Saturday, May 30, 2009

Strewing

One thing I want to start incorporating into our home is the concept of strewing. No, this doesn’t mean letting M leave her toys lying all over the place! Strewing is a concept used by many homeschoolers, especially unschoolers, that refers to leaving educational items or materials out for children to discover on their own and use however they like. (The term was first coined by Sandra Dodd, and she has a great page on strewing here.) While I am not an unschooler at heart, I do think this is one concept we can happily adopt into our methods.

Pretty much anything can be strewn; the idea is to let them discover and use whatever you strewed on their own, in their own way. No getting impatient and pointing it out to them if they don’t discover it right away.

For M, this means gathering several items and arranging them for her to find when she is playing. Leaving cars next to blocks or putting a new tool in her kitchen or a new color of playdough in her bucket is an indirect way of exposing her to new ideas. It stimulates her imagination and results in creativity. The joy of discovering something on her own rather than having us show her is wonderful to see.

For M, strewing right now is reserved to toys and books and discovery object like paper towel tubes, straws and pompoms. But as she gets older, it will include puzzles, pictures, and craft supplies. It can even include spelling new words on the refrigerator with letter magnets and waiting for kids to ask what they mean.

For older kids like J, strewing can include leaving books, crafts, games, nature items (rocks, feathers, leaves, flowers) or other unusual items to be “found” in places like the back seat of the car, the bathroom, or the back patio chairs. I slipped some fun new brushes into the paintbrush jar for him to find next time he feels like creating, for example. It can include posting paintings, cartoons, postcards, quotes or articles they might find interesting on a bulletin board. For computer savvy kids, adding a new bookmarked site to their favorites folder can even be a form of strewing.

I have collected a box of items from the used bookstore, the consignment store and $1 bins at the craft store that we will be strewing this summer, at random intervals, and I can’t wait to see their imaginations at work.

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