Strewing is a concept I first became familiar with as a homeschooler. It made so much sense to me. It took me years though to transfer that same concept over into something I call sensory strewing.
What is Strewing?
Strewing just means to scatter things about. When it comes to homeschooling, strewing is an intentional scattering of educational materials or making things available for kids to learn and be creative on their own.
Many parents do strewing without even realizing that they are doing it. Leaving a book on the coffee table in the hopes that it will catch your child’s eye or using toy bins that tip down so that kids can see what’s inside are forms of “unintentional strewing”.
Parents who purposefully do strewing do so with the intention of allowing their kids to discover things on their own that will enhance their learning and creativity.
What is Sensory Strewing?
Full disclosure, I may have made up the term. Although, perhaps others have used it before me. I took the idea of strewing for a child’s learning and transferred that to a child’s sensory needs.
When it comes to sensory, kids know what feels good to them. They know what is uncomfortable for them as well. That is what makes sensory strewing such a wonderful idea.
It allows kids to explore their own sensory preferences and meet their own sensory needs. It offers opportunities to also discover new sensory preferences or go out of their “sensory comfort zone” by trying new things.
Sensory strewing works best if your child is already familiar with sensory play and with the sensory systems. This resource is a great way to help them learn the 8 sensory systems.
Important note: When sensory strewing, you want to consider sensory avoiders as well as sensory seekers. While it may be easier to find things for sensory seekers, leave out items such as noise cancelling headphones for avoiders.
Of course another purpose of sensory strewing is to offer a non-threatening way to help sensory avoiders venture into trying new sensory elements.
How we do Sensory Strewing in our Home:
I strategically place sensory play opportunities or sensory tools in areas I know my kids will be. I place sensory doughs or sensory bins on the counter where they sit to eat their breakfast. As they take bites of their cereal or toast, their hands find their way into the bin and they begin playing.
I place weighted sensory bottles, weighted stuffed animals, and weighted lap pads intentionally near where I know my kids sit to read. This weighted snake hung over the back of the computer chair may end up on their shoulders or on their lap.
I leave out baking supplies in plain view knowing that my girls love to bake, which will lead them to rolling and kneading and mixing.
We have a variety of musical instruments, both purchased and homemade within eyesight.
I rotate the sensory bins, sensory bottles, and sensory bags to that they are always discovering new ones. Sometimes I introduce a new one to them, but usually, I just leave it in the open for them to find.
In the higher traffic areas of our house such as the playroom, kitchen, dining room, and living room, I leave out sensory rich toys, games, art supplies, fidgets, and opportunities for sensory play. I leave them on the coffee table, the bookshelves, the kitchen table, counter, and windowsill.
I also take this concept outside. Our yard is filled with opportunities for sensory input. We have a climbing wall, sandbox, trampoline, merry-go-round (amazing for vestibular input!), ropes course in the trees, and of course, the trees themselves for climbing. Seasonal items such as shovels, snow forms, bubbles, sidewalk paint, and parachutes get strategically placed as well.
Instead of having all the books (including the sensory rich ones) on the bookshelf, I rotate a few on top of the bookshelf along with a fidget or palm massager. You don’t want to create clutter with your strewing. In fact, if there is too much clutter in the house, your kids won’t notice the items you have intentionally left out for sensory purposes.
Sensory Strewing is About Discovery:
Strewing is all about creating opportunity. It is not your responsibility to have your child take advantage of every single opportunity you’ve laid out. Part of this process lets you discover what sensory activities and tools most appeal to your child. That’s the beauty of it.
If you get involved and “remind” your child about something you’ve set out or point things out to them, it defeats the purpose.
There are times for guiding your child through sensory play, but strewing is not about that. Sensory strewing about the thrill of the discovery. It’s about letting your child take the lead and delighting in their finds. In this, you are the observer.
Sensory Strewing Ideas:
Leave out snacks that are crunchy, straws, and chewing gum. These are all excellent for gustatory input as well as for proprioception. Sucking through a straw can also be calming.
Outdoor Sensory Strewing Ideas
6-ft Play Tunnel for KidsCaterpillar Play Tunnel and TentKids Play Parachute 12ftMonkey Bars Climbing TowerWater TableSand TableDouble HammockTrampoline with NetGazillion BubblesSunny Patch Blossom Bright SprinklerPenguin Snow ToySnowball Maker
Touch and Feel Books
See, Touch, Feel: A First Sensory BookWhat I Like About Me!TailsI Dare You!Noisy Farm (Touch and Feel Sound Book)Noisy Dinosaurs (Touch and Feel Sound Book)Pat the Bunny (Touch and Feel Book)Never Touch a DragonThat’s Not My Unicorn…That’s Not My Truck…Woodland Sounds
Weighted Lizard 2kgWeighted sensory lap padWeighted Stuffed GiraffeWeighted Stuffed CowCheetah Neck Wrap and Weighted Lap PadWeighted Snake, 1kg
Egg ShakersHarmonicaMini Plastic TambourineMaracasKids Percussion Floor Tom DrumWooden Toy Ukulele
Fidgets and Chewelry
TANGLE FidgetsClick Fidget ToysMesh Squishy BallRainbow Ball FidgetMagnety Magic FidgetPull and Stretch Bounce BallFidget CubeMarble Fidget ToysSpiky Sensory BallsPuffer BallsSensory Chewelry NecklaceChewelry NecklaceChewable Coil BraceletChewy TubesOwl Chewelry NecklaceSensory Chew Pencil ToppersBubble Motion Timer
Get some sensory play ideas to add to your strewing by singing up for our Sensory Solutions and Activities email series. You’ll also get a free sample of our Sensory Play Recipes eBook.
Love it! My son still needs sensory input as a teen. He loves thinking putty.
So many options to incorporate sensory play into the daily routine! Strewing is definitely something worth trying!
Full Spectrum Mama says
I have always done this — though not so adeptly — and I think it works.
But an official sounding term: Yay!
Alas, my little ones are not so little anymore, but I am still trying…
Thanks and love,
Full Spectrum Mama