Strewing - a term coined by Sandra Dodd - means simply leaving interesting things out for your kids to discover on their own terms.
A simple way to begin having a more learning filled home is to intentionally strew interesting things around. You could even have a designated table top that you use and change out regularly.Having a home that has an atmosphere of learning grows kids who learn all the time.
If you enjoy planning ahead and organizing, you could have monthly themes, kind of like a deconstructed unit study. If you do this, I do recommend that you allow the kids to do what they like with the stuff, and not try to organize them. Let them explore on their own.
Or, if you are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type, like me, change it up when you come across something neat you would like your kids to discover.
You also do NOT have to use a designated table top. I leave new library books on the coffee table, put a board game by the fireplace, or even put the globe on the dinner table for a great dinner conversation.
Here are some ideas to get your imagination going with the possibilities:
A microscope (old-school, non computer connected ones are my favorite), samples to observe like a dead fly, a cat's claw or whisker, snake skin, fabric, etc.
Experiments - baking soda, vinegar, food coloring, oil, milk, corn starch, and lots of little containers for mixing
Magnetism - magnets, magnetic and non-magnetic metal objects, iron shavings in a sealed baggie
Birds - binoculars, bird book, feathers, a nest, an egg (from the fridge), bird seed, bird house kit
Insects - magnifying glasses, books on insects, microscope, jar for collecting, paper, pencils
Numbers - abacus, calculator, dice, cards, some board games like Monopoly, Yahtzee and Battleship
Shapes - pattern blocks, Jenga, Legos, Magna-Tiles, K-Nex, geometric solids
Measuring - ruler, compass, protractor, tape measure, graph paper, string
Family - old family photos, family tree worksheet, maps, any small family heirlooms (not breakable is best for littles) like a quilt, a silver cup, a hat, etc.
World War I - photo of ancestor in uniform, bucket of army men, popsicle sticks for building, map of battle lines, Snoopy "Red Baron" comics, a packet of red poppy seeds, the book Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting
Drawing - paper, pencils, erasers, colored pencils, a drawing book or two
Painting - watercolors, paintbrushes, heavy paper, color palette, acrylic paints, wooden shapes, rocks and maybe a book about painting rocks or animals
Just stock a closet with lots of these types of things you find from thrift stores or used online.
Don't jam the table full, a few items at a time are enough, and be interested yourself, as you showing interest is one of the best ways for kids to get interested too.
Let the items just be there, don't point them out, or tell your kids to go look at it, just let their curiosity pull them over.
At first your kids might ignore what you have put out.
Don't fret, that is to be expected.
They might just be testing to see what you will do.
Just hang back and see what happens. In a day or two, or even a week or two, change it out. You may find that in time your kids get very curious and may even get excited when they discover that you have put out something new.
Love these ideas, Heidi. I am definitely a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type too. ;)
Very cool. What a fun way to learn!