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The Art of Strewing for Kids

by Jean Van't Hul
May 15, 2022
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Strewing is the art of casually yet strategically leaving art and learning invitations out for your kids to discover and explore on their own.

Updated May 2022

Do you strew?

If not, we’re going to encourage you to give strewing a try this week.

We first learned about strewing from Kristen Marra of Pepper Paints years ago and have practiced it ever since. You can read more about strewing in The Artful Parent book, too.

First, though, what does this funny word mean?

Strewing is the art of casually yet strategically leaving “invitations” for learning and creativity out for your kids to discover on their own.

NOTE: Strewing is not about adding to the clutter. It’s about creating subtle but irresistible invitations. Product placement if you will. Strewing works best, in fact, in an uncluttered space.

Strewing is more about helping your kids explore and play and create on their own. It’s about introducing or reintroducing materials, books, concepts, in a non-pushy way that lets them own the experience and gives them the thrill of discovery.

strewing pin graphic
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

How to Try Strewing at Home

So, what and where to strew? Here are some ideas:

Remember, think simple invitations rather than “here’s a project.” And if the strewed items are in a place your kids wouldn’t expect them, they’re more likely to *see* them.

Girl reading graphic novels for summer reading.
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

Books (opened to a page on the sofa, bed, or table)

  • A new graphic novel on the sofa
  • A wordless book (for pre-readers and early readers)
  • A touchy-feely book (for toddlers)
  • A big grown-up photography book about elephants or sea life or construction
 Toothpick Construction
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

Creative Building Materials

hole challenge
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

Art Experiences

nature table resized (1)
Photo by Jean Van’t Hul

Nature

  • Set some nature finds on the table or in a basket
  • Leave a pair of binoculars and a bird guide on the windowsill
  • Set up a microscope near the nature table
matchbox cars on play mat - amartelle
Photo by Andrea Martelle

Creative Toys

  • Set out a couple of matchbox cars, easel paper, tape, and cardboard tubes
  • Line up some animal figurines along the edge of a table
  • Bring out a toy cash register and pretend money

The idea is to choose ideas, materials, and books that will inspire your kids’ imagination, creativity, play, curiosity.

Some of your strewing ideas may be ignored, but you know your children and their changing interests and abilities best; work with that knowledge.

We also tend to strew with items that our kids can do or use on their own without too much supervision (you can watch out of the corner of your eye) or mess (we wouldn’t consider shaving cream art to be a good contender for strewing, for example).

Ready to give strewing a try?

More Art Invitations for Kids

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The Art of Strewing for Kids

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