Every parent wants to give their children the best start in life, writing is one of the most important skills that we learn as children. Starting out the right way with the correct pencil and developing a proper tripod grip is vital to ensure that your child does not end up with bad habits that are a lot harder to change when they are older.
In this guide, we will show you what the 10 best pencils for preschoolers & kindergartners are, and which pencil you should start your child off with.
Then which pencil you should move them onto to promote a proper grip. The pencil sharpeners for Kindergarteners Pencils are a different size and we recommend a couple of the best jumbo pencil sharpeners for these types of pencils.
For those parents whose child is left-handed or would like to try something a little different we also show you an ergonomic mechanical pencil that is available in left and right-handed versions. these are a good alternative to jumbo or fat pencils as they are sometimes referred to. And the parents whose child is left-handed often find that their children find them easier to use than a jumbo pencil.
Table of Contents
- 1 How to Choose a Kids Pencil
- 2. Should Kindergarteners Use Fat Pencils
- 3. Start with a Jumbo-Sized Round Barrel
- 4. Then Use a Triangular Shaped Pencil to Develop a Proper Grip
- 5. Jumbo-Sized Round Barrel Kids Pencils
- 6. Jumbo-Sized Triangular Barrel Kids Pencils
- 7. Mechanical Pencils
- 8. Jumbo Pencil Sharpeners
1. How to Choose a Kids Pencil
When choosing a pencil for your kids whether they are kindergarteners, preschoolers, or toddlers there are a couple of things to take into consideration to ensure that you get the right pencil for your child. If you get it wrong then your child will find the pencil uncomfortable to hold and difficult to control. The lead will also break frequently leading to added frustration. Although it is called pencil lead it is not actually lead but graphite, if you would like to know more then check out our post What is Pencil Lead, Made Out of?
Starting out with the right pencil and then switching to a pencil that helps to promote a proper grip is essential to ensure that your child develops their writing skills in the proper way.
2. Should Kindergarteners Use Fat Pencils
Parents often wonder if they should buy fat or jumbo-sized pencils for their children who are starting Kindergarten.
It is widely advocated by many teachers of preschool and Kindergarten students that standard size #2 pencils are not suitable for kindergarten aged children as they have not developed the motor skills to hold them. The barrels are too long and thin and the lead breaks easily as the children cannot control the pressure on the point of the pencil as older children and adults can.
A 2015 study by Becky Sinclair and Suzanne Susan Szabo for the Texas Journal of Literacy Education tested preschool and kindergarten students to find out what impact the size of the pencil had on the students.
As you can see from the table, they used four pencils that had different lengths and diameters. A different pencil was given to the children each day to write with and on Friday they were asked to choose their favorite pencil to write with.
Note: The total number of preschoolers in the study was 66 and the total number of kindergarten students was 32.
The results were quite surprising as an overwhelming majority of the children at preschool chose the short skinny pencils. Whereas the children at kindergarten preferred the long oversized (jumbo) pencils.
This does not mean that you should rush out and buy golf pencils for your preschoolers but it is certainly an option worth considering. Remember that this is only one small study and nearly all preschools will either be using or recommend jumbo pencils. Perhaps try both with your child and see which they prefer.
Don’t forget no matter how busy you are you should never leave young children unsupervised with any writing instruments.
3. Start with a Jumbo-Sized Round Barrel
The studies by the Texas Journal of Literacy Education, confirms that the best pencils for children who are just learning to write need to have a nice wide jumbo-sized barrel and a thick graphite core that will not easily break.
We recommend that you start your preschooler or toddler off with a pencil with a wide round jumbo/ oversized wide barrel and when they first start kindergarten. This will be comfortable to hold in their little hands and allow them to get a firm grip. These types of pencils usually have a thick graphite core around 4mm that does not easily break making them perfect for kids to write with.
4. Then Use a Triangular Shaped Pencil to Develop a Proper Grip
Once they start in kindergarten and develop their motor skills then it is time to switch them to a triangular-shaped pencil ready for elementary school. It still needs to have a wide barrel but the teachers will already be showing them how to hold the pencil with a tripod grip.
The tripod grip is considered to be the best way to hold a pen or pencil and the triangular shape naturally helps your child’s fingers hold the pencil in this way.
Children often find that learning to hold a pencil with a tripod grip is uncomfortable to start with but as they get used to holding a pencil this way it gives them greater control. Once they have mastered this grip and have greater control of the pencil then it is easier for them to write more neatly which is very important.
5. Jumbo-Sized Round Barrel Kids Pencils
We recommend that you start with a jumbo-sized round barrel for your kids who are at preschool or kindergarten. The other thing to take into consideration is the length of the pencil most of the pencils are the same length as a standard-sized adult pencil.
There are some teachers that believe that the Jumbo-sized pencils are too long for their students. And recommend using a shorter pencil which they think is better proportioned and balanced for your child’s hands. This goes against the results from the study which showed that the kindergarten students chose a long oversized pencil as their favorite.
The other issue with this is that all the jumbo-sized (fat) pencils are the length of a standard size pencil. And the smaller pencils such as the Dixon Ticonderoga Golf Pencil and the Write Size pencil may be shorter but their barrel diameter is thinner than that of a jumbo size pencil.
5.1. Dixon Ticonderoga My First Pencil
The Dixon Ticonderoga My First Pencil is the number one choice of parents and teachers for preschoolers and kindergartners. These pencils have a nice wide barrel at just over 10mm in diameter and a strong dark #2 HB graphite core that is smooth writing.
They are the biggest selling beginners children’s pencil on Amazon with over 19,500 5 star reviews and completely blow away any of the other kid’s jumbo-sized pencils for sale online. A lot of the positive reviews are from school teachers so you can’t really get a better endorsement than that.
There are lots of manufacturers selling jumbo or fat pencils and we have the best listed here but what makes Dixon Ticonderoga stand out from the rest is they are made from quality materials. Dixon Ticonderoga uses American Incense Cedar Wood to make all their Ticonderoga pencils, it is a softwood that does not splinter and is easy to sharpen without blunting the sharpeners blades.
By using quality materials means that Dixon Ticonderoga My First Pencils do cost a little more than the others but are well worth the extra cost. It will save your child lots more trips to the pencil sharpener and the frustration of the lead breaking more easily. If you would like to know more then check out our post on Why Do Pencil Leads Break So Easily.
5.2. Dixon Ticonderoga Beginners Pencil
Some people get a little confused as there is also a pencil called the Dixon Ticonderoga Beginners Pencil. It is exactly the same diameter and length as the Dixon Ticonderoga My First Pencil but it is embossed in green with “Beginners Pencil” instead of My First Pencil.
It looks like the Beginners Pencil is aimed at schools and people who require larger quantities and the My First Pencil for retail sales to parents.
Dixon Ticonderoga state that The Beginners only come in a pack of 12 they are unsharpened and can be bought with or without erasers. My First Pencils are pre-sharpened and can be bought as a pack of 2, a pack of four, or in a pack of 12. The pack of 4 is supplied with a sharpener.
Which brings us nicely on to pencil sharpeners unless you are buying the pack of 4 pencils that are supplied with a pencil sharpener then you will need to buy one. The pencils are too big for normal pencil sharpeners so you will need to get a bigger sized pencil sharpener.
5.3. Jumbo TOT Round Pencil
The Jumbo Tot Pencil is another good quality fat pencil for beginners. It is made in the U.S.A by the Musgrave Pencil Company who is another long-established pencil manufacturing company based in Shelbyville, Tennessee, and first started making pencils in 1916.
The pencils have a good-sized wide barrel that is 10mm in diameter with a smooth finish making them comfortable to hold. They are 7.5 inches long with a medium soft #2 HB 4mm thick graphite core and an extra-large latex-free eraser.
If you are looking for an alternative to Dixon Ticonderoga and would like to support one of the few companies that still make pencils in the U.S. Then give these pencils a try they are high quality and represent excellent value for money.
5.4. Dixon Ticonderoga Golf Pencil
This is another of our top recommendations and it may surprise you not the manufacturer, as Dixon Ticonderoga is one of the biggest pencil manufacturers in the U.S. But the choice of the pencil will as it the Dixon Ticonderoga Golf Pencil.
When researching for another blog post Dixon Ticonderoga Pencils a Comprehensive Guide. I was amazed to find that the Dixon Ticonderoga Golf Pencil is not being bought by golfers but by teachers of Kindergarten pupils as well as parents of young children at elementary school.
Even though they are not wide barrelled pencils These are a perfect size for Kindergarteners and elementary students as being shorter they are easier to control.
As for the pencil, it is 4 inches long and made from high-quality cedar wood with a latex-free eraser, and has #2 HB Graphite. They don’t have a wide barrel it is the same size as a traditional #2 pencil
5.5. Write Size Children’s Pencils Age 3 – 6
Write Size Pencils are the brainchild of an entrepreneur called Ross Williams he realized that the scale or the size of the pencil had a greater impact on young children than adults were aware of.
It is quite a simple idea, but basically, longer pencils are more difficult to control by younger children and thinner pencils are more difficult to hold. So he set about finding the perfect length of a pencil for a child ages 3 – 6 and the perfect diameter. Hence the Write Size Pencil was born, they also make a slightly longer pencil for children aged 6 – 10
When you consider that the selling point of these pencils is that they are shorter than standard-sized pencils and designed for age ranges they do not put the length of the pencils on their packaging or website. Neither do they put the barrel diameter but judging by the reviews the diameter is the same as a standard-sized pencil.
5.6. Crayola Write Start Colored Pencils
These Crayola Write Start Colored Pencils are great if you want to add a bit of color to your kid’s drawings. They have a thick barrel measuring 9.5 mm in diameter which is ideal for little hands and they are the same length as regular pencils.
These colored pencils have an extra thick 5.4mm core which is nontoxic but not erasable or washable. So keep an eye on the little ones when they are using these if you value your furniture and walls being mark free. Well as much as possible most of us have experienced the joys of their children scribbling on something they shouldn’t have.
6. Jumbo-Sized Triangular Barrel Kids Pencils
Most young children will start out with a Jumbo-sized or “fat” pencil then move on to a triangular-shaped pencil. The reason why teachers like triangular-shaped barrels so much are that they help the children put their fingers in the correct position to give more control over the pencil.
This is known as a tripod grip it is the most efficient way of holding a pen or pencil and as our child gets older and they have to write more and more this type of grip prevents pain or fatigue. If a child learns this grip early on then it prevents bad habits which are more difficult to put right as they get older.
For more information check out this post on how to devlop a pencil grasp it demonstates all the stages fom a pencil grasp when they are toddlers of 1-2 years old right through to a dynamic tripod grip by the time that they are 6-7 years old.
The larger barrels on Jumbo-sized triangular pencils make it easy for your kid’s smaller hands to grip the pencil. As you would expect the Dixon Ticonderoga My First Tri Write Pencil is one of the most popular. Some children may prefer a slightly smaller pencil so it may worth taking a look at them and The Faber-Castell Grip and Koala Tools are also good options for a triangular-shaped pencil.
6.1. Dixon Ticonderoga My First Tri Write Pencil
The Dixon Ticonderoga My First Tri Write Pencil has a large triangular-shaped barrel measuring 10mm in diameter.
This is one of the most popular jumbo triangular pencils it is made from high-quality cedar wood and has a strong dark #2 HB graphite core that is smooth writing.
At the end of the pencil is a large latex-free eraser, this is really useful as it saves your kids have to car an eraser around and for younger children, it is one less thing to lose.
6.2. Faber Castell Jumbo Graphite Pencil
Most People in the U.S may not be as familiar with Faber-Castell as they are with Dixon Ticonderoga, But Faber-Castell is actually the biggest pencil manufacturer in the world. They are based in Germany and have a reputation for making extremely high-quality products.
The Faber-Castell Jumbo Grip Pencil is no exception it has a large triangular-shaped barrel that is available in 8mm diameter or 11mm diameter. The soft grip dots along the barrel allow better control and I know of at least one teacher who uses these to teach the children where the correct height on the pencil is to place their fingers.
The pencil has #2HB lead that is extremely break-resistant and ensures easy sharpening and has a handy eraser at one end.
6.3. Lyra Ferby Short Tri-Grip Pencils
The Lyra Ferby Short Triangular Gip Pencils are made in Germany and have an unlacquered barrel chunky barrel that is 10mm in diameter. They are shorter than a regular-sized pencil measuring 4.5 inches in length which some children prefer to write with.
The pencils have a thick 2B graphite core that is 6.5mm in diameter. The 2B graphite core writes smoother dark lines than standard pencils #2 HB pencils which are 2 shades lighter.
6.4. Koala Tools Bear Claw Pencils
The Koala Tools Bear Claw Pencils make this list as they are a little different from most of the other pencils. They have a chunky 9mm triangular-shaped barrel which is great for kids’ hands and promotes a tripod grip when learning to write. But what sets them apart is that they have a softer and darker thick 4mm 2B lead core. 2B lead is two shades darker than standard #2 HB pencils, it is smoother to write with and is mainly used for drawing and sketching.
You can write with 2B lead but it is slightly more prone to smudging than #2 HB lead. However, this does not seem to be a problem from reading reviews of this pencil. A couple of people have commented on Amazon that the erasers are a little loose but it looks like the manufacturers have fixed this and the pencils now have an improved ferrule that holds the erasers securely in place.
6.6. Paper Mate Handwriting Triangular Wood Case Pencil Set
These Paper Mate pencils have a triangular-shaped grip, a thick #2 HB lead core, and a large eraser. They are supplied in a pack of 5 bright colors which may appeal more to children. Also included is a pencil sharpener.
Check out our Complete Guide to Paper Mate Pencils for more info.
7. Mechanical Pencils
Mechanical pencils are usually designed for older children you can find out more in our post The 6 Best Mechanical Pencils for children. However, Stabilo does make a couple of mechanical pencils that are designed for younger children. They have ergonomic grips and available in right and left-handed versions. Their 3.15mm mechanical pencil is suitable for children aged 5 years or older and their 1.4mm mechanical pencil is suitable for children aged 8 and above. You may also be interested in reading Wooden Pencils Vs Mechanical Pencils to find out the benefits of both types and when to use them. Obviously, this is for when your children are older but a little research never does any harm,
7.1. Stabilo Easyergo 3.15mm Mechanical Pencil
The Stabilo Easyergo 3.15mm pencil has been specially developed for children learning to write. For those parents concerned about their child having a mechanical pencil this one is extremely safe as it only has two simple parts.
The pencil has an ergonomic design with a comfortable grip zone and is available in both right and left-handed versions and various barrel colors. Parents who have left-handed children often find that their child finds it easier to use and prefer the left-handed version of this pencil compared to a wooden jumbo pencil.
The 3.15mm #2 HB pencil lead is extra thick and break-resistant making it ideal for children to use as they learn to write. The pencil is also supplied with a matching sharpener so they can keep a nice, rounded point on the pencil.
8. Jumbo Pencil Sharpeners
Jumbo pencils, fat pencils giant pencils, or whatever name you call them cannot be sharpened in regular pencil sharpeners. To sharpen these pencils you need a good quality sharpener with a wider opening to accommodate the larger diameters of these pencils.
Don’t skimp on price when buying a sharpener get a good quality one as the cheap ones are terrible they don’t sharpen properly the blades are blunt and dig into the wood and you end up constantly Sharpening and wasting the pencil. The following are some of the better jumbo pencil sharpeners.
8.1. K.U.M Magnesium Wedge Double Hole Sharpener
K.U.M sharpeners are made in Germany and are one of the finest pencil sharpeners around. The sharpener is available in a wooden version but the metal magnesium alloy ones are far more durable.
It is suitable for pencils that are 8mm and 11mm in diameter and can sharpen hexagonal, round, and triangular-shaped pencils. If you need a larger diameter sharpener then Kum makes a 12mm, 16mm, and 17mm sharpener check out The Ultimate Guide to Kum Pencil Sharpeners for more information.
8.2. Faber-Castell Grip Trio Sharpener
The Faber-Castell Grip Trio Sharpener is an excellent 3 in 1 sharpener with an ergonomic triangular shape that makes it easy to hold. It has three different sized holes so that it can sharpen regular, jumbo, and colored pencils with no mess as the shavings are caught in the canister.
You can sharpen round, hexagonal, and triangular-shaped pencils with this sharpener.
You may also be interested in:
The Wooden Pencil Brands Ultimate Guide – If you are looking for a new pencil then this is a must-read covering 20 of the biggest pencil brands with images and descriptions of over 200 pencils.