Welcome to Strewing Central!

These are a few of the baskets I use for choosing  items to be strewn.
These are a few of the baskets I use for choosing items to be strewn.

Since writing this post a few days ago, I have received a flurry of questions about strewing- what it is and how I do it. I guess my definition would be placing potential objects of interest in strategic areas around the house with the hopes of inspiring learning. So I guess that answers what it is.

Here’s how I incorporate this method… Before we started unschooling, I used to keep all of the children’s toys in their bedrooms to help keep our living area clean. This helped with our downstairs being readily fit for company at a moment’s notice, but it caused a problem. Our children rarely spend time in their rooms. They spend a good 90% of their waking moments almost literally at my feet- even the older ones. I’m certainly not going to complain about them wanting to spend time with me because, let’s face it, a lot of children don’t want anything to do with Mom and Dad. While I didn’t think about this much while we were homeschooling because I always kept them busy with all sorts of projects, this really posed a problem when we began unschooling. They didn’t want to be upstairs, but there was nothing left for them to do downstairs. This may have contributed to some of the blank stares I used to get when we first started this method of learning. So, obviously, the solution has been to keep some most of their activities downstairs.

Doing foam crafts
Doing foam crafts

Obviously, this makes for a much messier house, and, therefore, more frequent bouts of straightening, but it has been so worth it. Toys that sat around for months are now being played with, and, honestly, it’s much easier for me to keep track of puzzles and games when they’re where I can see them.

These legos are kept in our living room. They're sitting on top of a bin full of picture books.
These legos are kept in our living room. They’re sitting on top of a bin full of picture books.

Although keeping the toys (I keep referring to toys- remember, children learn through play, so don’t discount them as learning resources.) out and in full view has worked wonders, it’s sometimes not enough. You know how after you walk past something a hundred times you kind of just start to ignore it? That happens here, too. So what I’ve started doing is pulling out a few items everyday and placing them on our dining room table. I don’t call attention to them. They’re just there. Sometimes I’ll lay out a few puzzles, some freaky facts science books, crayons, and paper. The other day I found some US states cards, so I put them on the table with an atlas and some blank maps. Somedays they’ll get used; other days they won’t, and that is fine. My goal is to remind them that it’s there, and sometimes that is enough because a week later, I’ll find them playing with said toy. Some days my strewing items are a hit. Today I gave the kids a plastic bin filled with foam sheets, foam shapes, glitter glue, and crayons. That kept them quiet for quite a while. I also pulled out our solar system model that comes with an interactive tablet today. I found Luke(5) listening intently to the narrator this morning, and today at bedtime, I was reading The Magic School Bus book to Bailey about our solar system, and he was able to answer the questions correctly…and it wasn’t because I ever taught it to him.

Solar System model
Solar System model

Now sometimes we may have valuable resources that can’t really be strewn, so it’s important to get creative. For example, we just replaced our chalkboard with a white board today. The kids didn’t really take much notice to it because we’ve had the chalkboard for years, and they had started to ignore it. I really thought this could be a great way for the children to write and have fun at the same time, so all I did was this…SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I wrote on it. That’s it, and believe it or not, that was enough. What I had hoped would be used for some writing practice turned into this…

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Now please keep in mind that these are girls who hate math! I was happy as a lark when I saw them initiating math on their own.

Another pleasant surprise came later on. Bailey asked if he could go on Paint on my computer, so I said yes. I thought he was going to draw. A little while later I went to make sure he wasn’t destroying my laptop, and I found him typing the words from a book that I had unintentionally set on my computer desk.

Score!
Score!

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about strewing, though, is that it is not meant to force a child to use the chosen activities. Think of it more as just giving your child an idea…maybe for now, maybe for the future, and maybe never. That’s okay. Speaking from experience, I know that the more you push a child into doing something- no matter how you sugar-coat it- the less they will want to do it. Another important thing is not to separate school from life. I’ve actually stopped referring to it as school because it’s so much more than that. It’s living intentionally.

Do you have any other strewing ideas? I’d love to read some new ones!

Linking up with

Thriving-Thursdays1

Growing Homemakers Linkup

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Joy Dare Blog

Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

14 thoughts on “Welcome to Strewing Central!”

  1. That’s what we are going to call our clutter now!🙂 Seriously though, I do this with my daughter’s books….I keep them all over the house hoping this will encourage her to read. Really neat post!

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  2. Genius!I may find it a little difficult to let go of leaving toys around the house, but I like the idea immensely. Perhaps I will start with a table that is changed out daily. But seriously, crazy good idea.

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  3. Yes, I opened the blind near the kitchen table. It wasn’t long before one of my girls was drawing birds. I had strewn bread on the ground! Oh, and I broke out some “newer” colored pencils the day before.

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  4. We do this but have a lot of room for improvement. One thing I do to cut down on the mess/clutter is pack away some of our things and rotate. So in the attic right now we have boxes of books, some games, math manipulatives, science kits, etc. We will pull those out in a few months and pack away different things.

    I need to do better at pulling some things out strategically. I tend to forget about things buried in tubs or on shelves that are out of sight, just like my children. For example I know my kids would get a kick out of the owl pellets hidden on the science shelf, but out of sight out of mind. I know my little boys would love the letter stamps and ink pads but they got put on a shelf taller than the boys, so they don’t see them. Thank you for the reminder!

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  5. When I was still working! my daycare gal had a brilliant routine. During two different times of the day she sat a collection of 1-4 bins on her table. The kids played for an hour each time while she prepared either breakfast or lunch. It was my sons favorite time! The bins were awesome and organized: Legos, blocks, magnets, play doe and accessories, etc. When the meal was ready, the kids placed everything back into the bins and then the bins were placed on a high shelf.

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  6. What a great idea! With the “I’m bored” of summer already being uttered, I love this idea. Going to try it tomorrow! Thanks for linking up with Funtastic Friday.

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