The Crayon Bucket

In my classroom, we have this bucket. We call it the crayon bucket. Its job is to hold two kinds of crayons: the broken ones and the forgotten ones.

When I started teaching it didn’t take me long to figure out that crayons are hard for five-year-olds to keep up with. Like… I found it out within thirty minutes!!! 🙂

We started out that first day and everyone had a brand new pack of shiny, beautiful, pointy crayons (by the way, I quickly learned that you don’t give a class full of kindergarteners an entire pack of crayons on day one…teaching 101). Now I do a crayon a day.  As we learn each color, if we treat our first crayon nicely, we get to keep it and eventually get more, but anyway, that’s another story!

So, after thirty minutes on that first day of school, I had a floor full of random crayons. And that bothered me! All during the school year, I would find crayons in the floor and I would hold them up and no one would claim them, even when they looked through their pouches. Even the kid with only two crayons in his pouch would be like, “No man, that’s not mine…” Hence, he always only had two crayons in his pouch. 🙂

So I started setting the lost crayons on my desk. But soon there were too many for my desk. And during my first year of teaching I had so many overwhelming roles to learn that even though I was bothered by these forgotten crayons, I didn’t have the time or energy to think of a solution for them. I got a cup, and they quickly filled up the cup. Then I got a basket, and they began to fill up the basket.

And then another thing started to happen all those years ago that really bothered me… when we went to do a special art activity, I’d say something like, “Get out your red…” and immediately several people would chorus “I don’t have a red!”–especially two crayon guy…he never had anything.

One day the light clicked on for me. The crayon basket, of course! It had all the reds we needed! I started a new procedure that has been tried and true since that first year I started teaching. We have the lost crayon basket for when someone is missing a color. The rule is if we are missing a color, we don’t yell out. We just go to the crayon basket and pick out what we need, and the best part of all is… we get to keep it! And do you know that the child who was so forgetful with her crayons earlier takes that “new” red one from the basket, uses it carefully, and then  puts it in her pouch and is sure to zip up her pouch this time so that she doesn’t lose it?

The rule at the crayon basket is that we can only stay there for five seconds, because we are guaranteed to find the needed color in five seconds. You know why? Because after fifteen years, this is my lost crayon basket bucket. It’s full of every color we would ever need!

I'm sure you think I shot the CapriSun beside the bucket for your viewing pleasure! Actually, that's just to let you know how big the bucket is. :) I’m sure you think I shot the CapriSun beside the bucket for your viewing pleasure. Actually, that’s just to let you know how big the bucket is. 🙂

A lot of crayons get forgotten. Until they are needed. And if a child has forgotten a blue crayon, when the teacher says to get a blue, the crayon becomes very important to the child, and it’s no longer forgotten. Especially when the child knows they get to keep the blue. It’s a treasure to them now, and they are glad to keep it.

The great things about the crayons in my class’s crayon  bucket is that they don’t stay forgotten. They sit in the bucket, ready for the time when someone needs their exact use. And then it’s their time to shine! They become very important to the ones who need them.

There’s another kind of crayon in the bucket…and that’s the broken crayon. Now, broken crayons are the most special ones of all! They may not be as pretty as the new ones; they may be missing their paper, their shine, their points, but they have a very special job.

You see, we have a lot of students coming to public school these days with certain learning, physical, and emotional needs. For a number of  reasons, they don’t have the fine motor abilities to color and cut and write like what society expects for a “typical” kindergartner. Some of them have never even held a crayon, so it’s hard for them to learn how to fill a picture with color. I remember the first time I had a student with a physical need that required more practice than what I was providing in the general setting. The wonderful occupational therapist for the county came in and looked over his workspace to help me and give me pointers on supporting him with writing, coloring, and other fine motor skills. And guess what she did first?

She took his brand new crayons and BROKE them. And I was horrified! One by one, as she was just talking to me, she just stood there breaking away, and I could only look on in horror! Finally, I found some words in my head and yelled “What are you doing?!?” And our awesome therapist said words that have stuck with me…she kept on breaking and she said, “Paige, broken crayons make weak hands strong.”

Broken crayons make weak hands strong.

Kids who can’t hold a pencil can grip a broken crayon. They have to bear down and hold it tightly with correct finger positioning when their crayon is broken.
And I have also learned that kids who need emotional and behavioral support love to use broken crayons. They can bear down and push and scribble and make really strong marks with broken crayons without fear of getting in trouble for tearing up something new.

I know that  some people reading this today feel like an old broken or forgotten crayon. You may be broken down by physical health problems or relationship issues. Or you may be chipped away by little things of life every day…a cruel word chips here, a busy schedule nicks there, until one day you look in the mirror and you are only half of the person that you thought you were.

I have great news for you, friends.

You are needed. God has an area of your life designed just for you. There is a need around you, and you are the perfect person to fill that void. There may be “weak hands” in your circle, or even outside of your comfort zone, and your brokenness might be exactly what those hands need to hold on tightly to in order to become strong. And if you feel forgotten? I can tell you with certainty that He did not forget you. You are never out of His sight, and He has something great in store for you! Here is what He says to His people in Isaiah 49:15-16 (NIV):

I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

You are not forgotten. You may feel that way, and feeling that way is hard–sometimes awful–but our human feelings are very fickle. They change with our circumstances like a tree sways in the wind. God’s word never changes, though, and He says that we are not forgotten.

You know those crayons in the lost and found bucket? They’re really not forgotten, either. They are just waiting for their time to be used. Are you ready to be used?

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Sharing with friends at sweettothesoul.com, purposefulfaith.com, Tell His Story, and holleygerth.com.

This entry was posted in Devotionals, Teaching and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

232 Responses to The Crayon Bucket

  1. Joanna Jones says:

    Love this

  2. gigihanna says:

    Very touching! Made me tear-up! A great reminder that God loves us and has a purpose for each one of us.

  3. Christy says:

    This is such a beautiful story!!

  4. Kathleen says:

    Paige, Such an enjoyable post! Once upon a time I was the Preschool teacher assistant and we had our own 2 crayon guy as well! I love how you wove this into reminding us we have a purpose. God will not forget us especially when our faith pouch only has 2 crayons and we feel we don’t have anything missing 🙂

  5. jlkennedy99 says:

    This is beautiful.. Thank you for joining our #SoulFriends linkup today! Blessings,

  6. Peggy G. Rhodes says:

    Absolutely beautifully said — and so true! Thank you.

  7. Glenda Harbison says:

    So well written and beautiful! I shared it with my friends as well-there’s bound to be a broken crayon (besides me) in the bunch.

  8. kaylietess says:

    I think I’ll just be repeating “broken crayons make hands strong” all day today. What a great picture of God power showing through our weaknesses!

  9. Oh, how I love this! My daughter is preparing to launch a kindergarten teaching career of her own in the fall (Lord willing). She’s been interning this semester in a K classroom. I’ll pass this post along to her, not only for the practical suggestion (keep a crayon bucket!) but also as a reminder about the broken and forgotten ones who are still useful no matter what. Thanks for sharing, Paige.

  10. Lauren Flake says:

    Love love love this!! Hilarious and poignant and true. P.S. Your link on the #SoulFriends linkup is not working.

  11. Paige I LOVE this!! It made me happy this morning and you shared just the message I needed to hear, in such a precious way- I have crayon box like that in our school room too- just can’t throw those broken ones out – Thank you for blessing me today! 🙂

  12. Sandra says:

    I’m going to tell my daughter-n-law about this, she is a Primary School teacher here in the UK taking the first years. Found you from Holley’s

  13. Heather says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE ♥ I have a collection of broken jewelry going on at my house that I’m looking at in a whole different way now….! What a gift you have for tying even the simplest things like lost crayons back to GOD! It goes to show how visible his works are if we are only paying attention! Have a great day Paige!!

  14. Being Woven says:

    Paige, this is powerful and delightful, all in one! I am a retired teacher and children’s librarian. I understand your beautiful words to a “T.” We are each unique and loved by our Creator. Oh, I wish I had understood that my whole life, and even now, as a 67 year old, I have my learning curve attacks, doubting myself, my weight, or this…or that…! I am so grateful our God loves us as we are and that His love wraps us up, molding us each day to be more and more like Him.
    I tutor K-3 graders now after school privately. Each child is unique and needs something different from me in regards to their ability to learn. BUT…the one thing they ALL need is to know they are accepted the way they are and loved because of who they are. Their success in school grows as their confidence grows. That is my job more than the ABCs.
    I am going to pass this post onto a college friend who taught in the same school district/2 schools – K/1 for 40 years. She is retired. She will love this as she is a Christian also.
    Your title drew me here from Holley’s today. : ) So thankful!
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

  15. sarahgirl3 says:

    Wow! I never knew crayons were so profound! I won’t look at broken ones the same again 🙂

  16. Cindy says:

    Praise God for you, Paige, and for all who have commented here. 🙂 I like colorful things and was drawn to your post at Holley’s because of the colorful crayons picture, and then the title. Thank you for what you have shared here. I am a bit of a perfectionist and so like whole crayons better than broken ones. This will be so good to remember when I see the broken ones. I still like to color at times. I am 58 years of age. 😀 What you have shared can be applied to many areas. I have a difficult relationship or two :), and it might be very helpful to see them in the light of what you have shined brightly here. God continue to bless you richly!

  17. As a former preschool teacher, I loved broken crayons for art projects. We would melt them down to create “stained-glass” art. But, Paige, I love how you used the “forgotten” and “broken” crayons both in your classroom and as a reminder that we are neither forgotten or too broken to be used by God. : )

  18. Mary Geisen says:

    Beautiful story. I love how our two blog posts connected this week. I spoke about broken children from the viewpoint of home life and trying to understand and cope once they are at school and you shared how a broken crayon is the perfect tool for the child who struggles to use. We are all broken but we have something unique still to give to others-we have a purpose. Thank you for blessing me here and over at my blog. Happy weekend.

    • Paige Givens says:

      I noticed that too, Mary! God has really spoken to us broken people, hasn’t He?
      I also noticed over at Holley Gerth’s blog that the prompt was about being broken!!!
      No such thing as coincidence!;)
      I loved your blog post.

  19. Pingback: #TellHisStory: Dear Graduate. (20 Bits of Wisdom for Graduates … and Maybe for the All of Us) | Jennifer Dukes Lee

  20. dukeslee says:

    Hi Paige! I’m stopping by to let you know that your post is our Featured #TellHisStory contribution of the week! Thanks for a great story.

  21. Pingback: Pulling me from the other side of the world | SP? OCD? ASD? Just one ME!

  22. ConnieTuck says:

    Love the story. I have always had a basket of lost crayons in my room. The children always knew where to go to find the color they lacked. Sometimes I would have a child who only had two crayons in his pouch but I would check it weekly and add some of those forgotten crayons to his pouch after school. He never knew he was lacking in colors. Anyways, yes we all feel broken in so many areas of our lives. Sometimes we even wonder how God could use us when we feel so broken. But you have to be broken for Him to put you back together to accomplish what He has plan for you even when you can’t see it at the time. Praise His Sweet Holy Name. I have learned that He is always in control when we feel out of control. How awesome it is to be loved so much and to be engraved on His strong yet gentle hands. Love you friend.

    • Cindy says:

      Hi, Connie: I really appreciate what you have shared here. It is such a blessing to read what you did for that child who had only two crayons in his pouch. 🙂 Praise God! God is so very good! God continue to bless you richly!

  23. Karen Cooksey says:

    Loved every word! What a true blessing in so many ways and in ALL the ways you pulled the story together bringing Gods light into the story. Blessed my soul

  24. Margie Tyner says:

    Great lessons taught in this post! I especially like broken crayons. The outer cover has been peeled off, and because of this, they are more versatile.

  25. Jackie says:

    I love this story and how it puts into perspective how God uses us also, even when we feel broken. He is always there no matter how what we are going through I love how this ties that in thank you.

  26. Julia says:

    Smaller pieces of crayons naturally promote the tripod grasp. As a teacher, I break all the crayons so students build hand strength to be better writers.

  27. Jana Byrd says:

    Bless you, Paige. This spoke to my heart in many ways.

  28. Elizabeth says:

    What a wonderful idea to use in the classroom! And, what a wonderful life lesson!

  29. Carina says:

    Beautiful! And one of my favorite scriptures 🙂

  30. Corbi Van Wagoner says:

    I cannot tell you how much this hit home. I am a broken teacher. I quit my job this year after 20 years. Just a few years short of retirement. You must be such an inspired person to have written this entry so long ago and it finally made it my way. Amazing. I love the reminder of how even us broken crayons have a place and job and we are not forgotten by our Heavenly Father. Thank you!

  31. Sandra says:

    Wonderful on so many levels

  32. Deirdre J says:

    Wow. This post is so beautiful in the simplest way. You are a magnificent writer and no doubt a teacher that is most gifted in many way! Thank you for this beautiful piece. Sharing!

  33. Lacie says:

    This is beautiful! I will definitely be using a crayon bucket this year 😊

  34. Bobbie says:

    Love this story, had no idea of the bucket till I started reading, ty

  35. Susan says:

    What a great lesson. thank you teacher!

  36. Kaitlynn Bozeman says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I really needed to see things in this view.

  37. Vee Sweet says:

    You should read “the day the crayons ran away”…. Great story…my students love it!

  38. Rachel says:

    This is just what I needed for encouragement! I never doubt God, and definitely have gone through so many tests for my testimony! Most recently, I was hurt in a car accident on July 15, and my husband has his second heart attack July 23! Although we have had these awful things to go through, I know that God has a plan for us. Love this, and thank you for posting this when I needed a reminder. 💝

  39. Dawn Monge says:

    Thank you for this. After losing my husband last year, I took 4 months off to grieve and heal. Going back to the classroom of 24 fifth-graders, I felt broken, and like the 2-crayon kid (except I knew something was missing). It took some time, but each child helped to fill my crayon box up just a little bit more, as if each one represented a color that helped complete my box. I can truly say that by the end of the year, my class had a box overflowing with crayons, some used more than others, and some broken from their own issues, but together we were able to create an absolutely beautiful picture, and my life is forever brighter because of them. They were definitely that once-in-a-career class, that every teacher dreams of. 💗🙏🏻

    • Paige Givens says:

      Dawn, that’s beautiful. I’m sorry for your loss, and I’m glad your class played a part in some healing. I hope you have a class like that again this year!

    • Cindy says:

      Wow, Dawn! What an illustration! Thanks so much for sharing. May we, each and every one, be used in a “crayon box” to help create a beautiful picture authored by our loving Father God! 🙂 May God continue to bless you richly, and comfort you in your loss.

  40. Melanie says:

    Have you read The Crayon Box That Talks to your class at the beginning of the year… It would go a long great with your crayon procedures and how “all” crayons/people are important!! It was one of my faves to read at the beginning of the year when I taught kinder.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Melanie

  41. Kara says:

    Tears ran down my face as I read this. Thanks so much for the reminder. This year has been hard for my hubby and me. I hope I remember this each time I look at the crayon bucket in my classroom.

  42. Nancy K says:

    There are tears streaming down my face. I can’t explain why in a public setting, but thank you. Thank you.

  43. Angela says:

    I SO needed this beautiful & creative perspective today! The reminder of God having me etched on His hands & not being forgotten…Oh what a blessing! Thank you! I will look at my broken/lost crayon bucket daily with new eyes! 😊

  44. Sherry says:

    I really, really needed this today! Thank you and the sweet Lord for reminding me of this!

  45. Jennifer proctor says:

    That Mrs. Ponder!! 🙂 we love some broken crayons! Love reading your blog!

  46. Lora says:

    Love this! I always have a lost and found bucket in my classroom, too…waiting to be used.

  47. LucyT says:

    Reblogged this on Lucy Thompson and commented:
    Broken crayons make weak hands strong. Let that sink in. We are made for a purpose. We are important. We are loved. *I* am loved. Say that out loud.

  48. Debra T. Christian says:

    I love the big messages God gives in little things!

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