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. I was just talking to my husband about how important fostering creativity and character is in our young children. I would love this book for ideas!

  2. Oh i’d love to get my paws on this book! Thanks for the chance!

  3. We are about to begin a preschool homeschool co-op and are getting so excited. The concept in this book is more of what I desire and loved as as a homeschooled family oriented girl growing up!!

  4. Sounds like a whole lotta fun!

  5. Heather N says:

    Amazing content. I would love to read the entire book! Thanks for the giveaway.

  6. Looks very interesting!

  7. Vanessa Yu says:

    Seems like a wonderful book. . .looking forward to adding it to my library!

  8. I have had this book on my Amazon Wish List for months. I have been seeing reviews for it everywhere and I’m so looking forward to having my own copy! As for the course, I think it looks incredibly encouraging, though a bit pricey for a mom of 6.5. I would absolutely love the opportunity to win either. Thank you for such a terrific giveaway!

  9. I’ve been wanting to read this book!
    Kinda Crunchy Kate´s latest post: Adventures in Gardening: What I’ve Learned Thus Far

  10. Marie Plamondon says:

    I would love a copy

  11. I’d love a copy!

  12. I am Homeschooling my kindergartener and would love things I can do with all my boys 🙂

  13. I love the idea of yearly self portraits.

  14. Love the 4 big goals – and all the activities that support families. I can see myself buying this book to share with our 4 kids and their little families – Christmas shopping, yeah!
    Crystal´s latest post: Wordless Wednesday

  15. Our school board is moving in the direction of learning through play for our younger students. I would love a copy of your book for inspiration at school and at home!

  16. This book is just the creativity resource I need right now!

  17. I would *love* to get my hands on that book and the ideas it contains!
    Kira @ Kissing the Joy´s latest post: Undeserved Kindness

  18. I would love this book and course!

  19. I would love to get new creative teaching ideas.

  20. This concept sounds like music to this mama’s soul- love the premise and heart behind the idea. Thanks for the chance!

  21. Wow! This looks so good! Would love to win a copy! 🙂

  22. What a great giveaway!

  23. Trying like heck to win this giveaway and finding my way to new and wonderful blogs like this. Thank you!

  24. Stéphanie says:

    Wonderful giveaway,
    Through this post, I have already got new projects to start with my preschooler twins, can’t wait to get more ideas from the book or e-course.
    Thank you,

  25. What fantastic ideas! I am looking forward to reading the book and gleaning more fantastic ideas.
    Stacie@HobbitDoor´s latest post: Too Blessed To Be Stressed

  26. Oh how I would love to have this book!

  27. This would be a great book for me because this is definitely an area I struggle in. Great post!
    Lawana´s latest post: Name Changes

  28. Sounds like this is right up my alley! Exactly the type of attitude towards learning that I am trying to foster in my daughter!

  29. This is a very exciting giveaway: the book and the course – very generous! Thanks for the opportunity!!! 🙂

  30. I’ve been looking for more ideas for me and my little guy. We could really use this book!

  31. I was just working on writing letters with my daughter. I have worked with kids and hoping to start a co-op too. I think this would be very inspiring for myself and others I know, but especially my husband who is really looking for new ways to parent and is an avid reader who learns things best through reading on his own. I love those activities. They are so very up my alley!
    featherstory´s latest post: Cooked Vegan Recipe of The Week

  32. How lovely. My son is about to start kindergarten and this seems really relevant to us right now.

  33. Not sure if this giveaway is open to people outside the US – but I had to comment anyway to say I love the “heart” pictures. What a cool idea! I am going to do that with my son tomorrow.
    Mika´s latest post: Challenge Day 3

  34. I’d heard about this book and would really love to win a copy. My children would really benefit from it! I hope your Giveaway is open to overseas subscribers.

  35. Some great ideas in this post!

    I’ve also had this book on my wish list for months. Thanks for the chance to win!
    Jennie´s latest post: It’s almost time…

  36. Lovely post. I can’t wait to read this book!

  37. I would love the chance to win these prizes! What a great post.

  38. So excited to read this book! Have a little three year old who is really into writing so I need all the good ideas I can get about how to continue to make this an exciting adventure for her!

  39. This article has caught my interest and I hope to win the giveaway.

  40. christine says:

    thanks for the opportunity – as we start another year of school, I know I need some tips, tools, and inspiration for working with my child at home!! cheers!

  41. candice wise says:

    i would appreciate winning this book and making memories with my two boys!

  42. Oh, I would so love this. Fingers crossed!

  43. I think we’ll do self portraits today as a reflection on school starting. I’d love some more ideas from your book!

  44. Waiting out the storm (near Baltimore) definitely helps put things in perspective. I’d love a copy. Thanks for the chance.

  45. What a lovely article. The Four Big Picture Goals really resonated with me strongly.
    Cherie´s latest post: Painting with eyedroppers

  46. I would love to read the book!

  47. I would LOVE to get to participate in Mariah’s online class! Thanks for the chance!

  48. This sounds like a fabulous book that could make a big impact – thanks for the opportunity!

  49. I would love to win!
    Thanks so much for the giveaway!