As you all know, I am a fan of interesting crayons and helping children develop a proper grip before they start writing. The crayons by Walnut Tree Infant Love are designed to help your child with that grasp pattern and are definitely interesting. So, when the company contacted me and offered to send me a set to review, I agreed. They sent me all three of their crayon sets: egg crayons, flat geometric shapes, and a cube puzzle. Each style encourages a different grasp, and as an OT, I can imagine using them all in my work. But as a parent, you may not need them all. Which one would be a fit for your child? That depends…. So let me tell you about them.
The egg-shaped crayons are clearly designed to be a child’s first crayon. A typical child should be ready to give these a try around age 2 or 2 ½ and be able to scribble with them. They are firm but make a good mark on the paper. And the interesting shape may help them appeal to preschoolers who are reluctant to draw with regular crayons.
There is a variety of ways these crayons can work. They can be held in a palmar grasp to color, or a child can place their finger inside the egg half and color that way. These crayons even function as a simple puzzle, and you can use them to work on color matching too.
I actually like these better than several other crayons designed for a toddler to use in a palmar grasp. These are a little smaller for tiny hands, thus more likely to get little fingers engaged.
We did break a couple during our home test. However, they didn’t break during “regular coloring” but instead from a fall off the counter and onto a tile floor. The pieces still color, of course, and actually promote a different grasp now, which is not bad. However, if your kids are super destructive, you should remember these are crayons and they won’t hold up against a child with a hammer.
My 10-year-old helped test out all the crayons and the Geometric Shape Crayons were her favorites for drawing with.
She found them to be the easiest set to create an actual picture with and liked how she could color with the entire side of the shape to color more area more quickly. However, the shape of the crayons makes it difficult to do detailed drawings for most kids.
Coloring with these shapes promotes a pincer grasp and strengthening finger muscles. This will help your child when it is time for writing and helps develop muscles needed for working buttons and stringing beads.
I recommend these crayons for the child who has not yet developed a tripod grasp. They can be used for coloring books, copying lines and simple shapes to promote the first steps towards drawing and writing. Around age 3-4 most kids should be able to use these. However, there is no upper limit if your child has some delays and needs to work towards a mature grasp.
During our testing, these held up well. When dropped from the table height to the tile floor, they didn’t break. Because they are crayons, I’m sure you could break them. But these did seem less fragile than the eggs, and a little thicker.
My daughter had two main criticisms of this style. She wished there was a brown crayon. And the black crayon is a circle. That made it difficult to make sharp outlines or clean edges.
Puzzle Cube Crayons
This set of crayons is the most novel of the line, making it good for older kids who “hate to color.” Each crayon is a different shape block and they all fit together into a cube. It reminds me a bit of three-dimensional Tetris. The crayons are the same solid quality as the other 2 sets, with a firm smooth texture and the ability to make a clean mark.
My kids all found working the cube puzzle to be engaging and interesting. They say that because the crayons don’t “click into place” you need to be sure to work the puzzle on a flat surface. They all think the puzzle would be too hard for most kids under age 8. We left the cube out on the table this week and it has drawn in both adults and kids to give it a try. Even teenagers who would rather have nothing to do with crayons sat and worked the puzzle this week. Some attempts have been made to find more than one way to solve the cube, so it has held their attention longer than I expected it would.
There was some concern that drawing with the crayons would make the puzzle no longer work. But the crayons are firm enough that I believe you would need to color with them quite a lot to cause an issue. Rounding off the corners some here and there has not affected the quality of the puzzle so far in our testing.
For coloring, these aren’t great. They are hard to hold and awkward to fit into your hand. However, If your child is prone to holding crayons “wrong” these can help to break bad habits. They can’t be held with a typical pencil grasp, even a bad one. These do promote using the correct hand muscles for a proper grasp, so they may help a child who needs to change their grasp pattern or develop muscles before working on a proper pencil grip.
They won’t draw fine art, but if you are looking for a way to get an older child who usually hates crayons to draw, these are a clever option. Older kids struggling with dysgraphia may benefit from this more mature and interesting set of crayons. Crayons that don’t have the negative associations they may have with more traditional crayon sets. And working the puzzle promotes the development of visual perceptual skills, which is also nice.
These are actually the largest and most durable set of crayons, as far as we can tell. They should hold up to being both blocks and crayons. I dropped them on the tile floor several times and they did not chip nor break.
Do you need them?
If your child is already happily coloring with their 64-box of Crayolas, these are not the right crayons for them, unless you just like the novelty. In my opinion, these crayons are for the child who is reluctant to color or needs to develop some fine motor skills. These crayons are more novel than the typical crayon shape, so may help engage kids who have shown little interest in drawing or coloring. If your child is delayed or really struggles, you may still need to encourage them to color, but having a different shape to the crayons can help your child build muscles needed for writing before moving on to regular pencils and crayons.
P.S. Here are the links to the crayons I talked about today. They are all available through Amazon or directly from the company’s website, www.WalnutTreeInfantLove.com under the category “Child Development”.
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.
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