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Strewing in Your Homeschool to Spark Curiosity

I walked into the kitchen to find my youngest two kiddos (9 and 6) deep in concentration at the table. Glancing at the pile of tiny clay food, it was clear that they’d been up awhile. These two are early risers.

I’m not.

For my own sanity, and to keep them out of trouble (bright and creative minds are uniquely dangerous when it comes to too much unsupervised time), I started strewing things for them to discover a few years ago.

Strewing in Your Homeschool to Spark Curiosity

Put simply, strewing is leaving something out for the kids to discover, piquing their interest. Putting things in the path of your kids — spreading a feast, so to speak, and letting the kids take from it what they will.

Strewing is popular with unschoolers, and I think it’s one of those things that anyone can adopt and pull into their homeschooling — or life. It’s a great way to incorporate more self-directed learning, giving kiddos ownership of their time and education. But, there are a few things to remember when it comes to strewing…

Strewing in Your Homeschool to Spark Curiosity

No Expectations

The first, and most important thing to consider when it comes to strewing, is that parents should have no expectations for how — or if — the materials will be used.

Really.

Strewing is all about sparking curiosity and letting kids run with it. You’ll set yourself up for disappointment as a parent if you’re putting something out as the start of a new unit study or because you think your kids need a bit more practice in an area.

Strewing fails when we get caught up in a desired outcome. If I strew space stuff — a book, games, maybe queue a video on curiosity stream, and put out some space tous, but the kids fiind a book on Ancient Egypt on the shelf and dive into that instead, it might feel like I’ve failed. And I did, if I set out to start a unit study on space with them.

But, when I keep in mind that strewing is about sparking curiosity, and not product placement, I realize that the Ancient Egypt play and conversation the kids are now involved in is a huge win. They’re owning their learning, and it’s a natural part of their lifestyle.

RELATED: Interest-Led Homeschooling And Your Gifted Children

strewing in your homeschool

 

It Can Be Anything

“What do I strew?” is probably the most common question I get when it comes to strewing. Most people who hear me talk about it get the whole leaving things out for the kids to find thing. They struggle with the what to leave out and the how to keep it from costing a fortune part of strewing. If you do too, I want you to relax.

Strewing can be just about anything:

  • books
  • queued videos
  • DVDs
  • games
  • toys
  • puzzles
  • building blocks
  • science kits
  • historic toys
  • art supplies
  • crafts
  • recyclables

Whatever you dream up — you can probably strew it.

To help you get started, I created a printable for you to download, print, and hang up in your school room or put into your planner to give you a bit of inspiration whenever you need it. Simply drop your name and email in the form below and check your email for your printable!

 

You can also learn more about our #StrewtoLearn email series and join in here! What cool things have you strewed out for your kiddos? Let me know in the comments.

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Books for Animal Lovers

Whether we’re strewing or following an interest-led unit study, I love having stacks of books around on topics my kiddos are excited about. We’ve gone through some pretty interesting obsessions, spent years following rabbit trails, and immersed ourselves in a pretty varied number of topics. One of the most enduring interests, however, has been animals.

Whether it was oohing and ahhing as toddlers or memorizing interesting facts to spout off at the dentist’s office, animals have always been an easy interest to embrace. There seems to be no limit to species, habitats, diets, and more to learn about, so animals are a solid choice for unit studies, science subjects, gifts, art projects, or just entertainment! I’ve pulled together lists of books that range from educational to entertaining, something for the toddler and the teenager, books that are breathtaking to look at and interesting to read. Go wild! 

 books for animal lovers

Books for Animal Lovers to Learn More

Not all animal books are created equal, as any animal lover will attest to. Often they’re full of colorful photos and short paragraphs, but nothing new to feed the interests of a creature nut. The Horse Encyclopedia is a beautiful volume covering everything from the history of horses to their care and breed standards. A fun and quirky book, The Truth About Animals is packed full of interesting – and sometimes hilarious – stories about how animals behave outside of cute viral clips. Vanishing is a stunning book featuring vulnerable and endangered species that will surely be appreciated by the most avid of animal lovers. A gorgeous gift, An Anthology of Intriguing Animals is full of great information, where on the other end of the spectrum is Ugly Animals, a hilariously fun and interesting book packed with less attractive members of the animal kingdom and wildly interesting facts about them. Another interesting angle is The Wildlife Detectives, which details the science of overpopulation and how ecosystems can be affected by just one species.

      

Books Featuring Animals as the Main Character

There is something so comforting and timeless about snuggling up to enjoy a tale told by a character with a tail. Many beloved stories of my own youth featured animals as the main characters, and I’ve loved sharing them with my family and finding new classics! Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH begins a trilogy of lovable and gifted rats that are downright human. More recent favorites, The One and Only Ivan and The One and Only Bob are moving and engaging stories of animals experiencing emotions we can all relate to. As a bonus, The One and Only Ivan was recently adapted into a movie! The Redwall series is packed full of action, historical fantasy, and lovable rodents, with so many books that your animal lover will be engrossed for months. A fun and lovable classic, The Cricket in Times Square is a must read, and Call of the Wild graphic novel is a unique way to enjoy another standby animal story. One of my own favorites as a child, Black Beauty has sequals, numerous movie adaptations, and a beautiful story. Something new and fun, The Finn Chronicles: Year One is a quirky collection of stories told from the perspective of a therapy dog. My own animal-loving kiddos loved Pax and the enormous collection of Guardians of Ga’Hoole books, another series that will enthrall for months on end. 

         

Books for Young Animal Lovers

It’s a simple fact – kids love animals. Babies, toddlers, preschoolers, kids of all ages are entertained and excited by furry, flying, scaly creatures. The Fascinating Animal Book for Kids offers tons of interesting photos and facts, and Jake the Growling Dog uses a pup to discuss emotions and the control we have over them. Perfect for the youngest of animal fans, First 100 Animals and the  Alpha Tales box set are colorful and educational, promising plenty of repeat readings. After Dark is full of poems about nocturnal creatures, and the DK readers like All About Bats are great resources for emerging readers who love animals.

      

If you’ve got an animal lover in your life, you’ll want to snap up several of these titles! Whether you use them to entertain or educate, your whole family will be certain to enjoy them. Use them in a strewing stack, a morning basket, as an animal unit spine, or just the fun of reading a good book together. Enjoy learning about so many interesting creatures, and be sure to let me know in the comments what books for animal lovers you’ve enjoyed!

books for animal lovers

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