Strewing great books and resources that inspire meaningful discussions is a way of life for us as a Sonlight family. We read everyday. We discuss what we’ve read in the car, over dinner, and for longer than I’d like right before we hit the sheets. What is it about bedtime that turns every child into the world’s most inquisitive philosopher?!?
What is Strewing?
“Strewing” is the term used in the homeschooling community for being intentional about leaving out items for your children that you believe will interest them. The goal of strewing is to get your children excited about learning without any preconceived plans for how they will use any of the resources you provide.
You’ve heard the old adage, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” Well, here’s an even better one perfect for all of us homeschooling our kids!
“Learning can only happen when a child is interested. If he’s not interested, it’s like throwing marshmallows at his head and calling it eating.” ~ Katrina Gutleben
It’s hilarious because it’s true! Strewing helps us gauge interest before we jump into the deep end or plunge down a rabbit interest trail all by our lonesome. Strewing gives the kids the chance to become invested in the activities before we get over involved.
Why Strew Science?
Strewing science isn’t just a fun addition to our homeschool. Leaving out engaging materials for my kids to find and hold is often the only way science gets done around here. All my kids are under the age of seven. If I’m fighting disinterest in addition to a two year old fighting nap time I’m going to be in trouble!
Why Strewing with Sonlight?
This post features several Sonlight resources. Why? Well, quite frankly they make it easy for me by picking really great resources that excite my kids.
- Picture Books
- Chapter Books
- Science Experiments & Explorations
- Activities and Games
- Hands on Projects
The time I’d spend researching and gathering materials is all spent on my kids. Sonlight is a blessing!
5 Favorite Sonlight Resources for Strewing Science
Sonlight is a literature rich curricula that uses a very hands on approach for science. Our family loves the engaging resources. The books are treasures, full of interesting information, graphics, and ideas.
As their desire for independence grows, my kids delight in the many experiments and activities that require less of my “interference.” I love seeing them take ownership of their own learning! It’s so much more fun to facilitate and guide, rather than lecture and point.
1. Picture Books
Picture books are perfect for strewing! Illustrations and pictures draw in our youngest learners, while engaging the whole family in a story or discussion. While there are lots of different ways to strew books, here are a few of my favorites!
- Display them on a phone or tablet display stand.
- Face them outward on a shelf.
- Stick them in a basket in the bathroom.
- Leave them out on the table.
- Put them in Mom and Dad’s Room. My end table is a happening spot. 🙂
“Mom can you read this one?” “Mom, look at this!” These are just some of my favorite phrases to hear every morning. They pick a book and we get to reading. It happens so often in our home that we call it “books before breakfast” and my kids ask for it everyday!
The Usborne Flip-Flap Body Book is a current and long running strewing favorite. We are in week four of reading bits of this book every morning. Interactive pages divided into three sections about digestion, the senses, and the growth of a baby make this a great choice for little ones interested in how their bodies work. With all the giggles and wiggles around here, I know I’ve got an engaged audience.
Strewing a book isn’t just about reading a book. Carefully selected ones like this one and others from Sonlight spur interest in learning more. Questions asked from reading The Usborne Flip-Flap Body Book lead to tons of science themed fun and stealth learning!
- Our kids initiated a taste test.
- They wanted to look up how to read ultrasound images of babies.
- Siblings declared a teeth brushing challenge using plaque disclosing tablets from the dentist.
And get this, there’s a quiz at the end of each of the 3 sections of each book, which the kids WANTED to try. My kids love testing their knowledge when it’s not required.
Other Great Picture Books From Sonlight Perfect for Strewing Science
- How Do You Lift a Lion?
- The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body
- Wild Places
- What’s Under the Sea?
- The Berenstain Bears’ Big Book of Science and Nature
** These amazing books are available separately or as part of Sonlight’s complete homeschooling packages and are also offered as part of their Just Picture Books packages.
2. Chapter Books
My favorite way to “strew” chapter books for my younger kids is to read them myself. Then when I get to a part I’m sure they would love, I share. The kids have gotten so used to this that it’s not all unusual for them to ask me about what I’m reading in the car. Boom! We aren’t just going to dance class and soccer practice, we are connecting with meaningful conversations about great books!
Stuff Matters is a recent win for us! I love this book! Chock full of fascinating facts in story format this book is really entertaining. The segments are short enough that I can easily share small tidbits and often provide inexpensive/free extension activities on topics that spark their interest.
For example, they were fascinated by the idea that paper money might be going extinct. This has started a big discussion about digital currency! We also learned a few key ways to tell the difference between real money and counterfeit money. We looked at watermarks and discussed how real money was made. Fascinating and compelling science is a strewing win!
Other Great Chapter Books From Sonlight Perfect for Strewing Science
- The History of Medicine
- Listening to Crickets
- Bomb: The Race to Build
- Ida Scudder: Healing Bodies, Touching Hearts
- The Mystery of the Periodic Table
**These amazing books are available separately or as part of Sonlight’s complete homeschooling packages.
3. Hands on Science Experiments & Explorations
Experiments are fun and get my kids excited to understand more about their world. They gravitate towards experiments they can do on their own with supervision. Some experiments though like this light up owl that they couldn’t quite get to work on their own are when the fun really starts. All of a sudden Dad is involved and our quiet Friday night turns into an electronics workshop. So fun!
Sonlight makes science super easy. By supplying kid friendly books for experiments and boxes full of unique materials they make sure you aren’t having to race around digging up obscure items while also trying to make breakfast. Just hand your kids what they need out of the supply box, open the book and be available when and if they need you.
Reasons I Love Experiments from Sonlight
- fun and clear directions
- simple language and guided illustrations
- provision of unique materials
- minimal necessary adult “interference”
- video demonstrations via DVD and streaming video
With four little ones, my hands are often busy, especially in the morning. Sonlight Explorations in Science comes with Discover and Do DVDs that showcase experiments from the included books. The explanations are brief, to the point, and not overly flashy or showy.
The kids watch the steps and boom they are learning about science. I make breakfast. They solve challenges like knocking down a sugar cube tower without touching it. Winning!
Other Great Explorations in Science From Sonlight Perfect for Strewing
- Explorations in Science A – Biology, Botany, and Physics**
- Explorations in Science B – Animals, Astronomy, and Physics**
- Explorations in Science C – Geology, Meteorology, & Mechanical Technology**
- Chemically Active
- Light & Color
***Explorations in Science may be purchased individually or as part of a complete Science Curriculum from Sonlight
4. Hands on Activities and Games
This Book Thinks You’re a Scientist is a great resource for logic puzzles and helping kids think outside of the box. With older kids you could absolutely just leave the book out. With my younger kids I pick an activity and set it up for their discovery. One of our favorites is “The Going Across the River Challenge.” Here, try it with us!!!
Farmer John has a fox, a chicken, and a bag of corn. He needs to get all three across a river. He has a boat, but it can only carry him and one other thing.
- The fox will eat the chicken.
- The chicken will eat the corn.
How does John get everything safely across?
To solve the problem it helps to use items you can manipulate to visualize potential solutions and see what works. One way I made the playing field level for multiple ages and abilities (I have a killer artist and one that still struggles to hold a pencil) was to print out characters to represent those in the story instead of having the kids draw them. I’ve made them available here for you.
My favorite part about this activity is that they didn’t come up with the answer in the book, which I did show them eventually upon request. However, they did come out with several “out of the box” solutions. Here are some of my personal favorites:
- The farmer gets out of the boat and swims the chicken across, while pushing the boat with the fox and bag of grain inside.
- Let the chicken eat the grain or the fox eat the chicken and then they get across inside the other animal. This one was in direct violation of the story, but hilarious nonetheless.
- The farmer calls a friend to bring another boat.
Other Hands on Activities and Games From Sonlight Perfect for Strewing Science
- Get Coding!
- Engineer Academy
- Brackitz Pulleys
- Challenge Crates by RumbleLab
- The Solar System and Beyond Puzzle
*** may be purchased individually or as part of a complete Science Curriculum from Sonlight
5. More Hands on Projects
Another great idea for strewing and my husband’s personal favorite is to construct something and leave it out for them to find. Don’t say anything! It’s amazing how quickly children will want to know what you’re doing. My husband created this barometer and left it out on the front porch. It was irresistible for the kids who then wanted to know all about it.
Other Great Hands on Activities From Sonlight Perfect for Strewing Science
*** may be purchased individually or as part of a complete Science Curriculum from Sonlight
Ready to give strewing for Science a try?
All of these examples were created using Sonlight Science Materials as part of their 30th anniversary celebration. They have amazing deals going on and tons of giveaways to celebrate. The giveaway this week features the materials we used!
Sonlight’s 30th Anniversary Giveaway: Connect with Science Bundle
Perfect for strewing, this set will appeal to a broad range of ages whether budding scientists full of questions about how things work or a full-blown science geek who is ready for scientific principles. Just leave the resources out where kids can find them (strewing), and let the science magic happen!
Products included in the bundle:
- Stuff Matters
- This Book Thinks You’re a Scientist
- Explorations in Science C (Book, DVD, Science Supplies Kit)
- The Usborne Flip-Flap Body Book
- 30 weeks of connecting giveaways
- 30th anniversary missions read-a-thon
- New curriculum guides
- 30th anniversaries freebies like this one
- 30 week Instagram Challenge
- save BIG on curriculum
Wishing you joy, peace, and most of all faith in your homeschool!