My kids can often be found at the breakfast table designing elaborate maps, making diagrams of their inventions, doodling, drawing fairies + mandalas, and illustrating stories in stapled books. Once your child can grasp a pencil and make marks without breaking the tip, they are ready for colored pencils.
Drawing with colored pencils develops fine motor skills, creativity, color selection, patterning and color combination. Quality colored pencils and a few wirebound pads of paper and good quality detailed coloring books make great holiday or birthday presents. For detailed coloring in coloring books, as well as free hand drawing, you will need a decent number of colored pencils. To allow your child to really explore this medium, get a good set with at least 36 colors.
TOP PICKS: COLORED PENCILS + PAPER PADS
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils. Our favorite - great quality, vivid color, reasonably priced. A set of 36-48 colors is a great starting point. When we travel, we put the pencils in a plastic food box (i.e. Glad disposables) to keep the tips nice en route and bring along a little mini sharpener.
Strathmore 300 or 400 Series Drawing Pads. For freehand drawing with colored pencils, you and your kids can use multi-purpose printer paper, card stock, bristol paper, sketch paper or drawing paper. Be sure to get paper which is smooth rather than watercolor paper which has some texture and would result in less precise line work.