I buy Red Oak stair tread from home improvement center. Can get 3 full board and the cut off piece I cut width wise in half and make specific names on for friends or shapes and numbers for them the practice. This way there is no scrap.
NOTE: Use a good hardwood. The weight keeps the board from moving when they are practicing, it will hold up against wear and the carve come out clean. Also eliminate chance of splinters.
Round the edges over on router table
Make cuts and then simply sand and oil.
I shape a 3/4" did dowel to work like a big pencil. Perfect size and weight for the little kids motor skills.