These are not your grandma’s crayons—or even the ones you’re likely to have used as a child. Shaped crayons aren’t exactly new, but a growing number of artists, teachers, parents, physical therapists, and more are becoming hip to the perks of coloring utensils that transcend the old-school barrel design of yesteryear. These shaped crayons hone fine-motor skills and nurture writing grips of all kinds, and they’re fun and creative to boot. Here are five of our favorites.
1. Crayon Rocks
We love the earthy tones and artisanal touch of these Crayon Rocks. Founded by a former special-education teacher, the eponymous manufacturer is based in rural Kentucky, where one trusty machine spits out some 14,000 soybean-wax crayons a day. Their oblong, lightly tapered shape naturally promotes a proper tripod grip (using thumb, forefinger, and middle finger). Crayon Rocks takes top prize for both quantity and quality: Each set of 16 comes in a supple muslin or velvet cinch pouch. However, parents beware: These crayons are quite small, so they could be a choking hazard for very young children.
2. Mimoo Finger Crayons for Toddlers
If your child is teething, consider this stellar alternative by Mimoo. These crayons’ stackable design might raise eyebrows, but it’s actually a stroke of genius: Rather than teach tripod grips, like others on this list, Mimoo wants toddlers to hold these crayons as they naturally would, balled up in their palm. The bulb-shaped end allows kiddos to do just that, while a pointed tip makes for easy scribbling and a hole down the middle heads off any choking nightmares. Plus, they’re nontoxic and totally washable. What more could you ask for?
3. Crayola Triangular Crayons
No crayon roll call is complete without Crayola. Here, the art-supply titan has traded cylinders for prisms, creating a three-sided crayon that both refuses to roll anywhere and encourages a tripod writing grip. A multi-pack with three boxes of eight crayons each is available on Amazon for under $15, making it great for teachers looking to buy in bulk.
4. Tencoz Egg-Shaped Crayons
These crayons too are designed for avid little artists (age three and up) who don’t use a tripod grip. The nontoxic, washable crayon set is exactly what it says on the tin, and then some, coming in nine brilliant colors. If these eggs feel substantial, it’s because they are: Unlike Mimoo’s hollow crayon set, these are totally solid and admirably shatterproof.
5. Alex Jr. Tots First Crayons
Allow this set to be your child’s bridge between a fist and tripod grip. This crayon set goes for more of a flat star design, with five rounded points and an indent in the center. Just be aware that these are smaller than the product images might imply—great for little hands, but less great if you’re worried about a choking hazard.