:: Stockmar stick crayons on the first day of Grade 1 ::
I think the Stockmar stick crayons for Grade 1 writing in Main Lesson Books, can provide challenges that are extremely frustrating for children. In the beginning, new from the store they are quite lovely, but the end quickly rounds and becomes very challenging for letter formation. Have you ever tried to write with a rounded top stick crayon? It is not easy!
:: Stockmar stick crayons in the early days of Grade 1 – about 2 months into the school year. By this stage, you can see the frustrations Chilli was starting to have with trying to form letters using these crayons ::
After the first month or so of Grade 1, I could see that this medium was challenging Chilli and that it was frustrating her with her letter formation. After pondering the issue, I decided that we would finish our alphabet work with the stick crayons and that Chilli could then switch to pencils at the end of our alphabet journey. I believe there is also value in struggling with and mastery over a medium – similar to our beeswax story with modelling the letters. At Chilli’s first frustration with the beeswax modelling medium for her letters, I didn’t instantly race to seek something alternative to use. We persevered and kept working with that medium, but in the end I could see the stress of trying to form the letters out of beeswax was doing more harm than good for her and we switched to a modelling clay. She now continues to use the beeswax in beautiful, soulful, nourishing ways – like modelling forms that come through and to her while I tell a story of an evening around a cup of herbal tea.
:: Stockmar stick crayons by the second term of Grade 1 – Chilli was very frustrated with this medium by this stage ::
Similarly to this above beeswax experience, I could see that to perservere with the stick crayons was doing more harm than good. I had originally, and ideally, thought that Chilli would use stick crayons through Grade 1 for her writing and transition or ‘graduate’ to pencils at the beginning of Grade 2. We tried several different wide mouth sharpeners, trying to form more of a point on the end of the stick crayons – even the Lyra Wachs-Riesen sharpener designed for a similar style stick crayon – but nothing worked. The interesting thing about the Wachs-Riesen is that they are a triangular grip crayon, which I thought for Grade 1 and correct grip formation, this would be perfect. Then a lightbulb moment happened! I had picked up the Micador Early Start Beeswax Triangular Grip crayons for Marlin to draw with one day in the art store. We grabbed out these crayons and tried them in both the Lyra and Micador sharpener and they sharpened to a really lovely point. Unfortunately, Chilli had already started for quite some time to use pencils, but really she has always had very good pencil grip since she was quite young, so I wasn’t overly concerned. However in our ‘garden wall’ we are creating for her end of Grade 1 Language Arts work with consonant blends, we needed to use a crayon to write on these cut outs as a pencil wouldn’t have been readable by the time it was tacked to the wall, higher up where our ‘garden’ is. It was through this process that we realised the value of these Micador crayons and the fact that they can be sharpened to a point for finer letter formation ability. Chilli is over the moon now with this medium – the consonant blend cut outs were really frustrating her again, because she didn’t have that finer point control over the letters she was writing. Many were quite illegible unless she was writing in giant letters!
:: A comparison around the beginning of Term 2 (Grade 1) using the Stockmar stick crayons for the heading words and pencils for the finer writing. You can see the difference in her ability to form letters better and in a more refined way with the pencils ::
Looking ahead to when Marlin starts his letter and writing work I will definitely be buying him a fresh set of the Micador Early Start Triangular Beeswax Grip crayons. They come in a set of 24 beautiful colours which give a lovely spectrum for drawing and writing. The feel of the crayons as they go onto the page is lovely and they have a good balance between that ‘creamy’ feel of the beeswax, yet they don’t wear down quickly as can often be the case with softer crayons. The colour transfer to the paper is lovely as well. As I said, it’s a really beautiful palette of colours provided in this set.
:: Again, another comparison as in the above example – around the same time. Stick crayons for the heading and pencil for the finer writing ::
:: Using pencils for writing now – around the beginning of Term 3 ::
I thought I’d share this experience and alternate beeswax component crayon, which in my opinion has it one up on Stockmar because of the triangular grip shape and also our ability to sharpen the tip to a finer point for writing. We are told that children through the primary grades should use the triangular grip Lyra/Stockmar pencils, so it’s interesting that the Grade 1 writing instrument is round in shape but then they switch back to a triangular grip pencil. My preference would be to stay with triangular grip in these Micador crayons (or the Lyra Wachs-Riesen if you had access to those as well – I assume with the companion sharpener for these crayons that we have, they would perform in the same manner) and then progress to a triangular grip pencil for the remainder primary grades.
:: Term 4 consonant blend work – needing to use something other than pencils on these wall mounted cut outs, we were using the Stockmar stick crayons which was causing great frustration for Chilli, until we thought about trying to sharpen the Micador crayons (pictures below) ::
As always though, different things will work for different people. I still think Stockmar stick crayons are fantastic, and I wouldn’t not have them amongst our homeschooling supplies as there is definite applications where they are the best choice of medium in my opinion. However in our experiences through Chilli’s Grade 1 year, they have definitely not been the leading choice for our daughter’s letter formation and writing work. I think they are great to begin with and I definitely would still use them in those very first letter formation days – but I think the tips very quickly become too rounded without an ability as far as I have managed, to re-sharpen them. We found that to get anything close to a good letter formation with the Stockmar stick crayons after the first month or so of use, the letters had to be quite large. Chilli was wanting to refine and scale down her initial large letter formations and so this provided great frustrations. The Micador crayons, able to be sharpened – provided the opportunity for her to form nice letters in a smaller size, while still using a Grade 1 crayon medium.
:: Work from the same time as the above examples, using the sharpened Micador crayons – Chilli was so happy with her ability to form her letters well in these pieces, after great frustration in the above examples ::
What has been your experience with Stockmar stick crayons and your child using them for writing in Grade 1? I know, the world over, they are used in Waldorf Grade 1 classrooms for writing – but I really struggle to see how it isn’t frustrating for the children in their attempts to form correct shaped letters. Possibly the Waldorf schools do use a sharpener for the crayons that I am unaware of?
:: Term 4 writing, using the Micador beeswax triangular grip crayons, having been sharpened ::