Crayons are one of the great classic toys. Invented in 1903, they have captured children's interest for over a century. Crayons offer imaginative play (children can create any type of drawing on paper) and also build small motor skills. Toddlers practice grasping with large crayons, and preschoolers practice more precise movements when they try to color between the lines.
Binney & Smith made the first Crayola crayons in Easton, PA; there are other brands of crayons, but these are still the gold standard.
Practicing the Grasp
Grasp a crayon the same way that you hold a pencil, with the thumb and forefinger. The crayon should rest on your third finger. Younger kids often hold crayons in a fist grasp, which is easier to manipulate; they don't have as much control over where the crayon is going but it is developmentally appropriate.
Choose what you are going to color. With a coloring book, this is easy since the drawings are already there. You can also make your own drawings to color in; a Sharpie is useful because it makes thick, defined lines.
You can also find free coloring pages online that you can print out.
Do not press too hard with the crayon or the tip will snap. If you break the crayon, peel away the paper covering and sharpen; some crayon boxes come with a built-in sharpener.
Do not stress if your child cannot color within the lines, or colors one section and declares himself "done." This is his imaginative expression.
Write the child's name and the date of his drawing on the back of the page and post it on your refrigerator. Kids can also be encouraged to use the crayon to write their name.