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Froebel Gifts

learning: a spontaneous, enjoyable experience for children.

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.

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The character and purpose of these plays may be described as follows: They are a coherent system, starting at each stage from the simplest activity and progressing to the most diverse and complex manifestations of it. The purpose of each one of them is to instruct human beings so that they may progress as individuals and members of humanity is all its various relationships. Collectively they form a complete whole, like a many branched tree, whose parts explain and advance each other. Each is a self-contained whole, a seed from which manifold new developments may spring to cohere in further unity. They cover the whole field of intuitive and sensory instruction and lay the basis for all further teaching. They begin to establish spatial relationships and proceed to sensory and language training so that eventually man comes to see himself as a sentient, intelligent and rational being and as such strives to live. - Friedrich Froebel
  1. ball on string
  2. sphere, cube and cylinder
  3. eight cubes
  4. eight rectangular blocks
  5. more cubes, some halved or quartered to introduce the triangle
  6. more rectangular blocks, some halved lengthwise or breadthwise
  7. parquetry tiles
  8. lines
  9. rings
  10. points

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.


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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.


Kids/Blocks/Learning by Patricia Gaffney Ansel

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.

Froebel's building blocks



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