Using Strewing to Jump Start Learning

Up early, I was busy getting things ready for school.  While I had no definite plan, I had some ideas of what I wanted to do with the boys today.   As the boys started waking one by one I had already placed some things around the room.

I love using strewing to jump start the boys learning for the day.

We have toys all around the house but put away in bins on shelves they don't always think to play with them.  When I see a particular set of toys being neglected (especially ones that are quite educational) I tend to bring them and put them front and center in the boys' minds.

I love strewing items around for the boys to play with.  They never have to play with what I bring out but they are often drawn to discovery.

  • I make sure to strew in plain sight; often using the coffee table in the living room.
  • I have found my boys are drawn to items that they can manipulate like blocks and small toys but not so much to books.
  • I usually dump out the contents of the box or bin; seeing the actual toys draws them in and they can't resist touching and playing.
  • I mix unusual elements together; like today with frogs and fraction tiles. 

Evan immediately sat down and started sorting frogs by color.  I had found a few totes of teaching items I had stored in our garage and came across a few great games; Like this Frog/Math game.  I had planned to use it for Evan for math today but put it out with some of the activity cards for them to play with on their own if they wanted.

The boys all seemed drawn to the colorful frogs and I spotted each of them playing with them at one point or another sorting frogs by color or by species, lining them up, counting them to make sure they had them all, staging battles, etc.  At one point Alec and Evan had a complicated game going with the frogs, the fraction tiles and some boxes and paper.  I wasn't entirely sure what they were doing but they played so nicely with one another. 

You just know has got to be taking place when they're surrounded by all these math manipulatives 

While waiting for his breakfast to cook, Alec started reading his new Zoobooks magazine and told us all about rattlesnakes and the new facts he was learning.

They also watched an episode of Wild Kratts and learned about wolf pups.  They are all quite knowledgeable about lots of animals.  I love when they learn science on their own!  

After breakfast,  I had Ian work with our fraction tiles and write down equivalent fractions for 1/2, 1/3 and 1/4.

While he was doing that I asked Alec what he remembered about reading an analog clock.  He remembered quite a bit and we reviewed rather quickly.  I had found a clock lotto game in my bin of teaching supplies too and knowing Alec had not yet learning this skill I thought it would be something good to practice this week.  He did great!  He picked up on it in no time and we played a game together.

Our clock bingo/lotto game
He followed up the game with two clock pages in his math book and then went on to do an extra page about bar graphs and tally marks.  He walked away smiling that he didn't have to do any math until Friday.

 Ian had finished up with his equivalent fractions work and I pulled out a page in his workbook for him to work on further with the same skill.  I kept the fraction tiles on the table for him to work with as needed and helped him anytime a fraction dealt with larger numbers that we didn't have.  He really seemed to be getting the hang of it by the time we finished up the page together.  He then went on to do a page about elapsed time (which I've never taught him at all!).

Evan, meanwhile, was getting bored and complaining that I wasn't working with him so seeing that the older boys were finishing up their work I joined Evan in the playroom and we sat down to read the book he picked out for today.  I asked him when he was done if he'd like to re-read it yet again tomorrow for school or if he'd like to put it in his bin in his room to read by himself at bedtime.  He felt confident enough to bring it upstairs.

We then sat down to work on a bit of math.  Using the frogs and a few of the activity cards inside we counted by two's, added frogs, placed frogs in front of/ beside// behind other frogs, he listened and followed directions, worked on patterns, and even a bit of very basic multiplication. 

I let all the boys play for a bit and then we all settled down to read the next two chapters in Harry Potter.  By the time we finished it was past lunch time.

The boys were starving and they all wanted me to cook something different for lunch.  I put them all to work making their own lunches (with a little bit of help from me; but not much!).

Evan made a grilled cheese sandwich.  He's been practicing using a frying pan and a spatula ever since he made himself a cheeseburger over the weekend.  I helped him assemble all the ingredients and let him spread the butter on the bread.  He thought it was so silly that we put the bread butter side out but when I explained that it helps it not stick to the pan he understood.

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While he was cooking his grilled cheese Ian was making a box of macaroni and cheese.  We've made it together before so he only had to refer to the directions a few times and was pretty much able to do it all by himself.

Alec cut up some pita bread and made himself some pita chips.  They all assembled their whole plate of food-- Evan had grilled cheese, goldfish crackers and applesauce while Ian had salad with his macaroni and cheese and Alec settled on pita chips, hummus, strawberries, fruit snacks and a granola bar.  They all looked pretty proud of themselves when they sat down for lunch and Evan told me that if he keeps cooking like this he might just cook dinner every night.  I thought that sounded pretty good myself!

During (and after) lunch we watched The Little Travelers; Japan.  It reminded us all a lot of the Travel with Kids series that the boys just loved.  As soon as the hour long movie was over the boys begged me to see if I could request the next movie-- Bali from our library.

We learned a lot about various regions of Japan as we followed these two little sisters on their 3 month long adventure of living in Japan.  We saw calligraphy, origami, lots of temples & gardens, the cherry blossoms, parades, and authentic foods.  We learned about etiquette practices, traditions and past times throughout Japan.  It was wonderful!  The boys even practiced exiting a room without turning their back on anyone. 

It was such a full and wonderful day of learning.  

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  1. We are reading "It's not the stork" now. They of course laugh through the entire part about pooping. One thing I've done for nate in the past and I remember doing in school is tracing his whole body onto a huge piece of paper. Then have cut outs of all the organs, and have him glue them onto his body.

    1. I love that idea! I remember doing that in school myself and I did like that project.


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