For many years I organized an international swap group that had over 1000 members. We exchanged swap packages each month. Over the course of five years I received all sorts of fun and nifty items. I also received a ridiculous amount of pencils and not being one for throwing away useful (and not so useful) things I held onto them until I could figure out a better use.
Enter a classroom of three-year-olds! I set up a bamboo utensil box with a variety of pencils for sorting and a tray with a pencil sharpener and smencils. The children sorted the pencils by color (math), counted the pencils (more math), arranged the pencils (spatial intelligence), and sharpened the pencils (fine motor) for days and days and days. One industrious youngster figured out a way to stack the pencils (awesomeness). Who would've thought?