One cold day in Upper Michigan I was drawing a picture for the children’s book “Nothing to Do.” It was 2004 and, as only Michigan can do it, was the quietest weather imaginable. It can snow and snow and snow and in the blink of an eye it’s a full blown weather event. The moving event for me however was what was said on NPR. Scientists were now giving early onset Alzheimer patients knitting needles and teaching them to knit. By keeping their fingers active and both hands active, neurologists were seeing a connection between the health of the brain and activity of the individual’s hands and fingers working together for a more positive outcome.
My life was about to change because of a question I asked myself: “Would healthy, high functioning fingers and hands help in the development of a child’s brain?” That question has captured my curiosity for decades. My work as a children’s book author/illustrator took me into school gymnasiums filled with as many as 250 children in school assemblies. My presentations were always Hands On. Students brought pencils, paper and crayons into the gym. After 25 years of observing thousands of children I learned: 1. Children loved learning how to draw. 2. Special Ed teachers often came up to me after a session and say they could not believe how well their students did and how I held their attention for a full 70 minutes. 3. Kindergarten students could sit for the 70 minutes while being fully engaged. 4. There was an epidemic of poor pencil grips in all demographics 5. Demographics did not matter as all students could learn to draw. It seemed to be a natural equalizer. 6. “You could hear a pin drop” was the general response from educators in the room.
That question ignited 13 consecutive years of weekly drawing with students in pre K through 2nd grade in various school districts and demographics. I asked myself: Could drawing improve a student’s educational journey and effort? What does high fine motor skills look like in young people? Are boys as capable as girls in the fine motor area? YES they are I noticed when we developed them through subject matters they are interested in, for example bulldozers and rockets. What do teachers need to fit drawing into existing curriculum?
The results are everywhere on this website because you can see great handwriting, amazing drawings both from direct instruction and independent work. We stand firmly behind our effectiveness based on our assessments of students with both HANDS ON, especially after 3 years of our curriculum as we create the magic that connects children to their own possibilities.