The best trick I’ve ever learned was to break crayons. That’s right! I know! Taboo. You should see the looks I get from parents, or other teachers. “Why do you have so many broken crayons in their boxes?” They ask. “Don’t you want to replace them?”
The quick, short answer is, “NO!” Yep. I don’t want to replace them at all. They are perfect for teaching the littles or kids who don’t have dexterity or strength to write. Breaking the crayons in half forces their hands to use a three-point grip. They are no longer allowed to have the serial killer grip. That’s what I call it. You know, the whole fist and stabbing paper motion. It’s enough to make me think of Chucky – even if I’ve never seen the movie. Nope. No horror stories in kindergarten.
Anyways, here’s how I introduce it to the kids and the families. We have conferences prior to school starting. If you don’t, it can be included in a newsletter or your open house presentation. I give every child a new set of crayons. I smile and say that they have a new set of crayons and I want them to do something very exciting with them. I hold it out in front of them. I say to the parents that this is going to help you write. Then I break it in half. Inevitable, I always see the largest grins on their faces. They love that they get to break the crayons. There are a few outliers, but for the majority, kids love it! Parents frown, until I show them that this forces them to use the writing utensil the correct way. I also explain that unwrapping the paper helps to build up their fine motor skills. It’s a win-win.
The kids get to take the brand-new set of crayons home and break them all. No more getting in trouble for broken crayons! It’s our new learning tool! It’s also probably my favorite part of our conference time, too.
Of course, don’t forget that there are tools that help too. Such as pencil grips. However, this just is the best, free, and fun way to practice!
P.S. – we don’t break our pencils. I do buy them the thick pencils or the triangular pencils. But we don’t do any writing with pencils until around mid- to late October. Depends on the class. We usually need to build up our stamina and strength first before handling pencils.
What tricks or sayings do you have to help kids learn to hold a pencil or crayon?