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. This book is looking better and better. Thanks for the chance!
    Lise´s latest post: Yarn along, after a long absence

  2. Would love to incorporate these ideas from the beginning!

  3. Shelley R. says:

    What an inviting and gracious giveaway…

    The book would be bonus, but after looking on-line at the description of the e-course, I’m hooked. I’ve hit a wall in our home: our materials are young for our kids and I’m frustrated with the space/furniture/budget we have as “road blocks” to storing up treasured places in the home for expression. So, I would most welcome a spot in the course!

  4. How fun! I love Mariah’s blog & her book’s been on my wishlist since before it was released! Thanks for sharing the learning love!

  5. love the self-portrait annual tradition! we will have to start that 🙂 love all your resources Mariah- keep up the great work!

  6. kerry jenkins says:

    I love this idea, something I try to implement with my three crazy little boys. But a whole book with ideas sounds like a little piece of heaven! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Vicki Rowe says:

    I can’t wait to get a copy of this book. I have just been looking at my 3 childrens space in our home and wanting more inspiration. This book will definitely be my first stop.

  8. I am following around her book tour in hopes of this awesome prize! I would LOVE to be in the class and I can’t wait to get my hands on the book!
    Sarah M
    Sarah M´s latest post: Visual Monday: Lazy Days

  9. I love the idea of yearly self portraits! Maybe we’ll do that before school starts…
    Stacey´s latest post: I’m Bored

  10. This book looks fabulous!

  11. Looks like a great book! I’d love to win!

  12. I keep seeing the most wonderful ideas coming from this book. I am itching to get my hands on a copy!

  13. I was just checking this book out on Amazon yesterday. Would love a copy!

  14. I loved your Playful Spaces e-course and would love to own a copy of your book! Thank you for this opportunity!

  15. This book sounds AMAZING! I’m putting it on my Amazon wish list (unless, of course, I’m the lucky winner!)

  16. I love the thank you note tips!
    And I would love a copy of the book!
    Thank you for the opportunity.

  17. Since seeing this book reviewed and discussed on many blogs, it piqued my interest. I have since become interested (obsessed maybe?) with creating a fun learning environment for my son, who is almost two. I am also thinking about home schooling, as I would love to learn along with my son (and daughter, who will arrive in about 3 months). Anyways, I would LOVE a copy of this book.

  18. I hope to win, we love Mariah’s blog!

  19. Some neat ideas!
    Jessica´s latest post: Treasure!

  20. Would love to have a copy of this book and a spot in the e-course!

  21. This book is on my wish list! I’d love to win!

  22. I love the ideas in the book. They will be great for home and work. The e-course looks fabulous!

  23. I love the four big picture ideas. Four ideas that are close to my heart and in my intentions, but somehow I forget them sometimes. I am going to check out this book either way!
    Katherine Simms´s latest post: Back to School Blues

  24. I’d love to read this! I need all the ideas and help and I can get!

  25. What lovely and timeless ideas; right up my alley!
    Coleen S´s latest post: in the name of God

  26. I love the heart map idea, and yearly self-portraits are a fantastic first-day of school idea.

  27. Tanya Wellburn says:

    What a fantastic giveaway! We’re always looking for new ideas to inspire our children! Thank you!

  28. Tasha Cleaveland says:

    I would love to be entered in the giveaway!
    Thank you for the opportunity and discussion.

  29. I only just discovered the Playful Learning website and blog last week. How wonderful to have a place where all these ideas for creative learning are brought together. The internet is an amazing thing! Both the book and e-course look fantastic.

  30. I am so intrigued! this is what I have been looking for! The book and e-course look outstanding!

  31. Leslie Stewart says:

    Thank you for the opportunity to win this book–it looks wonderful!

  32. Wow – would love to read this book! The self-portrait idea alone is fantastic. Thanks for the opportunity!

  33. The book looks great. I have a two year old and am already on the look out for fun and creative ways to learn. I hope to inspire a love for learning at an early age. Your book looks perfect for my goals.

  34. i just had my kids try self-portraits today! fun stuff

  35. awesome-sounding book – love the hints here + would love to have the whole book to help us through our first year of learning -at-home. thanks!

  36. I already use some of these ideas. I’m anxious to see more in the book!

  37. I would love to win this book!

  38. I love the blog, and I would love a chance to win the book and e-course 🙂 Thanks for the great give-away!

  39. This sounds like a great course.

  40. What a wonderfully written expression of what we hope to gain from activities done with our children!! Connection is so important. I would love a chance to have the book and be in the e-course as I desperately need some help creating spaces for my son. Traditional toys don’t satisify and finding places to put improptu everyday gadgets would be so wonderful!!

  41. How fun to see your then’s and now’s! I love the yearly self-portrait idea- that is fun!

  42. Sounds so great! Thanks for the opportunity!

  43. Thanks so much for the tips! Having young children now, I love the idea of starting early with many of these ideas. And thanks for the chance to win too!

  44. Looks really good. Would love to win!

  45. Leann Jonas says:

    My children have notebooks all over the house! (taking after my compulsive list making) However, I have never thought about organizing this as a project with the slant I hear you suggesting. I love the idea of doing a yearly self portrait. This books sounds fantastic and it speaks to what I have been craving–back to basics, simple and connected parenting. Thanks.

  46. We do the Thank you notes often, but I love the portrait idea and am going to start that this year with my 5 year old.

  47. Sending thank you notes has always been important to me and I’m trying to pass that along to my girls. Thanks for the reminder of the benefits that come from this. And thanks for the chance to receive Mariah’s book or space in her workshop!

  48. This book looks great! I would love to implement these ideas with my kids.

  49. I would love to win!

  50. I would so love a copy of this book. Thank you!
    Amanda´s latest post: Right now