I am looking for some new blocks for Caspar. Something architectural. I haven't made any decisions but Froebel's blocks and his other gifts have caught my attention. I'm fascinated.
It has been said that Maria Montessori was inspired by Froebel and it's easy to see his influence in her work. Straight away the Roman Arch and Constructive Triangles appear Froebelian.
Froebel was the founder of the kindergarten. He designed a series of tools called gifts to stimulate symbolic learning. These gifts have been called the original educational toys. Froebel created these gifts to allow children to experience the order and beauty of the physical world.
The gifts include solids, surface, lines, points and a framework for solids. The gifts are used differently to Montessori materials. They require the teacher to guide the child. As an example blocks are not the be knocked down or rebuilt but changed piece by piece and every piece of the gift must be used. So interesting. I have enjoyed reading this collection of articles by Richard Thiessen produced by AIMS Education Foundation.
There are many similarities between Froebel and Montessori. Froebel wrote about children trying to make sense of the world by exploration and the importance of the prepared environment. Because of the hands on nature of the Montessori classroom I think Montessori children would take to these gifts really well.
The Froebelian approach is about more than these gifts. Gardening, songs, movement, games and crafts called occupations are also prominent. I love the video on Froebel Gifts. They go on to say that the core of the philosophy is focused play which could be achieved without the gifts, that this could be achieved with materials from nature walks or everyday materials. Beautiful don't you think?