Friedrich Froebel's theories on children's play and learning revolutionized teaching and remain influential to this day. Froebel developed a specific set of twenty "gifts" and "occupations" for children to use in the kindergarten.
The original five gifts were published by Froebel in his life time. The remaining gifts were used by Froebel in his Kindergarten and published after his death. They extend the exploration of solids to surfaces and lines, thus moving from the concrete to the abstract representation of solids using lines.
The theories of Froebel and his kindergarten gifts were an acknowledged influence on Frank Lloyd Wright and the Bauhaus. Both were fascinated with the possibilities of geometry. Both stressed primary shapes: the circle, the square and the triangle, and agreed about the symbolism of each.
Froebel carefully designed these gifts to help children recognize and appreciate the common patterns and forms found in nature. Froebel's gifts were eventually distributed throughout the world, deeply influencing the development of generations of young children. Frank Lloyd Wright credited his boyhood experiences with Froebel's gifts as the foundation of his architecture
Pestalozzi asserted that students need to learn through their senses and through physical activity, arguing for "things before words, concrete before abstract"
Children explore mathematical and scientific concepts (such as number and shape) through direct manipulation of physical objects. As children build and experiment with blocks they develop richer ways of thinking about mathematical concepts such as number, size, and shape.
In our changing society, children now play with techno-toys instead of toys such as blocks, dolls, or others which engage the imagination. Children are not participating in self-directed activities which develop eye/hand coordination, spatial perception or visual memory.
The role of blocks in the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains as well as the findings of studies with children and their use of blocks is described. Lessons are presented in three areas of the curriculum, math, language arts and architecture(art). An annotated bibliography for teachers is included, as is a reading list for students.
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