Are you stumped for strewing ideas to inspire new interests in your kids? Need some boredom busters that don’t bust the printer or the bank? Here are some of my tried and true sources of ideas, in addition to using nature to inspire new interests. See if some of these might get your child excited and curious.
Look at Badge Programs for Strewing Ideas
You don’t need to join a badge program to use their ideas for projects, interests, and skills. When I was a girl, I was part of the Girl Scout program and there were dozens of possible badges girls could earn. I knew girls whose sashes were covered with badges! Some of these programs are not what they used to be, but they can still be goldmines for strewing ideas. Here are a few favorites.
Even if you’re not going to the state fair, 4-H offers a wide variety of options for developing useful skills that surpass just raising livestock. And, they offer small booklets and guides to help young people find the resources they need and meet criteria for competition. Check out their site for practical strewing ideas and information on how to meet state standards of excellence. These can offer a challenge and help you determine your child’s level of mastery.
This is the new, Christian counterpart to Girl Scouts. They include a badge program across six frontiers at three different, age-appropriate, levels: Our Heritage, Personal Well-Being, Family Living, The Arts, Science and Technology, and Life Skills. Their aim is to equip girls to be Christ followers and leaders in their communities. Check out what they offer and see if you’re inspired.
This is the new, Christian counterpart to Boy Scouts and is very similar to American Heritage Girls cited above. They also have a badge program that fosters adventure, leadership, and character, training boys to be strong men in Christ. If your son had been part of Boy Scouts, they can receive credit toward their Trail Life badges. See if Trail Life might be a good fit for your son or perhaps offer some strewing ideas.
I would highly recommend joining one of these programs as a great opportunity to develop friendships around productive, Godly activities and explore new interests. I have found that these programs offer a wonderful alternative to sports if your child isn’t athletic. They also offer a relaxed, but mastery-based way to learn.
Have you ever browsed at a museum store? How about an ethnic marketplace? Those places have some of the most interesting things for sale! For example, I found a kit for making Slavic ornaments out of stir sticks and straws once. In 10,000 Villages, I found African drums and finger pianos. Check out all those niche crazy shops and see if something really strikes a chord with your child.
Educational Toy Catalogs
In addition to crazy niche brick and mortar shops, how about crazy niche catalogs, particularly toy catalogs? Some of my favorites are Hearthsong, Mindware, Magic Cabin, Fat Brain Toys, Discovery Toys, and Young Explorers. These catalogs are chock full of imaginative, educational, active, and wacky toys! And, there’s even a toy-sharing option, Toy Library, that allows you to share toys so you can try new things guilt-free and save money. You can also try STEM subscription box options for a month or two.
If you have ever browsed a Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, you know how irresistible those stores are. Even if I wasn’t planning to do any crafting, just walking around in there makes me itch to create something. So, if you’re looking for some inspiration, take the kids to the craft store or investigate local craft fairs. There’s no obligation to buy anything at a fair, but it may stir up the itch to create! And, your child gets the opportunity to talk to the artisan about their craft.
This is a bit different than craft stores, although some craft stores include hobby materials such as building model rockets or cars. Radio Shack and American Science and Surplus are great resources for this type of strewing idea. Some small, local hardware stores may also have supplies for hobby projects. My son is a regular at our independently-owned hardware store and buys his Dremel project supplies there. The folks who work there are happy to help him and encourage him. It’s refreshing to see a young person interested in something other than video games! (Although he loves those, too.)
Low-Cost, Second-Hand Options for Strewing Ideas
I cannot even tell you how many gems I have dug up at the numerous thrift stores near me. I found wooden looms, a rock tumbler, educational games, bags of yarn, large sheets for sewing projects, a telescope, and all kinds of other wonderful treasures. Thrifting is a great way to inspire some creativity and perhaps find some of those more expensive items you’ve been wanting. It’s also a fun way to offer challenges. Gather up some random stuff and say, “What can you do with this?” or get an old radio or VCR and let your kids take it apart.
This is also a possible goldmine. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure, right? Look for garage sales that have more than clothing. Multi-family ones are my favorite.
Below are a few other places where I have discovered great strewing ideas over the years.
My kids loved this site and we did projects from them for a couple of years. It is a low cost way to explore almost anything in a safe, kid-friendly environment. They offer badges, peer feedback, challenges, video instruction, and more to encourage kids to stay curious, explore, and get encouragement in their passions. So, I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you don’t want to join one of the troop programs listed at the beginning of this post. Also, diy.org is open to anyone, regardless of their faith.
Sometimes, a magazine subscription can inspire a child. A couple of STEM ones that I have tried include Make and Oyla. We have also had subscriptions to Highlights for Children, Ask, and Nature Friend. Similar to this, sites like Instructables can inspire kids and also provide detailed instructions and often video. However, exercise caution with magazines and websites. Some of them may not be suitable for children or may contain information that isn’t in line with Christian values. Usually, with magazines you can ask for a trial issue to see if it’s a good fit for your family. And, having a bunch of trial issues around can be an inspiration in itself.
I hope this list has given you a fresh infusion of strewing ideas for your homeschool adventure. Whether you unschool or just need a change of pace, there’s so much out there to discover and do! Try some of these possibilities and let me know in the comments what you like the best.