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!

Online Knitting Class
Delightful kids' crafts delivered to your door!  See sample crates>>


  1. This book looks wonderful!!!

  2. Such a fun book and an inspiration! Helping my son and daughter explore creativity to the fullest is so important to me and the book and class sound like wonderful tools!

  3. This book looks great!! I would love to win, thanks for the opportunity!
    Yvonne´s latest post: Coming Soon!

  4. I guess I’ll put off buying this one for just a little longer!!

  5. I would love to learn how to create a space that cultivates fun, inspiration, and creativity for my children!

  6. Trish White says:

    Would have so much fun with this book!

  7. Just got the book today!!

  8. your post resonates so much with me… love to find out more from your book! 🙂

  9. I would love to win this book 🙂

  10. Great ideas! Thank you for the inspiring posts.

  11. Narelle @ Cook Clean Craft says:

    This book sounds fascinating. I’d love to learn more to help my children grow and develop.

  12. Pipsqueak says:

    Looks like a fantastic book. Would love to use it to guide our family.

  13. Creativity and inspiration, I would love to have this book in our family.
    Diana´s latest post: Paseos de mañana

  14. Thank you the the great giveaway! I would love to win this book. It looks fantastic!

  15. I love your ideas…AND especially your intentions: to strengthen our relationships with our children and to instill in them a love of learning. I am so excited to try the ideas here! Great article. I look forward to what your book suggests. Thank you!

  16. I love the idea of doing yearly self-portraits! What a fun idea.

    The book sounds wonderful. I’m excited to check it out.

  17. Loretta S. says:

    I just stumbled across this book in my internet wanderings and would love to really delve into it!

  18. I am so excited about this book!

  19. I’d love to create better spaces in my home for my children to learn and be creative.

  20. I would love to learn more playful ways for my kids to learn!

  21. Thanks for some good ideas. I especially like the idea of self-portraits, for kids and adults!

  22. So excited to read this book!!! What great ideas to make learning fun!

  23. Just discovered your book this morning while “trolling for inspiration” for my first grade classroom–I always try to keep myself properly grounded in the face of increasing line-item expectations and standardized assessments! Thank you!

  24. Wonderful giveaway! Thanks for the opportunity.
    Kathy´s latest post: Yarn Along for August 17, 2011

  25. I’ve been dying to get my hands on this book since I first heard about it! What a great giveaway! Love the ideas you mentioned!

  26. Katie Davis says:

    What a wonderful resource–I’m looking forward to putting these ideas into action! Thank you for such a generous giveaway.

  27. I was headed to amazon to purchase this book(its been sitting in my cart for a couple of weeks) after I finished reading this site today! Winning a copy would be even better!


  28. Would love to win! Looks like great information.

  29. What an awesome book! I would love to see what I can change in my own home too! Thanks for sharing!
    Stephanie´s latest post: New School Year (and a Nature Walk)!!!

  30. Christina says:

    Great giveaway, thanks.

  31. Wonderful! Would love to use this in our home. 🙂

  32. your book looks wonderful.

  33. I would love to add this to our library! …always get great inspiration from Mariah’s blog….thank you!

  34. I love this book!! And I love the website. I’ve already had several chances to use the activities in the book (letter writing and story writing) as they came up as natural interests my daughter displayed. I was so happy to have something to do to enhance her experience. Thanks!

  35. Would love to win a copy of this book!

  36. What a wonderful book. Very heart-centered while inspiring children to grow and learn within a natural rhythm. My partner in crime (aka. Evelyn, age 1 1/2 years) would be such a terrific little candidate for exploring these beautiful projects.

    Thank you for this fantastic post.

  37. Jessica Anderson says:

    This books looks wonderful!!

  38. I would so love to win!!!

  39. foxbrooken says:

    Thanks for the give away. Playful learning sounds like so much fun!

  40. This sounds so interesting and I am in dire need of re-thinking creativity around here. We are in a real rut. I would love to put away the colors and coloring books and do some more fun stuff!

  41. Sounds like a wonderful book…would love to read it!
    Krissa´s latest post: Summer is…

  42. The book sounds fantastic — thanks for the opportunity to win!

  43. I found Mariah’s website a few months ago and I just became so inspired. I would love to make some great spaces for my little ones. As for the book, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!! I keep checking to see if my library has a copy of it yet. No luck. I would absolutely love a copy. Thanks for the opportunity!!

  44. I love the playful learning website and would be super-excited to win a copy of this book!

  45. This book looks so good ; )

  46. Oh my goodness, this looks wonderful! I’m so glad I followed Rockin’ Granola’s link… I can’t wait to give these ideas a try. 🙂

  47. i love creativity times with my kids. the best time to learn what they are thinking of….thanks for the giveaway!

  48. I love the ideas outlined in this post, especially the yearly self-portrait. I’d love, love to read the book and participate in the e-course.

  49. Would love to win this book!!

  50. What a lovely book! I would like to win a copy to use with my girls.