influence of Friedrich Froebel, 1782-1852

Froebel's Kindergarten

Froebel's kindergarten was a school for the psychological training of little children by means of play and occupations. The kindergarten method as defined by Froebel is based upon a series of geometrical gifts and a system of categories. In the kindergarten, the child plays with one of the gifts at a time to discover its properties and possibilites for design. The gifts were presented to the child in sequence and the child was allowed to play with them freely. Whenever the child ran out of ideas for play, the mother or teacher can invoke one or more of the categories to suggest another way to play. The child is thus encouraged to think about certain kinds of designs that can be made with the gifts.

Froebel's Gifts

second gift
  1. colored balls - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple
  2. solid wood sphere, cylinder, and cube with dowels to make them tops and connect them and a gibbet for swinging them
  3. wooden cube divided into 8 smaller cubes
  4. wooden cube divided into 8 oblong blocks
  5. wooden cube divided into 21 smaller cubes, 6 half-cubes and 12 quarter-cubes, an elaboration of gift 3
  6. wooden cube divided into 18 oblong blocks, 6 pillars, and 12 squares, an elaboration of gift 4
  7. parquetry - flat wood shapes to be arranged on a grid

Other gifts consisted of slats, sticks, rings, strings and points, colored tablets, colored papers to cut and fold, clay and sand, pencils and paints.

The wooden blocks, gifts two to six are available from The Froebel Gallery

For details of makers of the original gifts and occupations around the world, send email to froebelweb@yahoo.com

Froebel's Categories

  1. Forms of Knowledge - mathematical and logical ideas such as number, proportion, equivalence and order. These ideas serve to define natural divisions of a gift and to suggest ways of rearranging or transforming these parts.
  2. Forms of Life - represent things that can be seen in the outside world .. buildings, house, table, sofa, tree, etc.
  3. Forms of Beauty - blocks arranged on a grid without stacking to have some kind of symmetry, to form patterns viewed as ornament


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