Teach to the Tools

Scissors – First we start with pop up scissors with children 4 years old (or younger). WHY? Because with pop up scissors, that really cut, this is the first time the very important THUMB does a task aside from eating.

Paper – Cutting paper requires both hands too! Both hands on the paper when the children start writing, drawing or coloring is of critical importance. With both hands working, both sides of the brain are ignited!

Pencils – We only use Dixon Ticonderoga REGULAR size tri-write pencils and do not allow any other pencils in the classroom until the children all have the correct grip. They have the important 3 sides to facilitate the correct pincer grip, the lead is strong and eraser holds up. If you want the fingers and thumb to do the hard work of precision handwriting you NEED sharp pencils!  

Twistables – We start children with SHARPENED twistables so their eyes connect to a specific point as they color.

Triangular Crayons – We use triangle crayons in preschool. Everything in preschool is a triangle because that is the critical and easiest years to correct and start the habit of the correct pencil grip for a lifetime of educational success. 

64 Crayola Crayons-In my experience, It’s not long before most students have broken and lost the colors in a box of 24 crayons.DCIR has the unique ability to have kindergarten and up use 64 Crayola Brand crayons for a minimum of 3 consecutive years in some schools and even use these crayons through 8th grade in other schools. In kindergarten they start to learn the names of the colors and how to organize them according to their color families. We teach them to respect these materials and tape them back together if one should break. Crayons teach important pressure skills on top of the above mentioned organizational skills.  

Erasers – Erasing is a good thing. We want children to modify and make corrections to their work. I do not know how I would have ever survived art school or my every day drawing life without one.  As an artist, I have many, with different hardnesses, different sizes and different textures. They are the first thing to go with a pencil. We advocate the small pointed erasers to put on a pencil. Like sharp pencils we need sharp erasers. 

Rulers – The first year I did this experiment (DCIR) the highest fine motor skill student wrote me a thank you note “Thank you for teaching me the ruler!” Start with 6” and have 12” available for the fun of it. Again, BOTH HANDS /BOTH SIDES OF THE BRAIN WORKING TOGETHER! This tool allows for straight lines used to label and diagram our drawings.

Sharpeners – DISTRACTION and INTERRUPTION are the 2 words I think of when I think of the pencil sharpener in a classroom. The students that are frustrated constantly abuse the privilege. We advocate a sharpener in our Student Toolbox for 1st grade and up. A great sharpener that is easy to use and does the job every time. Students can be taught to monitor their own pencil without interrupting the entire class. 

The Compass & Ruler – The compass and the ruler are SUPER fun and VERY interesting once you learn how to use them. Geometry is numbers in space and constructing angles, diameters, radius’s and intersecting lines and angles is an introduction to the magical nature of both geometry and nature. Pythagorus would be proud of your students using them. 

Protractors – Many children have taught us that they love protractors, triangles, rulers and all those drafting supplies because the line goes just where they want it. We advocate for their use in DCIR pre school classrooms AND of course all grades through 8th. 

Mechanical Pencils – The reason we need advanced pressure skills is because mechanical pencils require a soft touch or the graphite will break. DCIR believes students should transition to mechanical pencils by mid year – 2nd grade. WHY? Because they are ALWAYS SHARP! Cursive is also taught by changing the pressure. The brand Pentel’s guarantee will replace any pencil that does not work so this supply will last a long time.

Cartridge Pen for Cursive – We believe cursive is what students need in the 21st Century. Research has proven note taking, BY HAND is superior for learning, over keyboarding notes in college lectures. (The Stanford and Princeton/ Oppenheimer Study)  DCIR advocates the cartridge pen again! We recommend the pen made by IAMY. The art supply store Dick Blick carries them.