The Case of the Crumbling Eraser…and other Eraser Chat

Nothing makes my blood boil like peering into the supply basket after a long day and seeing erasers that have been crumbed to disintegration or stabbed repeatedly with pencil marks. Even more fun? Seeing an entire hole through an eraser with a pencil still stuck in it. Is this really what students are doing during my fabulous demonstrations? When are these acts of vandalism happening? And more importantly why are erasers these days so crappy? Erasers-Gone-BadIf your erasers in the art room look anything like these, you know what I am talking about. When choosing Erasers to order for your art room, it seems the options these days are plentiful, but the quality is a little sketchy. For example, you could get these ‘gummy’ square erasers from Blick (and other brands, too). These erasers do not leave tread marks and do a pretty good job of erasing, but the texture of the erasers is an addictive sensory thing for jittery kids. They are crumbly, soft and downright fun to mess with.

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Our old friend, Pink Pearl is still one of my go-to’s, mostly because it’s what gets donated to me, and they are cheap. However, these can leave pink lines on the paper, quality can be unpredictable (watch out for off brands and impostors) and gosh darn it, they just don’t erase pencil lines as well. This will drive your perfectionist art students absolutely batty. The thinner shape also makes it much easier for kids to break them in half, cut them with a scissors, or stab a pencil through. Lovely.

There are some other beautiful higher end erasers that have many of the good qualities I am looking for, but can cost triple the price and you run the same vandalism risks and will then be out even more of your precious budgetary dollars.

There are many organizational solutions to this issue, such as not handing out erasers except when necessary. Some teachers may even take erasers away from the whole class when they find damage. However, time is precious and there are a lot of other fish to fry. These solutions aren’t always options.

So, Let’s Talk Erasers.

What brand and type works best for your art room?

Any tips on keeping your erasers in tip top shape or creative ideas for the case of the mutilated eraser?

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • I definitely had the same issue, and my solution was to offer only a few erasers at a time to the class, as nobody needs an eraser for the entire class period. For a group of about 15 I’d only put out 4 or 5 erasers and have the students share one or two per table. If I see students are damaging the erasers (for me it’s usually poking holes in them with pencils, I will put them in an eraser-free workspace that day and instruct them to only draw VERY lightly at first.)

  • Lauren

    Like every other art teacher I have run into this same issue especially with the older grades. Using a Sharpie, I wrote each students name on an eraser so each student had their own eraser for the year. At the end of art, the erasers go back in the box and I store them until next time. It’s amazing how much better care they take of them.

    • Very interesting how putting a name on the supply can increase awareness and care for the object! Does this mean you have hundreds of erasers stashed away and get them out for each individual class? I saw 600 plus students in a week. I am curious how you manage this.

      • Lauren

        I, too, have almost 600 students. I just keep the erasers in the box they come in and have a designated spot for them on the shelving unit by my desk. The box is labeled with the class code and I just pull out the box when needed. I have only done this for 5th-6th grade, though. The students know where I keep their class box so if they need their eraser they can just grab it.

  • Theresa Ornoff

    After years of providing pencils and erasers to my intermediate students I realized that it would not be too big of an imposition to ask them to bring a pencil to art. Compliance is high and I have a jar in the shape of a monkey with loaner pencils. If a student forgets a pencil they get one from “the monkey jar”. I also experienced disappointment with my angels when they destroyed my erasers so I numbered them with a sharpie. At our school each student has a classroom number for their “cubby” so they choose their numbered eraser and return it after class is over. A quick glance and I can tell if they were all returned and in good condition. I don’t use pencils with my primary students because they draw better (and bigger) with a black crayon.

  • Michelle Kormos

    The best solution=giant $1 erasers from dollar stores. I have one of these guys in each table basket and no more missing or vandalized erasers. It will last for the whole school year or longer!!

    • Stephanie

      cool idea!

      • Michelle Kormos

        Try it. It’s too big for kids to steal or lose it. No more replenishing mini erasers every two days for me. :)

        • Kristen

          I use those giant erasers as well. Although I have had one or two broken in half in the past, they are still huge and hard to go missing or be easily broken.

          I do use some of the white erasers as well. I lend those as needed too but usually lean towards the giant erasers.

    • Great suggestion. This sounds fun!

    • Mandi

      I got one very similar to this, but all it does is smear the page, instead of erase my mistakes. I was SO excited when i saw it, because I’m always looking for new office supplies, so it was a huge disappointment when it didn’t work. Does anyone know how to make an eraser work better?? It would mean a ton if anyone could help me out here.

  • Lisa

    The middle school art teacher had a bunch of scraps of that soft-cut block printing material. He cut them into little squares and they make GREAT erasers! When I DO buy erasers – I buy the White Pearl. I can’t stand pink erasers and the white ones seems to work really well. They are a little more expensive than the pink, but I cut them in half before distributing them to the students. But yes – eventually they all end up with holes and pencil lead in them. I tell students that if they choose to damage school property (erasers or ANYthing in the artroom) they have to pay for it. Since I can’t make them pay in cash, I make them pay in time – recess time. They don’t like that so much. However, it’s so hard to actually catch them destroying the erasers!

  • mrs.p

    Have been buying nice “Mars staedler(sp.?)” Then one day bought white erasers at “everything’s a dollar” and they worked the same. Never looking back. If they’re cheap, my heart’s not broken when they’re in little white crumbles

  • Mrs.C

    When i first started teaching I used the gum and white erasers because they erase so nicely but after having students stab, crumble and completely destroy them time and time again i stopped buying them. I now buy only the little pink eraser caps for the ends of their pencils. It’s hard to stab the eraser when its on the end of your pencil! They work well and my supply lasts all year! :)

  • Marie Elcin

    My predecessor had eraser/sharpener boxes for each table with 4-5 pink blick erasers and sharpeners in each, so I kept the system going. The kids sharpen the pencils over the boxes to catch shavings and I clean them out once a week or so. I have a cabinet filled with a backstock of sharpeners and erasers, so I haven’t felt precious about them. But lately my pet peeve is how many erasers I see on the floor at the end of the day.

  • erica

    I work at an elem school with about 550 kids. This year I asked them to bring their own basic supplies and it has worked really well. The kids have an art box and a notebook/sketchbook. In their box, they should have pencils, glue bottle, glue stick and markers. Optionally, a pencil sharpener and extra erasers. If they run out or lose it, it’s on them. I haven’t had a single complaint other than at the beginning of the year, when I rolled this out, there was some confusion. But, I think next year it will go even smoother. Parents are supportive of teaching their child a lesson. I think having them bring their own solves a bunch of issues. One being my budget! But, this way the kids can learn the consequence of not having supplies, losing them or clogging their own bottle. Having them bring their own sketchbook means I no longer remind them how much free draw paper they can take or what and how they free draw. This system is amazing and has fixed many an issue. I highly recommend this and wish my high school colleagues (when I worked at that level) did this, rather than an art fee. Kids (people) take responsibility when it is there. They take these things for granted because we all just have to replace the missing items. My principal prefers this too. No more eraser issues in my little art room :)

  • TiffE

    I’m really interested in the idea of the eraser pencil caps. Anyone else tried that and have success?

    • Mrs.C

      Yes! i use them all the time and they work fine! commented about it below a few comments. :)

  • Fiyona

    If i catch a student trowing or breaking an eraser for fun, he has to come back during rescess and I make him calculate how mutch it would cost if I had to replace an eraser for each day of school year. 200 times 1$ divided by 2 because I split them in two with a cutter at the bigining of the year. It still add to a lot of money for nothing and they realise it. On the next class they show the math they have done whit me to the whole group before whe go on whit our project. It works!

  • RWS

    This drives me crazy too! I teach 1-8 and I find that not all grades are nutty about erasers. My solution has been to only have about 10 erasers in the “eraser basket” at a time so they have to share no matter what. I use the white erasers and cut them in half to start. When there are no erasers in the basket or people are starting to fight over them, I make my announcement…”I started out with plenty of erasers this quarter, but unfortunately people have been accidentally taking them with them when they go, or losing them in the room, so I’m sorry but you can’t use erasers until they come back.” Miraculously, my basket starts to fill again. I also ask the kids to be detectives and see if they can find erasers lying around that they can “donate,” which makes them feel good about helping out.

    The crumbly erasers have been banned from my room and I find pencil caps have a short life span. I save a set of small kneaded erasers for special charcoal projects, so I have a numbered plastic mini-muffin container that they go back into at the end of class. I love the dollar store idea! I try to have my art supplies look different from regular supplies so that kids can be on the lookout around school.

  • Art on my hands

    I have an eraser free art room. Students use erasers only on very rare occasions where I feel they will truly need to do some erasing. The rest of the time, I operate with the motto “There are no mistakes in Art – fix it, change it into something new, think how to creatively work with it.” I’ve been teaching like this for about 8 years and my students are resolved to the fact they can alter and fix anything that might be a mistake. I like to think it also slows them down so they think and plan prior to beginning to draw. Yes, I do not have 100% support for my practices and there is one middle school teacher in particular that is quite critical of my lack of erasers. I personally feel like I am inspiring creativity and freedom of expression because we can not make a mistake. Also, no more holey papers or crumbled erasers in my classes!

  • Hello! I have taught art for 22 years. Nineteen of them at the elementary level. I am now at a jr. high and have found the best tool EVER for eraser management.. a plastic ice cube tray! I put 12 new white erasers in the tray at the beginning of the year and I am STILL working off of the same 12! Very easy to see how many are missing and to see the condition. I could number the tray and the tables and make sure each table puts back the correct eraser, but I am not that organized to keep track of that for each class. The kids are great about it and will look for the missing eraser. This will be one of my go to gifts for my student teacher!

  • Suzanne Bauer

    I have a new solution this year that works really well. Each table has a zip lock bag with two white pearl erasers with my last name written on them in sharpie and a pencil sharpener. Each of my tables is labeled with a color and the baggies are labeled to match. The kids pick up the baggie at the start of class and have to turn it in at the end of class I just count the baggies, look i them and can count the erasers and sharpeners. Super fast, easy and effective.

  • Angela Van Roekel

    While small and fairly cheap, I have been looking for a better method of getting the most use of erasers. I have found that giving the students the Pink Pearl erasers at the beginning of the year and they are in charge of how to care for them daily allows them responsibility and care of supplies. If too many disappear or crumble to pieces, I do replenish them as need be. However, I love the white oval factis erasers. I keep a few of those in my apron pockets and in my desk so that when students are not able to get the results from the pink pearls, I do hand them out, but make sure to get them back from each student at the end of class.

  • Kate Redding

    I collect all the used pencils and erasers from kids and teachers that I can. The end of the year brings a bonanza of them. I cut up the erasers and sharpen the pencils. We do have a serious theft problem at our school and anything good just disappears. I no longer worry about it. When the erasers get low, I ask the kids to bring some in, and they do!

  • Brenda Gonzalez

    I’m with you Art of My Hands: I only provide erasers when kids are ding final draft work. If they are sketching or rough drafting their work doesn’t need to look “perfect” and they are “experimenting” anyways. This helps them learn to problem solve.

    When I do provide erasers I only hand out one per table, to help teach sharing too.

  • Bluejeanne

    Hi, I have solved the eraser issues in my Junior High class room by buying only 1inch soap erasers. I then cut them into wedges that are sharp and students are able to make very precise erasures. Because I get 4 to 6 erasers out of one soap eraser I don’ t mind the waste. Their drawings are better and they are less frustrated with the process of correction. We use whole eraser as blending tool for white charcoal on black paper to create the grey tones.

  • Jen Matott

    I get the white erasers too with the paper wrapping. That seems to stop stabbings for awhile. I also show this video at the beginning of the year to all my classes and when we need a reminder. I put the erasers in an ice cube tray up on my demo table and hand out as needed. I do not hand out right away and have a poster that lists what to do if you make a mistake BEFORE erasing or recycling. Here’s the link to the eraser video:
    I didn’t make it but it’s genius! The kids name the erasers too afterwards!

    • connie

      would you mind sharing what is on your poster? :)