Much More Than "Pretty Writing"

"Don't worry, he will write on a computer."

Children with poor motor-skills need training in handwriting and should not be told to simply forgo the pencil and use a computer to write.

A bright teen came to me for help. He wrote only on the computer and found that there were times when it was necessary to write by hand. His lack of handwriting experience hindered him with illegible and slow writing, but more significantly, he had problems composing without a computer. He was unable to mentally outline an essay—he had always used cut and paste to organize his thoughts.

Poor motor-skills can improve with age and practice. As a young child, this teen should have received help with his fine-motor and gross-motor development, and the standard of perfect penmanship should have been loosened. His caring parents would have helped him, but they were told, "Don't worry, he will write with a computer." As it was, this bright and motivated young man saw the need to catch up and simply worked on it himself. For some, an occupational therapist trained to work with handwriting can make the difference.

The computer is a fine tool for writing, but not when it keeps us from exercising our brains. Handwriting practice that leads to a legible script is a terribly important skill for growing minds. It is a necessary skill that should not be taken lightly.


Drawing instruction is not only for

the artistically talented child.


Handwriting instruction is not only for

the child with a flair for penmanship.


Handwriting is an Art!

Speech, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary—the parts and pieces of Language Arts. They fall into the categories of creativity and craftsmanship:

  • Creative—stories, poetry, vocabulary
  • Craft—reporting, instructions, handwriting, spelling

Handwriting is fundamental.

Handwriting is a craft.

Handwriting is an Art!

Our Books: Draw Write Now

Draw Write Now was created for the primary grades, ages five to nine. The lessons are used in preschools, multi-age classes, homeschools and upper elementary classes. Four year-olds and 12 year-olds enjoy doing the lessons together. They have received numerous awards.

Draw Write Now books are NOT workbooks. The series becomes a part of your home or classroom library, to be used many times. Children draw and write on their own paper or may draw and write in the Draw Write Now Workbook (a blank book.)

The Draw Write Now books are numbered 1 through 8, but may be used in any order. The numbers—Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, etc.—do NOT relate to grade level. Draw Write Now, Book 1 has the easiest lessons. If a child is confident with their drawing skills, they may start in any of the books. 

Download the Swan Lesson from Draw Write Now, Book 1 and the Heron Lesson from Book 6.

Both lessons are similar, but the Heron Lesson includes more details. The lessons in Book 1 are lessons Marie used with her students at the beginning of the school year and Book 8 are lessons she gave at the end of the school year.  (pdf, 5.1 MB) 

Here are two lists you might find helpful:

  • A list of the lessons in each of the Draw Write Now books (pdf 49 KB)
  • list of the Common Core State Standards as they relate to Draw Write Now (pdf 348 KB)

Marie's Pumpkin Pie Recipe

I wrote this scritch-scratchy thing while Marie and Anne made the pies, way back in 1976. The typed recipe shown below is a cleaned-up version of this, using the Libby’s recipe for reference. Why the lower temps? Marie’s oven ran hot.My mom made the best Pumpkin Pie. Try it. You’ll see!


My youngest sister, Julie, is traveling across the country this week to visit our other sister, Anne. Julie’s only request for Thanksgiving dinner is Mom’s Pumpkin Pie. Anne hasn’t made the pie for quite some time, so she came to me, hoping I knew the recipe.

Marie used the Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe—the one on the pumpkin can. She added this and that to it. “All I do is add extra eggs and milk, so it’s like a custard.” I’ve made the pies regularly over the years, but I couldn’t assure Anne that my pies were the same as Mom’s. So, she ventured into her creepy attic to find the handwritten recipe that I wrote down when we were much, much younger. Whoa! So brave, and now we’ll share it with you—Marie’s pie recipe… with measurements!

Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Marie’s Pumpkin Pie

Printable Version (84k, pdf)

(Makes 2 pies, 16 servings)

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves (optional) 
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 can (29 oz.) Libby’s Solid Pack Pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk 
  • 1-3/4 cups whole milk or 2% milk
  • 2 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shells


In a small bowl, mix the sugars and spices—the first six ingredients.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs.

Combine and stir the pumpkin, sugar-spice mixture, and eggs in the large bowl. Gradually stir in the evaporated milk and milk.

Pour into the pie shells. (You will have extra. Marie usually made another little pie. I pour the mixture into custard cups.)

Bake in preheated 425°F. oven for 15 minutes.

Reduce the temperature to 350°F., and bake 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Posted by Kim Stitzer.

Starting With a Sketch

Marie Hablitzel started working on Draw-Write-Now, Book 1 in 1992. Barker Creek Publishing was a start-up business and Draw-Write-Now was to be it’s first product. Carolyn Hurst, the owner of Barker Creek and editor of the books, invited Marie to attend meetings with the designer and production people, and since I was Marie’s daughter and Carolyn’s friend, I got to go along. The cover was designed early in the process and four sketches were presented—the farm-scene design was selected.

Marie already had a long list of drawings to complete, so Judy Richardson, the book designer, was given the assignment to draw the cover. Judy presented cover artwork, but Carolyn wasn’t happy with the results—Judy’s drawing style was not like Marie’s. Carolyn and Judy decided to scrap the design and to ask Marie to draw the second-choice design, when I meekly said, “I think I can draw it.” They looked at each other, then turned to me and said, “Okay, do it!” Well, I did it, and my art was used on the cover.

I kept going to meetings and helping Marie in any way I could. At some point before Draw-Write-Now, Book 1 went to press, Carolyn asked Marie to make me her coauthor. Initially, I was hesitant—after all, the lessons came from Marie’s creativity, experience and hard work—but, Carolyn used good business sense. I was able to help with the promotion and production of the book series, plus I knew and understood Marie’s teaching and artistic style like no one else.

Throughout the series, Marie created the lesson drawings, while I did the cover drawings, helped with illustrations and worked on text. Judy continued to oversee the designs elements. Carolyn edited the books and formatted the books, along with the help of several amazing production artists who embraced the 1990’s computer technology. In the end, I think we all realized that the collaboration was perfect!

—Kim Stitzer

UPDATE: May 2014

After 20 years of publishing the Draw-Write-Now series, Barker Creek sold the series to Rainbow Resource Center, Inc. We look forward to working with the Rainbow Resource team!

Draw Write Now, Book 1 front cover sketch and finished cover.

The original cover sketch of Draw Write Now, Book 1 is shown here, next to the finished cover. The sketches shown below were presented as possible covers for Book 1

Draw Write Now cover sketch.
Other Draw Write Now cover sketches.

Swan Lesson, Draw-Write-Now 1

Draw Your World: Swan Drawing Lesson from Draw-Write-Now, Book 1.

Draw Your World: Swan Drawing Lesson from Draw-Write-Now, Book 1.

The lessons are simple and clean. This is how the swan lessons appears in Draw-Write-Now, Book 1. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE 


Our lessons are flexible and simple. Keep it easy—pick up a lesson and draw! All that is needed is a pencil, eraser, paper and crayons (or a coloring medium of your choice.)

1.) Introduce the Subject

Garner interest in wild or domestic swans with a story, discussion, poem, photos or a song. 

2.) Draw the Subject

Using a pencil, encourage the children to draw the swan lightly, because some lines will be erased (see Step 3.) Use the step-by-step instructions—the red lines—to draw the subject. Throughout the building of the swan, refer to the color drawing, pointing out the shapes and lines.

3.) Draw the Background

Still working in pencil, encourage the children to create their own background for the drawing. If they want to copy what they see in the sample color drawing, that's fine. With time and a little encouragement, their own creativity will take hold.

4.) Practice Writing

See Drawing and Writing Together. Scroll down the list and find where your child fits. Is your child just learning to write letters? Are they able to write, but don't like to practice? Do they need to work on forming paragraphs? Children of varying ages and skill levels can work together during drawing time, and at their own pace during writing time.

5.) Color the Picture

This is the fun time! The child colors their creation. You may notice that the drawings shown in our Gallery are outlined in black. Introduce outlining and see how it helps preserve the details the child has so carefully drawn in pencil. It also makes colors pop!

Practice writing sentences, learning to write letters, or crafting a paragraph.

Practice writing sentences, learning to write letters, or crafting a paragraph.


Drawing and Writing Together

Tyler, age 5 — This drawing illustrates an event. Tyler can expand on the story with his voice or with written words.

Tyler, age 5 — This drawing illustrates an event. Tyler can expand on the story with his voice or with written words.


Nurture a love of writing.

Teach children to write by simply talking and writing with them about their drawing. Drawing motivates a child to practice pencil-skills that are needed for writing. Here's how we do it:


Visual and Verbal


Ask the child to tell you about their drawing. Prompt them with questions, such as, "Who is throwing the ball?" "Who is the boy with the bat?" "The fence looks familiar—where is he playing?" 

The "Boy" lesson is in Draw Write Now, Book 1.

The "Boy" lesson is in Draw Write Now, Book 1.

Some children rarely speak, while others may be very vocal. Talking about a drawing can help both. The quiet child's drawing may become the foundation for a conversation. The talkative child's drawing can be used to help guide and focus their verbal skills.


Making the Connection

Demonstrate that the letters people make on paper are the words we speak. Sitting beside the child, ask them to TELL you about their drawing. As they tell you, WRITE their words down, then READ their words back to them, pointing to the words as you read. 

Show the child how to write their name.

If you are unsure how to form the letters, refer to our instruction on handwriting styles.


Introduce Letters

As the child shares their drawing, show them how to make and pronounce the first letter of the subjects in the drawing. So, if they have drawn a bird, write the letter "b" while pronouncing the letter.  You might even add "fl" for "flying." (Include blended letters, like “th”, "br" "wh".)

LOWERCASE LETTERS: Demonstrate using lowercase letters, rather than capital. Most of our writing is lowercase.

Plain paper is fine—there is no need to use guideline paper at this stage.


Introduce Words

When the child shows you their drawing, choose a word and show them how to correctly form and pronounce each letter in a word. "Here's how to write the word "ball"—b-a-l-l." 


SPACING OF LETTERS: Explain that letters in a word are grouped together without spaces. The letters are written side-by-side to form the word.

Plain paper without lines is fine.


Introduce Sentences

"It's not hard to show a child how to form letters, the challenge is motivating them to practice."

After drawing a picture, demonstrate how to write a short sentence, such as “We like to play ball.” Highlight the basic parts of a sentence:

  • The first letter of the first word in a sentence is a capital letter.
  • Spaces separate words.
  • A period is at the end of the sentence.

SPACES BETWEEN WORDS:  Explain that words are separated by spaces.

Introduce guideline or lined paper.

More Sentences

Copy Work, Practice

Matthew, age 7 Drawing makes handwriting practice fun!

Matthew, age 7
Drawing makes handwriting practice fun!

Tiger Lesson is in Draw Write Now, Book 7

Tiger Lesson is in Draw Write Now, Book 7

Practice writing two to four short sentences. The sentences can be about their drawing or can be a memory verse. The sentences should be simple to copy.

Draw Write Now lessons have four short sentences. The sentences may be changed, but keep the sentences short and simple. This practice time is for developing handwriting skills, not vocabulary, composition or spelling.

Have the child critique their work.

  • Ask them to choose their best letters or words.
  • Point out things they can improve.

There's no need to erase and do over, it is simply a time to become aware for the next time they practice.

Matthew, age 7

Matthew, age 7

Is the child reluctant to practice writing? Work for success, but push them a bit. If you know they can write one sentence, have them write two short sentences. Lesson to lesson, increase the amount of writing.

Use the coloring time as an incentive — remind them that you’ll bring out the crayons (or color pencils, watercolors, etc.) after the sentences are finished.


Telling a Story


Encourage the child to write about their drawing. Oftentimes, their background drawing will prompt them to write. 

Since the focus is composition, this is not a time to stress careful handwriting! It is not spelling or vocabulary-time. Let them write. Let them get their ideas down on paper.

Does the child love to write, but spelling or grammar needs some refining? After writing and reading their story, help them select a few sentences.  Correct any spelling or grammar errors in those sentences.

EXTRA: Have the child copy a few corrected sentences onto a fresh sheet of paper using their best handwriting. 

Grammar or Spelling


GRAMMAR: Ask the child to write all the nouns in their drawing (boy, bird, fence, grass, ball.)

Another time, have the child write all the verbs (fly, hit, swing, stand, look, throw) or all the adjectives (fast, sunny, happy, green.)

SPELLING: Words that are spelled incorrectly can be added to a spelling list to practice later.



Have the child write a paragraph about the subject in their drawing.

  • Introduce the subject. (The boy loves playing baseball.)
  • Write several sentences to support the introductory sentence. (The first pitch was thrown. He swung and the ball went far into the outfield. He ran so fast around the bases.)
  • Write a closing sentence restating the first sentence. (He wants to play baseball every day of his life.)

WRITING PROMPTS: A mother shared that she brings out the Draw Write Now set of books, announce the theme, such as “Springtime." Her three boys flip through the books, each choosing a drawing that makes them think of Spring—a rabbit, a bird and a boat. Their finished drawing becomes their prompt for writing a paragraph on Spring.

It is fun to draw and write with a child.