Habits of Heart and Mind (and a Playful Learning Giveaway, too!)

Hello readers!  I”m so excited about today”s post! Simple Kids contributor Mariah Bruehl has written an amazing book called .  I have been reading my copy and making notes likes crazy, getting so many new ideas and inspiration from her. I”ll admit that I”m a little biased because I think quite highly of Mariah, but I truly think this is one of those books that belongs on every parent”s bookshelf.

Mariah is also the genius behind the website and and the e-course . She”s got a fun post and a terrific giveaway for you today. Thanks Mariah! – Kara

This giveaway is now closed.  The winner will be announced on Tuesday, August 30th.  Thanks!

Now that the book has made its way out into the world, many people have asked me what my goal was in writing the book. I must say, that is a hard question to answer, but if I had to choose one thing that I hope to accomplish, it is that children and families co-create habits of heart and mind.

Yes, it is important that children memorize their addition and multiplication facts and become proficient in important skills and drills. Yet, if they are not developed within a larger context of intellectual character then we are missing the mark.

Having written the book roughly two years ago, I have had the benefit of seeing how many of the learning experiences have had an impact on my daughters over time. Not only in the development of their skills, but also in their disposition towards fully utilizing and expressing their new-found abilities.

Thank You Notes

Simple projects like making handmade thank you notes can become a part of your family culture. You can start out when your children are very young by using stamps, stickers and simply having them sign their names.

As they get older they will be able to write complete messages. While concrete skills such as proper letter formation and spelling are being solidified, they are internalizing a bigger and more important lesson about writing—that it is a medium that can be used to reach out and touch the people who are important to them.

Blank Books to Inspire Writing

Keeping blank books out and accessible for budding authors is a great way to inspire spontaneous writing. As you acquire a large collection of your child”s writing, it is fun to see the development of both skills and self-expression over time.

You can start out with the youngest writers by encouraging picture drawing and writing down their words for them. As children grow older and have learned to incorporate writing into their daily routines, they will begin to utilize the same blank books in many different ways and for a variety of purposes.

While they will learn important skills like the fact that writing conveys a consistent message and that sentences start on the left side of the page and move towards the right (directionality), they will be experiencing first hand something even bigger—that writing is a powerful and effective means for sharing thoughts, recording ideas and expressing yourself to the world at large.


The family tradition of creating yearly self-portraits gives children the opportunity develop observational skills and learn about line, color and composition when it comes to creating art.

Yet the self-reflection involved and the meta-cognition that is developed when children observe and document their own development over time allows them to gain insight into themselves. They learn to embrace the parts of them that remain true over time as well as their ever-evolving interests and characteristics.

Four Big Picture Goals

Although there are many important things that children can learn from a variety of learning experiences, it is helpful to keep in mind four big picture goals:

  1. The strengthening of your relationship to your children
  2. The ability to sustain focus on any given activity or subject for longer and longer periods of time
  3. The development of long-term understanding
  4. To practice and encourage a positive disposition towards learning

The facts, figures, and specific skills will all follow from meaningful experiences in which children are able to act on their curiosity, reflect on their growth and development over time and creatively express themselves and their ideas.

These are the habits of heart and mind that will serve our children well for years to come.

The Giveaway

Mariah is offering a chance for one winner to win a copy of her book and a space in the , which starts Wednesday, September 14.

To enter leave a comment below.

This giveaway will be open until Midnight EST Sunday August 28, 2011. This giveaway is now closed.  Thank you!

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  1. just lovely! thank you for this opportunity.
    kort´s latest post: knock knock

  2. this book looks incredible. I’d love to dig into it!

  3. Sounds great! My kids are young, but I’m already looking for ideas for guiding them from now to …. college? beyond?

  4. The book sounds wonderful – even your post today is so inspiring!

  5. I would like to win this!

  6. Looks like a fabulous book that we could use with our little ones.

  7. Stephanie says:

    The book sounds really neat. I’d love to get to read it.

  8. This looks amazing!

  9. love the idea of this book…want it on my nightstand for inspiration!
    healing hillary´s latest post: true for me today

  10. I would love to do the e course!

  11. I can’t wait to read the new book!

  12. This sounds like an amazing resource! Thanks!
    Pamela´s latest post: she’s three

  13. Kristy Forthun says:

    I am excited to read this book.

  14. Love her site, so I’m excited about the book.

  15. Can’t wait to read this!

  16. Would love to read this book. Thanks for the chance to win!!

  17. Oooh, I have this book on my amazon wishlist… I would love to win this!

  18. What a wonderful giveaway! I would love to win a place in her e-course. And a chance to browse through her book. It looks wonderful.

  19. How fun and what a great way to spend time with the kids 🙂

  20. I´d love to have this book in my hands!! Thanks for the post, very inspiring.

  21. I would be very excited to learn more.


  1. […] You”ve got until midnight EST tonight to enter the Playful Learning book and e-course giveaway […]