A New Gripper - The Thumb Grip


We have a new gripper in our store, called The Pincher Grip...BUT, I dislike associating the word "pinch" when holding a pencil, so I'm choosing to call it The Thumb Grip. 

The Thumb Grip (my name) or The Pincher Grip (it's real name)

The Thumb Grip (my name) or The Pincher Grip (it's real name)

Grip Starter Set

Grip Starter Set

This gripper is similar to the Crossover Grip, but does not have the "hood". I think it does a good job of discouraging the crossing over of the thumb and is more accommodating for children with long fingernails. It just might replace the Crossover Grip, at least that's what I'm finding. The manufacturer sees it as a transition from the Crossover Grip  >  Pinch Grip  >  Pencil Grip. I believe that children can go from Pinch Grip (Thumb Grip) to no gripper.

Our popular Grip Starter Set now comes with a Thumb Grip. (We replaced the Crossover Grip with the Thumb Grip.)

The Crossover Grip

The Crossover Grip

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!

Marie's Story


My mother, Marie Hablitzel, was a second grade school teacher. Her students remember starting each school day with a drawing lesson. After she retired, we coauthored the Draw Write Now series. 

Bob and Marie


Marie enjoyed three-mile walks up until a few weeks before her death in 2007 at the age of 86. I was blessed to have the opportunity to work with her and am honored to continue her work.

— Kim Stitzer


List of Draw-Write-Now Lessons

 A List of the Drawings

I just love your Draw Write Now books! I have the eight-book boxed set and have been enjoying them every week with my four and five year-olds. I am trying to incorporate the lessons with my social studies/history plans; it is working wonderfully! My question: is there a full list of the drawings in all eight books?  I am finding myself, for example, hoping there is an owl and needing to search the Table of Contents of all eight books to find what I need.


Yes, Donna!
Here's the list:
pdf download (49kb)

Another option is to use the search box. For example, insert “owl” in the search box and the result shown is “Draw Write Now, Book 2.”

Note: The search box is found on the footer of each page of this website.

List: The lessons in each of the eight Draw Write Now books (49 KB)

List: The lessons in each of the eight Draw Write Now books (49 KB)

PlayPack: Fine Motor Focus

Fine Motor Development, see CurriculumChoice.

Fine Motor Development, see CurriculumChoice.


Reviewed by Curriculum Choice

Betsy’s review at curriculumchoice.com of PlayPack: Fine Motor Focus.

PlayPack: Fine Motor Focus

PlayPack: Fine Motor Focus

Regular activities such as cutting, drawing, finger paining, lego building, playing jacks, and play dough are all great activities to develop the finger muscles. But what do you do when your child balks when presented with small muscle play? Here are three more ideas to try, from PlayPack: Fine Motor Focus:

  1. Pizza Party
  2. Fun with Shapes
  3. Hand Art

Find PlayPacks in our store.
See Betsy’s full review and helpful tips at CurriculumChoice.

Source: http://www.thecurriculumchoice.com/2013/07...

Think Like an Editor

The role of editor is explained in this new CommonCraft video. Many websites operate without an editor, so it’s important for each of us to…Think Like an Editor

As an author, I appreciate the guidance of a good editor. Children ask me how I feel when my editor asks me to change something or questions my work. I let them know: 

  • The editor’s comments might nudge me in a new creative direction.
  • Sometimes the editor notices something I haven’t. Even when I have put a lot of effort into my work, I sometimes overlook a simple error.
  • Getting the editor’s opinion gives me an understanding of other people’s standards and actually strengthens my own standards.

I encourage children to think of their teachers as editors. A good, objective editor (or teacher) helps us improve.

Source: http://www.commoncraft.com

Win a $50 e-Gift Card

Rose, 7 years-old, Grace-Filled Homeschooling

Rose, 7 years-old, Grace-Filled Homeschooling

Review by Grace-Filled Homeschooling (and a giveaway!)

Grace-Filled Homeschooling
Grace-Filled Homeschooling

Melissa and her girls, Rose and Beth, were recently introduced to the Draw Write Now lessons. Hear how they enjoyed drawing together, tried out pencil grips, and neatly worked on their writing.

I loved Melissa’s comment that 5 year-old Beth “…was incredibly focused on neatness and proportion of her letters for the first time.” I hear that from parents a lot.

Don’t forget to sign up for a chance to win the $50 e-Gift Card!

Source: http://gracefilledhomeschooling.blogspot.c...

Spanish—The Tripod Grip


Hold the Pencil in the Tripod Grip

Kathy Pedroza teaches Spanish at a dual-language program and translated our “Tripod Grip” illustration. “This has been so helpful, especially in my Spanish dual-immersion class.”

She shows it to her students’ parents, includes it with a letter chart in her kindergarten homework envelope, and refers to it during her 1st-quarter progress report.

For more information on developing the tripod grasp, see Hold the Pencil and the Hold the Pencil Pamphlet.

Hold the Pencil in the Tripod Grip: DrawYourWorld
Hold the Pencil in the Tripod Grip: DrawYourWorld

Handwriting and Self-Assessment

Handwriting practice improves with assessment. drawyourworld.com
Handwriting practice improves with assessment. drawyourworld.com
Handwriting practice improves with assessment. drawyourworld.com
Handwriting practice improves with assessment. drawyourworld.com

Self-Assessment of handwriting work. montessoritidbits.com See montessoritidbits.com for Leann’s tips onImproving Handwriting with Draw Write Now.

Leann presents the lessons in three parts in her homeschool:

The Warm-up—review notes from the prior day and work on letters needing help.

Drawing and Writing—30 minutes of drawing and writing.

Self-Assessment—look over the writing and noting the best work and the things that can be improved.

In the classroom, the warm-up and assessment process is just as important. Handwriting improves when the teacher checks over the students’ drawings and writing, noting issues and adjusting the next day’s lesson.

My mom, Marie Hablitzel, had over 30 students in her classes, making it difficult for one-on-one time for self-assessments. The assessments were made, though—she carefully reviewed each of her students’ drawing and writing papers after class and adjusted the next day’s lesson or found time to work with students needing individual attention.

Assessment is a huge part of improving handwriting. 

Handwriting and drawing using Draw Write Now. montessoritidbits.com

Source: http://handsonhomeschooler.com/2013/02/imp...

Art Appreciation

Proverbs 3: 5-6 Trust in the Lord

Proverbs 3: 5-6 Trust in the Lord

I love to look at artwork from my parents’ generation. This small picture is from the 1940’s or possibly earlier, I suppose. My sister, Anne, bought it at a garage sale years ago and she’s had it hanging in her house since then. I love it—hand-drawn, hand-lettered, such a beautiful style.


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)

Bridge Lesson: Draw Your World

Rachel, age 5

Rachel, age 5

Architectural structures in your community are excellent subjects for children to  draw. I live near the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State. In 2007, a new bridge was built alongside it. We watched the new bridge go up and learned about bridge engineering and construction, which of course, led to a drawing lesson. This lesson is NOT in a Draw Write Now book—the children and I were simply drawing our world!

Basic Bridge Construction

  • The basic parts of a suspension bridge: towers, main cables, anchorage, suspender cables, road deck.
  • Artistic styles influence engineers as they design a bridge.

Bridge History

University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections FAR165, used with permission 

University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections FAR165, used with permission 

Drawing Lesson: Suspension Bridge


Prepare the Paper

Paper clip or tape the tracing paper onto the tower template. (The template is removed in Step 6 and the white paper is taped to the back of the tracing paper. The drawing will be completed on the tracing paper.)


drawyourworld.com, Draw a Suspension Bridge, Tacoma Narrows

drawyourworld.com, Draw a Suspension Bridge, Tacoma Narrows

drawyourworld.com, Draw a Suspension Bridge, Tacoma Narrows

drawyourworld.com, Draw a Suspension Bridge, Tacoma Narrows

A Suspension Bridge Near You

Bridgemeister.com —See suspension bridges from your neighborhood and from around the world!

Bridgemeister.com —See suspension bridges from your neighborhood and from around the world!

Stephanie, age 10

Stephanie, age 10



Simple World Map: Draw-Write-Now 7

Draw a Simple World Map

Geography for Life: The National Geographic Standards, 1995, stressed the importance of children knowing how to draw a map of the world. It suggested using simple ovals for each continent. We loved the idea and created a lesson for Draw Write Now, Book 7. It is available here as a free download.

The Common Core State Standards recommends that students “use a mix of drawing, dictating and writing to compose explanatory texts.” Drawing a simple world map helps children develop their own mental map, always at the ready as they build an understanding of our world. It’s easy to see how drawing a simple map can add to the ability to use explanatory texts.
(2 page pdf, 674 KB)

50/50, Fiction/Nonfiction

Draw Your World
Draw Your World

 Newsletter | August 2012   .

50/50, Fiction/Nonfiction

Is nonfiction a significant part of your child’s reading material? The Common Core State Standards recommends that fifty percent of children’s reading text be fiction and fifty percent informational material, like science, social studies and history. Look for books that explain or are factual. Use written text to learn about the world.

Write Nonfiction

It’s one thing to write an imaginative story, it’s another thing to accurately describe and report. As with reading, the Common Core suggests that nonfiction and fiction writing skills be balanced. While drawing a polar bear, discuss the Arctic region and guide the children in drawing an appropriate Arctic background. The things included in their background drawing may serve as a prompt as they write about the bear’s environment.

Read and Discuss

Show that you enjoy reading nonfiction. Marie Hablitzel, the creator of the Draw Write Now lessons, kept a children’s encyclopedia close by while giving a lesson. When the opportunity arose, she read a paragraph or two aloud from the encyclopedia. Her interest in reading sparked the children’s interest and her thought-provoking questions nurtured their curiosity.


Drawing instruction improves vocabulary, because basic words are demonstrated during a drawing lesson. While teaching, simply describe a line or shape and describe their relationships to each other. You may not even realize that you are modeling these words: over, under, above, below, left, right, diagonal, curved, straight, horizontal, vertical, near, around, between, center, half, quarter, smaller, larger, short, long, zig-zag, choppy, smooth.

Read More

Read multiple books on the same topic. A variety of sources provides a broader understanding of the topic. Nonfiction books on the Arctic:One Small Square: Arctic Tundra by Donald Silver, Houses of Snow, Skin and Bones by Bonnie Shemie, Here is the Arctic Winter by M. Dunphy, Sunshine Makes the Seasons by Franklyn Bradley.

Polar bears live in the Arctic.

Thick fur keeps them warm.

They are strong swimmers.

They swim in the icy ocean.

Why do Arctic foxes follow polar bears?
Polar bears hunt seals, but eat only the fat of the seal. Arctic foxes follow the bears and feast on the leftover seal meat. See Alaska’s Three Bears, by Shelley Gill.


Common Core

Common Core State Standards provide a clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. Individual states are adopting the standards, see New York.

The Standards, ELA

(pdf, 340kb)

The English Language Arts Standards as they apply to Draw Write Now, from our publisher, Barker Creek.

Handwriting in the News

Computers and gadgets are great for children to experience, but remember to include handwriting instruction and regular practice in their day. Draw and write with your children—make it fun for both of you! This video was on our local news station last night:

A study is mentioned that found the following:

KING5 HealthLink, Good handwriting in children translates to good grades

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.

Connecting the Dots

I’m having a hard time focusing on my pile of work that MUST get done today. It appears I’m grieving the passing of Steve Jobs. So, maybe if I write a bit, I’ll get back on track.

I got my first Mac in 1994, right after our first book was published. I bought the thing the same week my husband was laid off from work. It was scary to put down so much money, but I knew I had to learn how to use the computer. The Mac was what our publisher used. Actually, it was the only computer with programs that worked for publishing. Besides that, Macs made sense to me… PC’s befuddled me. They still do. I’ve stayed with Apple all these years and, fortunately, always found a program that worked to cover shipping or whatever for the business.

This editorial by the Seattle Times was published on August 25 after Jobs resigned: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/editorials/2016015834_edit26stevejobs.html  Here’s what struck me: 

His story could not have been predicted or planned. The Mac’s proportionally spaced fonts helped create desktop publishing. To hear Jobs tell it, their reason for existence was that years before, he attended Reed College in Portland. He became bored with classes and dropped out — but he hung around campus to audit classes that fascinated him. One was calligraphy and typography. It was fascinating to him but completely useless — until it came time to design the Mac.

He called this story “connecting the dots,” but he said, “You cannot connect the dots looking forward.”

Some of the little things we do with children may seem “completely useless”. You never know… during a lifetime, one of those experiences may be just what is needed for connecting some dots. Using Steve Jobs as inspiration, take time to draw, write and learn with children. YOU might find it fascinating!

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.