The 5 Best Pencils For Kindergarten, According To A Fine Motor Expert

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Kids writing with pencils for kindergarten

Pick up a pen or pencil and jot down a few words. For many, it’s a simple task that requires little concentration. Now, ask your kindergartener (or rising kindergartener) to do the same or to scribble in a preschool workbook and you may notice furrowed eyebrows, little tongues poking out, and a pencil grasp that will likely look different from yours. That’s because learning to write requires concentration, putting those fine motor skills to the test. Scary Mommy reached out to Pediatric Occupational Therapist Marielle Marquez to learn what to look for when shopping for the best pencils for kindergarten.

The Expert

Marielle Marquez is a pediatric occupational therapist with extensive experience working with children of all ages. She is passionate about educating and empowering parents about child development and founded her company, Thrive Little, for this purpose. She earned an M.A. in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California in 2009.

What Fine Motor Skills Emerge In Kindergarten?

According to Marquez, it’s around the kindergarten years that children begin to use a dynamic tripod grasp, using their index and middle fingers and thumb. This grasp leads the fingers to initiate the movement, so instead of moving their entire arm like toddlers often do when using the palmar grasp, their arm remains mostly stationary.

However, it’s not unusual for children to develop different grasps, which Marquez says isn’t necessarily something that needs to be corrected. “The important thing to keep in mind is that we really do not need to worry about changing a child’s grasp if it is functional for them. The concern with many alternative grasp patterns is that they often can lead to fatigue, discomfort, or illegible writing. If those issues are occurring, something should be done to promote a better grasp.”

What Kind Of Pencil Should A Kindergartener Use?

Thick and triangular pencils can help with proper grasp, Marquez says, as well as making small changes, including writing on a slight incline and practicing regular muscle strengthening exercises that can lead to stronger writing skills.

And because kids nowadays tend to begin using technology at a younger age, Marquez says occupational therapists like herself have noticed a rise in writing difficulties. “The more time a child spends sitting stationary using devices like a tablet, the less time they spend building body strength, coordination, and motor skills,” she said. And it’s the larger muscles that support the smaller muscles needed for handwriting. In other words, providing your child with the correct writing instruments and setup are just as important as giving them the opportunities to build their physical strength and motor skills through play and exercise.

With all that in mind, here are the best pencils for kindergarten — from adorable Ticonderoga’s to small mechanical pencils.

1. The Fan-Favorite Pencil For Kindergarten

Known for its high-quality pencils, Ticonderoga’s My First Pencils are a much-loved set for kindergarteners. Their thick diameter makes it much easier for young writers practicing their handwriting to hold the pencil with a better grasp. This set maintains a seriously impressive 4.8-star rating on Amazon after 32,000 reviews, and parents rave about the quality and how much more comfortable their kids were using these pencils. Bonus points for latex-free eraser tops and an included sharpener.

Helpful Review: “These pencils are great for little ones. My son was in kindergarten and struggling with handwriting because of hand strength. These pencils helped tremendously and made my son less frustrated with writing. Highly recommended!”

2. The Best Short Pencils For Kindergarten

Marquez recommends shorter writing instruments as a helpful tool for children struggling to develop a mature grasp pattern because they reinforce using only three to four fingers. These short pencils are just under 5 inches long and are also thick, making them ideal for beginning writers.

Helpful Review: “These pencils are great for my Kindergartener! They are easy to hold, the graphite is darker than most other pencils so if she doesn't press really hard you can still see it, and she likes the colorful shiny foil pandas on them. She was proud to pack them in her pencil case on her first day of school!”

3. The Best Triangular Pencils for Kindergarten

Ticonderoga is consistently a trusted brand when it comes to pencils, so this second pick from the bran earns its spot on this list. These thick, triangular pencils are perfect for teaching kids the proper pencil grasp and their shape means the pencils won’t roll away and fall off a tabletop. Like our top pick, these feature latex-free eraser tops. And the pencils come in five bright neon colors, though they still write in a standard graphite color.

Helpful Review: “I am a former kinder teacher and principal. These are the BEST pencils ever. They are bigger and easier to hold and they have a triangular shape to help with proper pencil grip. I recommended these pencils to my teachers and parents each year. They are especially great for children that have dysgraphia. When my son was younger (he has dysgraphia) we tried pencil grips and various pencils and he preferred these hands down.”

4. The Best Colored Pencils For Kindergarten

Every little artist needs a great set of colored pencils. And those with tiny hands need this set of super thick, easy-to-grasp colored pencils that write on practically any surface, including paper, wood, whiteboards, rocks, and more. They’re a 3-in-1, so kids can use them as colored pencils, watercolor, or wax crayons. Parents will love that they’re nontoxic and water-soluble, long-lasting, and easy to erase. The colorful set with 24 shades also comes with a sharpener and a paint brush.

Helpful Review: “Good purchase for toddler learning how to draw and hold a pencil. She loves the colors and you don’t have to press hard to show up on paper (unlike mess free markers).”

5. The Best Mechanical Pencils for Kindergarten

Mechanical pencils for little kids? Yup! These once mature writing tools are now designed for kids in the learning-to-write stages with a triangular shape to guide finger placement and thick lead that breaks way less than you remember. This Paper Mate handwriting pencil set includes five refillable pencils, 12 lead refills, and two extra eraser tops.

Helpful Review: “I work with children who just learning to write and these pencils help so much with a proper grip that leads to better letter formation.”

Nice to Have: Adorable Erasers

Nothing gets kids excited to learn like fun and colorful learning accessories. And this animal-themed set of erasers is sure to do the trick. But they’re not just cute, they’re super functional, too. They’re easy-to-hold, clean-erasing, and even come with a built-in cleaning roller to pick up all those tiny bits of eraser shavings.

Helpful Review: “My five year old actually looks forward to mistakes now that he has these super cool erasers with a little vacuum tool to pick up the eraser bits. Best gift Santa put in his stocking! Online school is tough and these have really made a difference. Thanks!!!”

Also Great: A Handwriting Workbook

Want to keep your kindergartener engaged in the afternoons when they get home from school and practice that penmanship? Hand them this handwriting workbook with one of the best pencils for kindergarten, and they’ll be all set to trace next to you. The dot-to-dot tracing method on these pages is easy for kids to follow, and they’ll also learn sight words and have opportunities to color, too.

Helpful Review: “This book was perfect for my 5 year old daughter. Her penmanship was not looking the best and this book has helped so much! I loved that you could do a few pages tracing the same letter because that is really what she needed help with, staying on the dotted lines and keeping them on the correct places between the lines. We loved it, in the back of the book they gave us an email link with more practice pages, so nice! We will be purchasing their number practice book next. Her teacher even told us that her writing has really improved, thank you so much!”

The Expert

Marielle Marquez, pediatric occupational therapist and founder of Thrive Little