Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) was a German educator who became known as the creator of kindergarten. In 1837 Froebel opened an infant school in Prussia, originally called Child Nurture and Activity Institute. He later was inspired to change the name of his school to Kindergarten, meaning ‘garden of children’. Froebel insisted that improvement of early education was vital to comprehensive educational and social reform.
Froebel also started a publishing company for play and other educational materials. He published a collection of Mother Play and Nursery Songs which was translated into several languages. He also developed a series of simple educational materials, which he called gifts and occupations. His gifts were simple geometric figures that allowed for more open-ended play. Froebel’s gifts have developed into the Tinkertoys, unit blocks, color cubes and Cuisinaire Rods used in today’s schools. Froebel’s occupations were loose parts that children could manipulate freely such as clay, sand, beads, and rope.1
Another of Froebel’s most important contributions to educational theory was his belief in ‘self-activity’ and play as essential in education. Teachers were not meant to drill children but to encourage their self-expression through play, both individually and in group activities.2
- Video: Froebel Kindergarten Gifts
- Biography of Froebel and more information about his kindergarten curriculum
- Official website of the Froebel Trust
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