Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Hansel and Gretel method! (Part 2) - strewing their paths with EXPERIENCES


The world is so full of a number of things,
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings!
~ Robert Louis Stevenson ~

In my previous post, I quoted Susan Dodd as she defined strewing.  But in her definition she also included another way in which parents can draw their children into new learning experiences, which I'd like to share with you here. She said:

 "...But there's another element which isn't physically "strewing" but involves instead taking the children out and about with the idea of their seeing (hearing, tasting, smelling, touching) things they might not have come upon otherwise and that you can't lay casually about the house.

Sometimes it's just as simple as driving another route to the same old place, or going to a different grocery store than usual. Other successful outings of note which I consider in the same category as strewing (though not the same action), include

*construction sites
* any public doing like racing remote control things in a parking lot or vacant lot—just passing by
   is sometimes sufficient without even stopping
* concerts
* fleamarkets
* garage sales
* new stores just opened
* old stores in danger of closing (take them in before it's gone)
* prairie dog towns
* vacant lots with wood we can pick up for firewood

And with ALL those things, we get time together, shared experiences and conversation...."

The best 'field trips' are free and happen on the spur of the moment, and these are the ones that usually makes the biggest impression on my little ones. I think it is because these are the kind of experiences which deal with real life, everyday-in-action. Just this past week we've had some super little trips, mostly impromptu and never intended as 'educational' at first, but they turned out delightfully engaging nonetheless:

Some municipal workers were felling trees just up the road from us. We were kissing the Dad goodbye when I heard the unmistakeable sound of chain saws, and since mama's on a mission (more about that in a later post) which requires some nice logs, I quickly bundled the bambinos into the car and off we went in search of the scene of the crime. The children were fascinated by the whole business: the saw, the branches falling, the way one man was hoisted into the tree by the others using a thick hemp rope...even the orange road cones which were placed on the sidewalk piqued their curiosity!

On the same day we visited a new co-operative store which opened at a small shopping centre in our neighbourhood, and spent a very interesting half an hour exploring everything from gigantic gumboots, to secateurs, to paint swatches and birdseed. Oh, the questions a little girl can ask when the world is so full of such wonderful things!!

On Saturday afternoon we took a quick trip to a friend's farm just outside of town to pick up more logs (are you curious yet?? ) and saw a lamb with a broken back leg in a cast (this became a topic of great concern and interest for the next 48 hours!), triplet lambs, and two pouncing puppies. We had to stop to chase some sheep out of the way, and had a ton of fun crawling and climbing over a pile of  logs and tree stumps - great gross motor excercise and sensory stimulation galore!

And they are building a new road just down the road from us, and just from passing by there every few days, my daughter has already learnt the difference between a grader and  an excavator, and is seeing for herself how a road is built! We stop in the parking area of the shopping centre across the way, and wave to the construcion guys, and chat about how much further they are a long than when we came past here last time.

We all have access to these rich 'learning grounds.' It is just a question of whether we will stop, take the time to explore and answer the myriad of questions that will inevitably be pouring out of little minds when presented with such utterly interesting opportunities! What experiences are waiting in a 5km radius from your house to be explored by inquiring young minds??

Here are some very simple ideas for interesting places to visit with your little ones:
  • The Post Office - you can even write a letter to a grandparent or friend and let your child buy a stamp and mail it!
  • Your local library. I will never cease to be amazed at how few mothers take their children along to go take out books!
  • A local nursery or garden centre - oh, the wealth of things to explore: big bags of potting soil stacked high, smooth pebbles, garden tools... Don't just head for the kiddies play area and then leave when they are all played out. Look at and discuss and let them touch different kinds of plants: succulents, mosses, vegetable seedlings, shrubs.  
  • A train station!
  • A butchery / bakery / florist - with everything available pre-packaged and ready to go in the almost generic environment of supermarkets, specialist shops are a real treat!
  • A church bazaar / school fete / community fair / farmer's market - pay attention to the posters on the lampposts, you will be amazed at the array of interesting things happening in your area!
  • Cat and dog shows, or you can even just stop to watch when you see a doggy training class in progress.
  • Or how about just talking to them about what is happening at the petrol statoin while you are there for a fill-up?!
  • My children LOVE going through the car wash!
There is wonder and beauty and breathtakingly interesting things all around us - it is our priviledge as parents to open these doors to knowlegde to our children!

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