I was sent Channie’s First Pencils and Channie’s My First Letters by Timberdoodle for review purposes. I have received no compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.
What Makes a Great Pencil for Preschoolers?
A quick guide to choosing the best pencils for preschoolers.
Preschoolers not only have smaller hands than older kids and adults, but their fine motor skills are much less developed. In fact, the entire reason you practice writing for preschoolers is to develop those fine motor skills. When teaching a child a new skill we want to give them appropriate tools. We are big fans of the Montessori Method over here so we always prioritize having child-sized tools when available. We also prefer tools over toys whenever possible.
Features to Look for When Buying Pencils for Preschoolers
So what are the features we are looking for in a quality preschool pencil?
- Strong/thick graphite. It is so frustrating trying to write or draw only to have your pencil break repeatedly. Worse than that is when you attempt to sharpen the pencil only to find it breaking while you sharpen it. I stopped by cute novelty pencils entirely for this reason. For older kids and adults it is Ticonderoga or bust.
- Size. You want to look for pencils that are both shorter and thicker than standard pencils.
- Quality. You do not want to hand your preschooler cheap pencils that are going to break. Learning to can already be a struggle for many kids. The last thing you want to do adds to that by having cheap pencils.
- Shape. My preference is definitely to use triangular-shaped pencils. I feel this helps a child learn to grip a pencil correctly from the beginning.
- Eraser. Kids love erasers. Adults love erasers.
My First Pencils Review
Percy (four years old) has been using these for a couple of months. Here is what I have observed. First off, Percy (and little brother Monty) love these pencils. Percy calls them “my special pencils” and always chooses them to write or draw with. Percy finds these easy to grasp and enjoys the colorful designs.
- These pencils are fat which makes them easier for little hands to grasp.
- They are short, making them easier for little hands to control.
- They have an eraser at the end (what kid doesn’t love an eraser?).
- They have fun patterns on them.
- They come with a fat pencil sharpener.
- They are round (I prefer the Firby rounded triangular shape).
- They have thinner graphite than the Firby.
Features to Look for in Letter Writing Workbooks for Preschoolers
My First Letters is a simple straight-forward workbook designed to teach preschoolers how to write their letters. The font taught is san-serif (no extra lines) and very simple. Incremental progress is taught with each letter. First, they trace the upper and lower case letters, then work on writing them on their own. Each page has clear instructions and symbols that both child and parent can follow.
Percy has definitely enjoyed this but can get frustrated when trying to write the letters on his own.
My First Letters Pros:
- Simple and straight-forward
- Dedicates three pages to each letter of the alphabet
- Includes digits (numbers) 0-9
- Incremental learning (from tracing to independent writing)
- Covers upper and lower case letter
- Visually uncluttered
- Simple picture to color for each page
- Price point. Currently sold for $12.95 on timberdoodle.com
My First Letters Cons:
- Consumable. You won’t be able to use this for multiple kids
Tips for Teaching Writing to Preschoolers
Never Pressure You Child
Preschool should always be fun! Yes your child will need to learn to do hard things and build up frustration tolerance, but always keep learning fun at this age. If your child isn’t enjoying it, take a break, pause (maybe for a day, maybe for weeks or even months) and start over. Remember, preschoolers don’t need to write. If it is a huge struggle, find other ways to work on their fine motor skills.
Keep it Interesting
Preschoolers have a small world. They have only recently learned that the world exists outside them selves. Teach them to write their name, their family’s names, their pet’s names. This website is a little clunky, but allows you to make and print your own worksheet pages.
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