Baby Henry’s First Try with Pencils.

First, I gave him My First Crayola colored pencils. He liked them, but the points kept breaking when he dropped them from the highchair. I let him scribble with the first Blackwing MMX I ever had, a pre-production model (also the first pencil his sister ever held). He really liked that, with the minimal pressure required to make a mark. But when he started trying to chew the fancy ferrule, we gave him his own box of Crayola Write Start pencils, which are pretty danged hard to break. He was in Pencil Heaven, until he needed to go and take care of Nature’s call and to dumb bubbly water all over the dining room.

So now we have broken the Pencil Seal with Mr. Henry, whose pencil box is far from as impressive as his sister’s — though I think it might make a few grown-ups jealous.

Write Start Colored Pencils.

I hope I can be forgiven for some parent-centric posts. My daughter has discovered pencils, and this is exciting! Charlotte has been playing/coloring with crayons since around her first birthday in April 2011. She learned her standard eleven colors that way, and she really enjoys them. She recently graduated to some very very toddler-friendly colored pencils from Crayola.

I know: Crayola does not make the world’s greatest colored pencils, etc. But they do make a lot of coloring/drawing supplies for small hands. Charlotte is completely in love with their hexagonal, fat, strong, attractive colored pencils called Write Start. They are shorter than pencils, falling between crayons and “art” pencils at 5 inches long, and they are covered in graphics that correspond to the color of the pencils (a frog on the green pencil, for instance).  And, rather than a shoddy layer of paint, they have a nice matte finish that reminds me of Forest Choice pencils (in a very good way).

But what is especially nice about this pencils is how difficult they are to break and to wear down. Charlotte has only managed to break one pencil (and it was something that might have also broken a Bic pen or a finger) in two weeks, and we haven’t had to sharpen any of them yet, despite filling up most of a sketchbook with them. The one that she broke sharpened up very nicely with a Kum two-holed wedge. On the down side, the cores are also faint, and they only come in 8 colors. But Charlotte seems to really enjoy them as an introduction to colored pencils and to pencils in general.

Parental bonus: They travel better than crayons. There are only 8 colors to keep track of. They also don’t roll off of the table at restaurants and cafés like crayons do. If you have small children in your life, it’s a good bet that they might enjoy these.

(I found mine locally, but they are available from Amazon also and, I’d bet, lots of other online retailers.)