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. What interesting ideas! I would love to read the book. Thanks!
    Cynthia´s latest post: Weekend Reading

  2. I love these ideas. I’m going to have to get this book!

  3. Christie Sclafani says:

    I’ve been following your blog tour and every time I read your posts I’m more intreged by your ideas. That’s for the chance to win a copy.

  4. Love your “now” and “then” photos — it is amazing how you have kept track.
    Thanks for the chance to win!
    Liz´s latest post: This Moment: So Much Fun with Cousin Christen and Cuckoo Grandma (Happy Dog Too)

  5. Oh I have been following this book all over the web… it is full of brilliance!!! Lovely, lovely, lovely!!!
    se7en´s latest post: Sunday Snippet: The Bible Institute of South Africa…

  6. Thank you for sharing these great ideas! And thank you for the giveaway!

  7. Pick me! Pick me! Would love to read this book!

  8. great and simple ideas. thanks.
    sapir´s latest post: Diet for Life

  9. It sounds like a great book! Thanks for offering this giveaway.

  10. This book sounds wonderful. Its so important to think of those bigger picture goals.

  11. The book sounds awesome! I will have to pick it up if I don’t win 🙂
    Heather´s latest post: weekend

  12. I love it. My kids (ages 4 and 6) have always made their own thank you notes, and birthday party invitations, and they love to write/draw letters to send to people. The book sounds great. I’d love to read it. (in fact, I’m putting it on my Amazon wish list now too!)
    Tessa´s latest post: Happiness is…

  13. This looks great!
    Jess´s latest post: Friday Quick Takes, and why sleep is 1000x better than coffee

  14. Thank you for the giveaway! I have a 3 year old that would really benefit from this!

  15. So excited to read this!

  16. inspiring! thank you.

  17. Love these ideas. Excellent giveaway for the start of the school year!

  18. I would love to read this book as I try to simplify our family spaces.

  19. Wonderful tips and ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  20. So excited for a chance to win – thank you for the opportunity!!

  21. I love these ideas. We are already big card makers and story writers, so I’m excited to get more good ideas.

  22. I would love a copy of your book, Mariah! You are so inspirational.
    Kiasa´s latest post: Summer Streets 2011: The Trailer

  23. Love the then & now. I have started saving all but the most special artwork by photo. My daughter loves to go through a digital album of every project she’s ever done. And this way, I don’t have to find a place to store it all.

  24. Interesting! The one thing I loved from my daughter’s year in preschool was the contrast between year-beginning and year-ending self-portrait. Totally planning on keeping that up as we learn at home!

  25. please enter me thanks
    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com
    apple blossom´s latest post: Ransome’s Quest by Kaye Dacus

  26. I would love to win this. I am inspired to encourage my children towards creativity. Blessings!

  27. Wow, this is brilliant! Your ideas are geared not just at fostering the developing IQ, but also our little ones’ EQ as well! Can’t wait to get a copy!
    Helen @ Mommy Marginalia´s latest post: Friday Success: Muffin Tin Meals

  28. Love the annual self portrait idea.

  29. Hollister says:

    Thanks for sharing this giveaway. Im always looking for inspirational ideas to compliment our life-learning style. Sounds like This book would be a great platform for my family to jump off of this year!

  30. Great ideas! I’d love to read the book!

  31. What a neat book! I would love some new inspiring ideas! Thank you for this giveaway.

  32. Jenna Burns says:

    Even if I don’t win, I will go out and buy your book. This reminds me of my 3rd grade teacher.. her thought process.

  33. This book looks to have many fun ideas!

  34. We would love to read this book. Thank you!!

  35. What a wonderful giveaway. Would LOVE the book
    Allison Fambro´s latest post: Total Health Tuesday- General Update

  36. Love the ideas!
    Harmony´s latest post: Why I do what I Do

  37. This book is definitely on my reading list for the next few months. Would love to win a copy and a place on the e-course!

  38. Thanks for the opportunity to win something fun for that benefits the whole family!

  39. Jessie Adams says:

    Love it, would love to win the book, thanks!

  40. I’m very intrigued! Would love to learn more!
    Is this book still applicable if your children are a little older (my youngest is 7)?

  41. What a wonderful giveaway…I would love the chance to win this book and a spot in your e-course! And how fun to see the now and then pics 🙂
    Brittany´s latest post: Can I still call myself a blogger when I haven’t blogged anything in *ahem* weeks?

  42. I would love to explore this book with my children.

  43. We just began homeschooling this year (one 2nd grader & one 3 year old) & this book would be a perfect addition for us!

    Thank you for sharing your insights & encouragement to connect with our kids & develop a passion for learning/art.

    Jen´s latest post: More Fun than a Barrel of Monkeys

  44. great ideas!

  45. I love her blog and the great ideas for writing with your kids. Can’t wait to read the book.
    Rana´s latest post: Catching Up…

  46. I think my girls would love the activities in this book!

  47. I’d love to have this book!
    Ree´s latest post: Easy Roast Pork and Vegetables with Gravy—from Scratch

  48. I love your ideas. As an interest-led, relaxed homeschooler, I would love to read your book and add it to my collection! And, of course, pass the word along for you so that you can sell more! 🙂

    Many thanks and blessings.

  49. Angie Pearl says:

    This sounds like an amazing book. I want to go out and buy a blank book for my 7 yr old today and thanks for reminding me of the importance of sending out thank you notes.

  50. How much fun! I love what she’s shared here, so the book must be fabulous!