourself curious about our new sharpener, feel free to ask away. I’ll answer whatever questions are out there (you all know where to find me) – although the website also has a video that I found very useful when getting set up with it out of the box. The steps to sharpening may seem cumbersome (I admit to being intimidated initially – yes, I know it’s just a sharpener), but I promise it takes about 2 seconds per pencil now that we’re all pros. 😉 Click on the button on my sidebar to check it out – and be sure to tell them you read about it here. We’re definite fans!