We have the same massive amount of half-used crayons that everybody else does, only our crayons used to be completely neglected. Sure, when the girls had something giant to color they’d occasionally reach for the crayon bin, but I’d say that 99.9% of the time it was markers or colored pencils that they used.
Finally, I figured out the problem, which you probably already knew: my girls didn’t want to draw with a blunt crayon. A crayon that’s been used for longer than 30 seconds is dull enough that you can’t do anything nice with it (my children claim), whereas markers and colored pencils have pleasingly pointed tips for all kinds of intricate doodles and writing and flower-coloring.
Yes, I do have a couple of the super-sized Crayola crayon boxes with that plastic sharpener in the back, that plastic sharpener that sucks and then breaks, but honestly, I save the two nice 64-color boxes for special occasions. I needed a sturdy, durable, preferably non-plastic crayon sharpener that I could whip out to freshen up our easily ten-pound bin of half-used crayons, ideally a sharpener that the girls could use themselves.
Digging around one of those fancy-pants natural toy sites looking for kite paper (the subject of a future post!), I did find a German-made wooden crayon sharpener, on sale for somewhat less than my mortgage payment. Figuring that the Germans make good knives, at least, I ponied up for the Lyra Pro Natura Barrel Crayon Sharpener, and here’s how we like it:
First of all, I’m very pleased with the construction of the Lyra crayon sharpener. I try to avoid plastic because it’s eco-unfriendly, but I also avoid it because it tends to be less sturdy. The plastic in a traditional crayon sharpener will flex outwards with the pressure of your hand, so it doesn’t sharpen your crayon as well. This crayon sharpener, however, is chunky and wooden and easy for my five-year-old to grip. It does have a metal blade, however–as my kiddos will solemnly intone to you, a sharpener is a tool, not a toy.
Mostly, however, I’m happy with how well this crayon sharpener works. My little girls peel a crayon down an inch or so, pop it into the barrel, and turn. A few turns leads to a mildly sharpened crayon, good for coloring with firm pressure. A few more turns leads to a crayon with a perfect point, excellent for writing with gentler pressure. The kiddos love it, and now sharpen crayons daily, and then spend some time coloring with their newly sharpened crayons, which is what I’d hoped to see.
Although you can use the Lyra crayon sharpener alone, it comes with a cardboard tube to catch the crayon shavings. If you’ve never made crayon shaving window catchers before, then stay tuned, because we’re saving up our crayon shavings just for that future project.
[I did NOT receive free product for this review. I purchased the Lyra crayon sharpener with my own hard-earned money, which is why I'm so happy that I like it.]