Do You Strew?

Do You Strew?

As I waited for my three-year-old to arrive home from a play date, I stood and surveyed my surroundings. The room was a little disorganized, but corralling my daughter’s baby dolls and shelving last night’s books was not on my radar. Rather, I was looking for seeds of curiosity I could plant to pique her interest when she returned. I was searching for items to strew.

Strewing is scattering interesting objects throughout your child’s environment for him or her to discover.

I topped the art table with fresh paper and finger paints and placed an assortment of stray magnets and wooden letter blocks with animals and their Spanish names on the coffee table. Then, I set the big animal encyclopedia on an end table, recalling how proud I’d been when my daughter correctly identified the brown creature on the cover as a honey badger, while I had to flip to the B’s to be sure she was correct. Finally, I completed the strewing by placing the ingredients for a trifle recipe on the kitchen table.

It may sound like a lot of work, but when you’re the one who always knows which bin houses the rubber creepy-crawlies and the last known location of the hairbrush, you can strew your child’s environment with interesting odds and ends quickly, and differently, every time.

Sandra Dodd, who coined the term “strewing,” suggests things with tactile elements (for example, fuzzy, furry, slippery, or gummy), print-outs, and even food.

To strew your homeschool student’s environment, leave several items lying around the house. They don’t need to be educational, just interesting. Also, be sure to let your child find the items. If your child does gravitate toward your “seeds,” your mission was a success.

Examples of Items to Strew
• Pattern or castle blocks
• Magnets
• Prism
• Cartoons cut out from a newspaper
• Rocks or marbles
• Postcards or maps
• Card game
• Travel magazine or brochure
• Small basket of craft stuff
• Telephone book or dictionary
• Old coins or notes, or foreign money
• Leaves, flowers, twigs, acorns, pebbles, or shells
• Oddly shaped vegetables, bunches of herbs, jars of beans, or an unusual fruit
• Old watch or clock with the back off
• Artwork the child created when he/she was younger
• Container of sand, flour, or coffee grounds
• Small bowls of snacks
• Stamps or stickers
• Sundial or thermometer
• Modeling clay

Do you strew with your child? If you do strew, what items have been a hit with your homeschooler?

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Comments(1 comment)

TRISTA JEFFRIES 08/12/2013 13:16:31

I am definitely a mom who "strews"! I even strew thematically over the course of days or weeks. This week I am strewing in a nature theme. I have borrowed books from the library on local plants, animals, birds and insects and they are left on the coffee table in the living room where my 7 and 3 year old sons spend lots of time perusing them. I also have collections of objects from the outdoors that are occupying shelves, the craft table and other kid-level surfaces. There are birds nests, some small animal skulls and bones, leaves, seed pods and cones, dried flower heads, wings from butterflies and moths, pieces of horn and antlers, rocks and clay from the creek bed, shells, pieces of different kinds of wood and some magnifying glasses and binoculars. (This morning the boys used bunches of long grass as paintbrushes at the craft table after they were inspired by the long stems of some of the flowers I had "strewn" there!) I left some CDs of bird calls, frog and toad calls and insect sounds next to the player. (These have proved so popular that we now have to listen to them in the car as well.) I have been leaving the berries and small bunches of wild herbs we have picked on our afternoon walks in bowls on the kitchen table so they can taste them and use them in any culinary creations. The toys, puzzles and games I chose from the local lending library this week are all nature themed as well.

I think "strewing" is a fantastic way to integrate what kids are learning into all aspects of their lives, and it really supports creativity and independent thinking. One thing that seems consistent through all books I have read about homeschooling, regardless of the approach being advocated, is emphasis on the importance of providing a diverse and stimulating environment. "Strewing" is certainly an effective and easy way to achieve that.

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