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Complete-A-Sketch and Practical Drafting Review by Dr. Anne Margaret Wright

By Melvin Peterman

I remember the moment my husband and I made the final decision that we would homeschool our kids. We had been thinking, talking, and most importantly praying, about this decision for months. Shortly after our son, Josiah’s, third birthday in 1997 we attended a Christian Home Educator’s Association conference in Anaheim, California. We thought there would be maybe a hundred people there and that they would be far smarter and more organized than we were. After all, what did we know about teaching our young son to read or do math? Imagine our surprise as we walked into the Disneyland Hotel, a huge hotel and convention center, and saw over 5,000 completely normal people. We looked at each other and both said, “These people are just like us. Maybe we can do this!” Then our next concern was about curriculum – how do we find books and materials to use? Well, after a couple of wonderful workshops, we went to the book fair in a conference room that had hundreds of booths with thousands and thousands of products from which to choose. We just wandered around in a daze for a while overwhelmed by how much curriculum was available. Every conceivable topic was covered, usually by many different companies with many different types of materials, and was written by ordinary parents, homeschool groups, and large publishing companies. We have been homeschooling ever since!

The Complete-A-Sketch series and the Practical Drafting Applied Engineering Graphics Workbook (, written by Melvin G. Peterman, are just the kind of materials we were so impressed with that day and since then. No, we weren’t wandering around looking for materials to teach our then-3-year-old son how to draw 3-D technical drawings of buildings, trains, and nuts and bolts. But this is a great example of how extensive the list of available curriculum has become for homeschoolers. The author, Melvin Peterman, has worked as a mechanical designer in a variety of settings including high tech, construction, nuclear and factories. As with so many great homeschooling products, Mr. Peterman created this series to “teach my children to draw what they see.” Now he has shared these same great lessons with anyone who wants to learn technical drawing. The course teaches by example and utilizes self-directed learning, so kids can learn these skills on their own. I like this approach because I’m not talented in drawing, but both of my sons love to draw. Josiah (now 8) went crazy over working through the assignments, and saw quite an improvement in his ability to draw what he sees. We will probably pull the books out once a year or so and let him keep working on creating better depth and accuracy to his drawings.

The Complete-A-Sketch books ($8.00 each) introduce technical drawing through three volumes: Volume I – Orthographic, Volume II – Isometric, and Volume III – Perspective. Each book is short, containing about 20 to 30 lessons, and could be completed in a couple of weeks. The lessons provide an illustration of the object to be drawn in the corner, and then partial lines for the student to use as guidelines. After practicing with the partial lines, the student practices the drawing on blank paper until he/she has mastered the skills. The Practical Drafting Applied Engineering Graphics Workbook ($36.00) continues the process, but with more in-depth practice. It goes through the various shapes used in technical drawing, the tools used, how to add perspective, electrical schematics, surface texture, dimensions, etc. The workbooks can all be copied as much as needed for home use, so you can practice over and over, or share the book with more than one child. If you want just an introduction to this topic, the three Complete-A-Sketch books would probably be just right. However, if you want something that is very in-depth with much practice and technical information, the Practical Drafting Applied Engineering Graphics Workbook is your best bet. This series is also an excellent introduction to the techniques and skills needed to use CAD programs for computer-generated technical drawings. My only complaint is that I found some of the definitions and descriptions a bit difficult to understand, but I’m a total novice in this area. I think anyone with an interest in technical drawing would find this series an outstanding introduction to a complicated field!

--Product review by: Dr. Anne Margaret Wright, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC