Monthly Archives: November 2013

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

As a Dad, I’m always looking for fun and easy activities to do with my family.  We try to limit the amount of time my daughter gets to spend on technology in my house, and increase the amount of time she spends on creative tasks. Another Dixon Dad, Bruce Miller, showed me this easy and colorful craft perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I asked him to make this video.  You can see how quick and easy it is, using our precise and vibrant Prang Art Markers and Prang glue, of course.

Bruce turns a plain ole’ coffee filter into a beautiful Thanksgiving card, poster, placemat – or in my family, refrigerator art.  Another suggestion is to stick it into the middle of a fall flower arrangement for the table centerpiece.  My daughter is making them to mark the place settings at our Thanksgiving table.  I’m guessing she places herself smack dab in the middle between her doting grandparents.

Simple, affordable, easy and remarkable – Dixon, Prang and Lyra products all provide young artists with the tools they need to create.

If you are looking for something for the kids to keep the kids busy while you cook, this craft will give you one more thing to be thankful for.  Why not take a few minutes and join them?  Making crafts is about making memories as well.



Keyboards Shouldn’t Replace Pencils

This week, I submitted a guest column to the Orlando Sentinel regarding the benefits of traditional pencil-to-paper learning. The ‘My Word’ column below was published on November 20.

A recent Washington Post article looked at the scramble by American educators to teach typing skills to children as young as 7. Under new national Common Core academic standards, third-grade students will be tested on computers starting next school year.

What does that mean for traditional pencil-and-paper learning? There’s a strong case to be made for keeping it around. Clearly, my company, Dixon Ticonderoga Company, benefits from the continued use of pencils in schools, but independent research shows pencil-and-paper learning is superior to keyboards in certain circumstances.

A 2009 study at the University of Washington led by Virginia Berninger found children write longer essays, faster and with more complete sentences, if they write them by hand.

In 2010, researchers at Indiana University published findings in a study on handwriting that used magnetic resonance imaging to chart brain function. The study found that children who wrote letters by hand improved their composition and expression skills, and the practice aided fine motor-skill development.

But there is an even more fundamental benefit to pencil-and-paper learning: affordable access to learning tools.

Children from all socioeconomic levels deserve not only the chance to learn but also to express what they’ve learned. Focusing early education on typing detracts from teaching writing skills, and that can put some children at a disadvantage.

Even as the price of technology drops, many children in poorer communities still do not have computers, laptops or tablets at home. Pencil and paper can provide the affordable magic that opens a child’s world to learning.

That is one of the reasons Dixon Ticonderoga Co. has enjoyed a 15-year relationship with the Kids In Need Foundation. In the past four years, Dixon has donated more than $4.6 million in products to KINF, which makes them available to students in need.

Even the most hard-core traditionalist must concede that those in the next generation won’t be able to function without knowing their way around a keyboard. Indeed, keyboards enhance the learning experience as another enabling tool.

That being said, keyboards should never replace pencil and paper. Too much — literature, art, music, math and science — depends on keeping them around.

Big Things Happening in Charleston

About six years ago, a group of charming women from Charleston, South Carolina, decided that too many children in their tri-county school system did not have the basic school supplies needed to learn in their classrooms.  They found this situation to be intolerable and decided to do something about it.  And do something they did!

Flash forward to November 2013 when I had the pleasure of meeting these lovely and dedicated women when they invited me to speak to them at a breakfast meeting.  As the founders of Charleston’s “Teachers’ Supply Closet”, they now provide free school supplies to 34 schools!  But is that enough?  They’ve decided to increase their reach to provide even more free school supplies to 1,200 teachers and 24,000 students.  Supplies such as pencils, pens, paper, art markers, notebooks, rulers – you name it – if it’s needed in a classroom, they strive tirelessly to provide it.  Working in partnership with businesses and individuals, these determined women have streamlined the process to ensure that 95 cents of every dollar donated to the Teachers’ Supply Closet goes directly to supporting teachers and students according to a 2013 independent audit.

Teachers Supply Closet depends on organizations like the Kids In Need Foundation and Dixon Ticonderoga Company to keep supplies handy to educate America’s next generation.  Since 2009, Dixon has donated more than $4.9 million to KINF.  We will continue to do so, and I strongly encourage you to join us.

Let’s do the math.  One idea + one group of dedicated community volunteers = free school supplies for 24,000 students.  Help them out!  We do.  And we’ll continue to do so via one of America’s greatest non-profit organizations, the Kids In Need Foundation.



Earning FREE School Supplies with Prang Power

According to the National School Supply and Equipment Association, teachers’ personal money is the most common source of funds for classroom educational products. During the 2012-2013 school year alone, teachers spent a whopping $1.6 billion on school supplies.

That’s why Dixon Ticonderoga Company introduced the Prang Power Program.  Prang Power allows teachers and schools to earn free school supplies by sending in product barcodes from classroom materials that they already use, such as pencils and dry erase markers.  It’s just one of the many ways that Dixon Ticonderoga Company helps alleviate pressure on educators.

To utilize Prang Power, teachers or school administrators simply need to choose Dixon products, including Ticonderoga, Prang, Dixon, Lyra, Das and Oriole brands.  Next, clip the UPC labels on the back of these school supplies and mail them in to earn points toward free supplies throughout the year.

Points can also be earned through our online bonus offers. Find out the latest offers by following us on Facebook and signing up for our newsletter.  For more information on Prang Power, click here.  And feel free to send any questions you have to