Sunday, October 19, 2014

the construction gifts...

Froebel began having his students play with blocks early in his teaching career, and his various sets of blocks, starting with gift number 3, left a lasting impression on generations. Unlike tinker toys and legos, the way blocks fit together requires paying particular attention to gravity. But as long as we serve as earthlings, we must find no particular error in that.

Yesterday, in addition to inlaying another 50 or so box lids, cleaning the shop enough so I could walk around without tripping, mowing the grass and being visited by a former student from Marc Adams  School, I made gifts number 3 and 4. I chose to do finger jointed corners, as these are the types of joints we associate with the finer remaining examples of the gifts as manufactured by Milton Bradley.

There are those in the world who have wood shops, and need to know what to do with them. There is no better excuse to cut wood and to put those wood shops to use, than to make one of these special sets of blocks for a child or grandchild. So, as I explained to my friend Rich yesterday, my objective in writing this new book, is to set parents and grandparents in motion, just as I might set a cylinder spinning on a string with a stick in gift number 2.

With gifts 3 and 4, I begin making what were referred to as Froebel's construction gifts.  Frank Lloyd Wright was one of those who attested to the value of Kindergarten and particularly to the play with Froebel's blocks. He said, referring to Milton Bradley Kindergarten Blocks his mother purchased for him in the 1876 Philadelphia Worlds Fair Kindergarten exhibit: "The maple-wood blocks...are in my fingers to this day,"

In the meantime, gift number two is fascinating. I believe both children and those responsible for their learning opportunities will enjoy playing with it and learning from it. It is of particular interest to play with it when you've made it with your own hands.

Make, fix and create...

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