Looking for something for your child’s Christmas parcel that will stimulate creativity, learning and fun? Drawing tools like paint sticks, crayons and chalk are our pick, naturally!
While there is a range of drawing tools marketed to young children, not all tools are created equal. Making good tool choices for young children helps support, stimulate and extend a child’s drawing experience.
What we look for in drawing tools for children starting drawing up to early primary school age are tools that are:
- comfortable to hold in little hands
- easy and effective to apply (kids get so much joy and stimulation making bright and strong marks)
- thoughtfully designed to reduce mess or are easy to clean up (helping Mum and Dad feel more comfortable with their use around the house means they in fact get more use!)
To help you navigate your way through the field of options, here are the Squiggle Kids top drawing tools for children starting drawing up to early primary school age for 2020.
Put one or a collection of these under the tree this Christmas and you’ll be ticking the box on learning, fun and play and creativity!
1. Little Brian Paint Sticks
Available in three ranges – Classic Colours, Day Glow Colours and Metallic Colours and in a range of pack sizes (6, 12 and 24 sticks), Little Brian Paint Sticks provide a bright and engaging painting experience minus the mess! Operating just like a glue stick, the paint winds up and down inside a plastic tube, meaning little hands get less messy. And the beautiful, vibrant colours glide on with ease, giving little drawers the thrill of making exciting marks on a page.
Available from a range of independent toy stores in Australia as well as online. See, for example, www.toygalaxy.com.au.
2. Honey Sticks crayons
Available in three sizes – Originals, Longs and Thins, these crayons feel great in the hand and smell a treat too! Originals fit nicely in the palm of a young child’s hand and suit children 12 months and up. Longs and Thins have the same great feel, but suit an older child with a bigger hand – perhaps 2.5 years old and up.
Honey Sticks are hand-made in New Zealand, are non-toxic and made with food grade and natural ingredients. And, unlike a lot of other crayons which are marked as not suitable for children under 3, Honey Sticks suggests their range for children from 12 months of age.
Available online from Honeysticks
and some Australian retailers.
Other crayons to look out for that are also made for small hands and readily available in some of the major stationary retailers in Australia are the Faber Castel “Grasp Crayons” and the Faber Castel “First Grip” crayons. Note in both cases the manufacturer advises that these are not suitable for children under three.
3. Watercolour paints and brushes
When your child asks “Can I paint?” are you gripped with fear? Lauren: That was me until I discovered watercolour paints earlier this year!
Watercolour paint splashes and marks wash off easily with a damp cloth.
While nothing fancy is required to set up your child’s painting space (grab a plastic take-away container with a lid – the container itself is good to hold the water, the lid makes a great palette), we do recommend you purchase a separate brush in place of any you might get as part of a paint set. Paint set brushes are usually thin, flimsy and not dense enough to soak up enough paint to allow your child to make effective marks on a page. Brushes that are thicker (eg those pictured from Micador and Educational Colour brands) are easier for a small hand to hold and soak up more paint. Your child may also enjoy the painting experience more if you “prime” the paint with water before they begin to use it.
Lauren: At home we are currently using the Mont Marte Studio Series 26 piece watercolour cake set. While I do set out all 26 colours for my kids to use, you can take each paint cake out of the case to reduce the number of colours used at a time. The set we bought earlier in the year has proven durable and long lasting even though my daughter (3 years) sometimes immerses entire paint cakes in water!
4. Twist crayons or colour sticks
With luscious colours that are easy to apply, twist crayons or colour sticks are a real thrill for young drawers to use as their soft waxy crayon glides on smoothly and thickly. The plastic twistable barrel controls the amount of crayon used, keeps fingers and hands clean and reduces breakages. As they go on thickly, squiggles that run off the page can be harder to clean up. Therefore we recommend these for older children. To keep clean up manageable, we encourage using them outdoors or on newspaper or hard floors.
Try Mont Marte Studio Series – Twistable Colour Sticks (pictured). They come complete with a fantastic carry case!
No home drawing set up for young children is complete without a bucket of chalk! We love chalk because it allows families to take drawing outside on sunny days and everyone can get involved. Being a larger format drawing tool that washes off in the rain or with a hose, some children may especially enjoy this drawing experience because there’s less pressure to get their drawing “right” and feel more open to experimenting.
Chalk is also inexpensive, including because there’s no outlay for paper or another canvas!
Micador Early Start Egg Chalk (pictured) is easily managed by a child of 18 months, although the manufacturer recommends it for children from 2 years up. There are a range of other options, with the Crayola brand offering a wide range of colours. Cheaper options with more limited colours are also available from large retailers eg Kmart and Big W.
6. Micador Early Start Purse Pencils
We love these pencils for “on the go” drawing activities for young children. With soft leads, the lovely assortment of colours apply easily on the page and, being short and stubby, fit easily into a little hand. The manufacturer’s guidance suggests children from two years and up can use them, although we think children from around 3.5 years are likely to get more enjoyment out of these pencils. Markings on each pencil gives the child a cue for where to put their fingers for a tripod grip. The barrel of the pencil also includes cute animal pictures and a great durable case means they really are perfect for a purse or handbag on the go!
Paper (waiting in the wings!)
While we’d never suggest you place a roll of paper or a blank project book under the Christmas tree (Lauren: my kids would certainly exclaim “Muuuuuuuum” while frowning in immense disappointment), we do have a couple of go-to products that we suggest you have ready to go for when they open their new drawing tools:
- blank project books – these are ideal for side by side (parent + child or sibling + sibling) drawing activities and offer a bigger format for drawing than A4 computer paper. Project books are widely available from most newsagents and stationary retailers. Choose a book with a reasonable paper thickness (from 90gsm) so that your child can use both sides of the paper without too much bleeding through
- roll of big paper – big paper helps reduce the mess! Again, choose a paper with a generous thickness for the above reasons. We like the “Mala” paper from IKEA best for it’s thickness. It comes in a 30 m roll (45cms wide)
- a few pages of coloured paper or card. Mixing up the paper you use can stimulate new drawing ideas (black paper could be used for a space theme or fairy lights; blue for an ocean drawing).
- While in some cases reference is made above to manufacturer’s recommendations about the suitability of drawing tools for certain age groups, we have not comprehensively referenced these and suggest you make your own inquiries before purchasing.
- We are grateful to both Little Brian Paint Sticks and Honey Sticks for gifting us their products for our review. Rest assured, we wouldn’t tell you about them if we didn’t love them!