Best In Class: Top Creative Tools for the Classroom

What’s a simple, effective way to promote a positive classroom learning experience? According to Maxine B, a teacher and principal with over 40 years teaching experience, the answer lies in quality creative tools. She generously shares her classroom experience and her advice on how teachers can help students enhance their learning potential and reduce frustration in the classroom.

What is the best way to encourage play and inspire creative ideas when writing, colouring and crafting?

Make sure your creative cupboards are overflowing with bright, colourful, high quality and accessible materials that are well maintained. At the top of my mind are colour pencils – high quality pencils should be ergonomic and filled with soft, rich pigments for rapid colour laydown to really make kids go ‘wow’. Secondly, the more variety you have, the better. If kids can choose from colour pencils and crayons to markers, paints and glues for their creative projects, they’ll really feel inspired because they have freedom of choice. Materials should also be available in abundance, so kids can share freely and not fight or compete over who gets to use what.

Did you know?

Learning Development Specialists say kids are most engaged when they’re free from distractions and frustration. Focussing on the task at hand is helped by materials that don’t fail them (or you!). Pencils with bland colour or glue that doesn’t stick or dries out frustrates the creative process and children are then less likely to be engaged - interrupting your learning plan. Along with our partners at UHU we have developed our learning and creative materials with this in mind to ensure our products are of the highest quality, minimise frustrations during use, enhance the creative experience and maximising learning time.

What elements keep a child engaged when practicing writing and colouring?

As a healthy foundation, good instruction, encouragement and feedback from you, the teacher, is critical. On top of this, the supply, quality and accessibility of creative materials all influence how well a student engages in a lesson. From my experience, hard and thin colour pencil leads are slow, tedious, require excessive use of limited fine motor skills and tire muscles quickly. But, if you give kids colour pencils with thick, rich and brightly pigmented leads, engagement will skyrocket, leaving them very satisfied – and with happy, healthy hands to boot.

Did you know?

All Faber-Castell pencils use a patented secural bonding (SV) process, meaning the wooden slats used in pencil production are glued the entire pencil length. This completely protects the lead core, making it much easier to sharpen and far less susceptible to unwanted breakage.

What product features make for the most effective handwriting experience?

To encourage your students in their handwriting journeys, you need to provide pencils that are attractive, inviting and ergonomically designed for a comfortable, relaxed grip. Make sure kids are equipped with pencil barrels and leads that are age-appropriate – little ones, for example, do best with soft leads and large, easy-to-hold barrels that encourage correct gripping techniques. When a student uses a pencil, it should be break-resistant yet easy to sharpen, and when finished with, effortlessly stored and readily accessible for future use. In short, a top-quality pencil is paramount for achieving an enriching handwriting experience.

Did you know?

Faber-Castell offers a variety of ergonomic writing instruments in a range of different shapes and sizes to suit any young writer. From Jumbo Grip to Junior Triangular, each of our carefully crafted graphite pencils feature a comfy, easy-to-hold barrel and a soft, rich lead.

How critical are bright colours for improving visual perception?

The most important benefit of bright, eye-catching colours is excitement – kids look at the colour spectrum of pencils in a box and are inspired and motivated to create. Coloured pencils are also very useful in helping kids learn to read and write, as they can be used to differentiate syllables, letters or other parts of words, such as prefixes or suffixes.

Did you know?

Sustainable decisions, even small ones, make a huge impact over time. Our own forests absorb more CO2 than we emit, making Faber-Castell the first 100% carbon-neutral production company in the global stationery industry. To contribute to a more sustainable future in your classroom, choose Faber-Castell.

Why is it important for children to develop the right pencil grip, and what features should a pencil have to encourage this?

For a successful, stress-free writing journey, kids should learn correct posture and appropriate grip techniques from early childhood. Any extra grip features - such as ergonomic triangular barrels or raised dots - are great for students struggling with their grip, but they should be subtle enough not to cause distractions. The best pencil for writing is age appropriate, ergonomically designed for a healthy and comfortable grip and effortlessly fuss-free to grasp and use.

Did you know?

Faber-Castell has developed a system of age-appropriate products for the entire journey of learning to write. These include Grasp & First Grip Erasable Crayons, Jumbo Colour Pencils and Grip Colour Pencils.

Do frequently breaking leads especially frustrate children?

The mark of a premium handwriting pencil is a strong, break-resistant lead that allows for tireless writing across an entire handwriting lesson. I have personally experienced the time-consuming frustration that comes from fragile, brittle leads. They are a constant source of annoyance for both kids and teachers like myself, as they break lesson flow and cause irritating distractions from the task at hand.

Our warmest thanks to Maxine for sharing her expertise during this interview – we hope her insights enrich the lives of teachers and students all across Australia.

If you’re looking to promote a positive learning experience in your classroom while contributing to a more sustainable future, our range of Faber-Castell creative learning materials have you covered. Each product has been specially crafted to inspire exploration, growth and self-expression in students, allowing them to create their unique mark on the world.

Check out our creative learning product range here!