Notes to a Montessori Parent - Reasons to Provide Crayons (& Pencils) Before Markers
There is some thought especially with Occupational Therapists that young children would benefit from using crayons before moving onto other drawing materials like markers. Although my toddler on occasion uses markers, I have to agree and it's not just crayons. I feel there are many reasons why young children would benefit from using pencils, oil pastels, perhaps even charcoal and paint sticks before using markers.
Using a marker it's very easy to produce a mark on paper. You can hold a marker at almost any angle with varying amounts of pressure and it still works. Markers are smooth and consistent, and just don't give the child the same sensory feedback as other materials.
Crayons require more pressure and varying amounts of pressure are needed to write and colour. This pressure takes more effort and helps to develop the small muscles in the child's hands. The foundation skills of using a crayon as a toddler will assist later with higher-level tasks such as correctly forming letters when writing, drawing or colouring within lines.
Crayons come in many different shapes and broken crayons or broken oil pastels can help promote a good tripod grasp. Generally, crayons are smaller and easier for small hands to control. Materials like crayons, crayon-pencils, oil pastels, charcoal and paint sticks give more feedback and resistance on paper. They can be more satisfying to use. The child can use them to experiment with pressure and angles including shading, blending, and layering allowing the child to learn through trial and error and learning how to get different results on the paper. Materials like these are more expressive and can provide a multi-sensory experience.
Crayon Rocks are fantastic for developing fine motor skills.
While we aren't too concerned about pencil grip at this toddler stage, it's wonderful to see those little fingers come together and begin to show more controlled movements.
This movement is a lovely precursor to writing!
We use lots of crayon-pencils and paint sticks too! Paint sticks have such a rich texture and vibrant colours.
Resources we use: Playcolour Paint Sticks (we recently used the Crayola paint sticks and they weren't the same texture so buy on a recommendation or try them first), Crayon Rocks, Beeswax Blocks, Lyra Groove Triple Pencils, Stabilo Woody 3 in 1 Pencils, Oil Pastels (we use many brands of oil pastels and find them all very similar). Otto pictured drawing here is two years and 11 months old.
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