Map of My Heart

As a teacher, one of my favorite moments was the launch of Writer’s Workshop. Often, the lesson that initiated our yearlong writing curriculum, involved the creation of a “Map of My Heart”, which comes from the book, Awakening the Heart by Georgia Heard. The beauty of this learning experience is that it can be done with all ages. It is also wonderful to do this activity year after year and see how it evolves for each child over time. I have simplified the lesson so that my four and six year olds could successfully complete the activity.

We started by reading, My Map Book by Sara Fanelli. My Map Book, is a wonderful picture book that walks the reader through a variety of vividly illustrated maps of the author’s bedroom, neighborhood, tummy, heart and so on… Next, we talked about how authors write about things they love and hold close to their hearts. I asked, “If you drew a map of your heart, what would you include?” I gave them both a piece of watercolor paper with an outline of a large heart (we used thin sharpie markers, so that when they painted over their drawings, the ink would not bleed). My six year old used phonetic spelling to write all of the words in her heart. My four year old drew pictures and then dictated the words she wanted me to write down within her heart. When they were both finished, they painted in their hearts with watercolor paints.

I framed them and have them hanging in our “atelier” as writing inspiration… Later, our oldest daughter surprised us by spontaneously making a “Map of Daddy’s Heart” as a gift for his birthday!

You can find other inspiring suggestions for doing a “Map of My Heart” here and here.




With over 10 years of EDU experience and a growing family, Mariah started Playful Learning in 2008 as a resource for parents and teachers. In 2010 Playful Learning received the Parent’s Choice Gold Medal, and in August of 2011, Shambhala Publications released her first book, Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder. Mariah has an M.S. Ed in Elementary Education and was that girl sitting in the back of class thinking about what she would do differently if she was the teacher. Now she is happily working with a team of gifted educators to bring life-changing lessons to children, families, and schools around the world. In her free time she can be found taking long walks, enjoying a cup of tea, or swimming in the Atlantic with her husband and two daughters.



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