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Froebel Gifts in Boxes

understanding block play

Four of the Froebel gifts are a box containing blocks of various shapes. When the box is lifted above the blocks, the child sees a cube. The first experience of the gift is a perception of unity.

As the child becomes aware that the cube is assembled from a number of component blocks, the natural desire of the child is to remove blocks. As the cube is dismantled many different shapes are seen by the child.

Traditionally block play was done on a surface with a one inch square grid. On this surface the individual blocks could be arranged by the child to form patterns, or assembled to make models, or later be used to discover mathematical concepts. An important aspect of play was that all the blocks were used, which emphasised the unity between the original cube and the created forms.

Finally, the blocks were reassembled to form a cube. The child thus creating the whole from the parts. The box was then lowered onto the cube, concealing the blocks from view. For Froebel even packing up was part of the play.

In this process, the natural inclination of the child to perceive, investigate, and reassemble is the driving force of the play.

Froebel intended this play to be open ended as each of the block gifts presents endless possibilities for creativity and discovery. The trained teacher assisted the process by encouraging the child to talk about their experience. As the nineteenth century progressed the early pictures intended to illustrate some of the possibilities of the blocks were often used a patterns for the child to imitiate. This application was both contrary to Froebel's intention and contributed to the gifts falling into disuse.

the boxed Froebel gifts

Architects remain fascinated by the many elegant building that can be created using these blocks.

Browse a selection of wooden building blocks based on the mathematical and geometric principles advocated by Friedrich Froebel.

Mega Bloks use modern materials to present Froebel's idea of simple blocks with mathematical or geometric logic.

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