With increasing consciousness of his own power and increasing knowledge of the properties and adaptations of objects the child begins to exercise a higher form of causative activity. Discerning in objects some ideal possibility, he seeks to make that possibility actual, and the mere exertion of force rises into productive and transforming energy. Observing the various forms in which this productive energy finds expression, we become gradually aware of a fresh parallel between the development of the individual and that of the race. Science has shown that the embryonic period of physical development is a masquerade of long-vanished forms of life. In like manner the children of each new generation seek instinctively to revive the life that is behind them and in their favorite occupations and amusements re-enact the prehistoric experiences of mankind. All children crave living pets, build sand houses, and make caves the earth; are fond of intertwining bits of straw, paper, or other pliable material; delight in shaping bowls and cups and saucers out of mud; and are inveterate diggers in the ground, even when, as in city streets and alleys, such digging is wholly without result. Can we fail to recognize in these universal cravings the soul echoes of that forgotten past when man began the subjugation of Nature by the taming of wild beasts, the erection of rude shelters, the weaving of garments, and the manufacture of pottery? Can we doubt that the order of history should be the order of education, and that before we teach the child to read and write we should aid his efforts to repeat in outline the earlier stages of human development? Even more interesting than the reproduction of primitive industries is the struggle of the child's soul to express its own nature in the varied forms of art. To sing, to dance, to hear and repeat simple rhymes are chief delights of all young children; and alliteration, too, has for them a tireless charm. Nor are they less eager to build, draw, paint, and model. To a pathetic experience of Froebel's own childhood, when, with such material as he could pick up, he vainly tried to imitate a Gothic church, may be traced the impulse which bore fruit in the building gifts of the kindergarten. The love of drawing shows itself in many forms. The child draws with his finger in the air, traces outlines in the sand, makes shadow pictures on the wall, blows on the window-pane, and covers its clouded surface with his motley fancies, and even bites his cookies into the forms of men and animals. In like manner his plastic instinct finds satisfaction in shaping figures out of animals. In like manner his plastic instinct finds satisfaction in shaping figures out of wax, clay, or dough, and, lacking a paint-box, he will find or invent coloring material for himself.What Blow describes comes from the days in which children were reliant on the exercise of hands and mind instead of upon screens that have been purposely programmed with the exercises and expectations of a industrialized adult world.
The kindergarten gifts are Froebel's practical response to the cravings of childhood.
Yesterday in the wood shop of Clear Spring School my student who had tried three times to make a working bow reached a level of success that truly pleased him. He is a large boy and wanted to make a bow that would express his own power. He has done so. And the excitement that comes when a student has reached a tangible goal is palpable.
In the morning before school, I began assembling boxes. Previously, I had selected and planed the material for over 30 boxes, and then pre-sanded and finished the insides. I later squared the edges and ripped the sides to width, and cut miters. Then I cut grooves for the bottoms to fit and rabbets where veneered top panels will be fitted after assembly. Now I am in the process of fitting bottom panels and gluing corners, so small piles of box parts are beginning to resemble real boxes in that they have volume and take up space.
I remind my readers of my Etsy store where you can find my boxes for sale. Each was crafted using my own hands and aesthetic judgement at every step.
Make, fix, create, and extend to others the opportunity to learn likewise.