|"Sun and Shade" pastel, 9x12|
So I try as much as possible to use the same supplies that they'll probably use on their first day. My "day 1" exercise: working from a black & white photo. This helps diminish the frustration of trying to match exact colors in a reference photo, and focus on seeing the color pastel sticks in terms of values.
*I should add that I do encourage my new students to gradually try the better pastels and surfaces, since for some artists, the better quality materials can make all the difference with whether they like the medium or not.