Froebel’s Equipment and Materials
Froebel developed specially designed toys called Gifts to be used in guided play around a table. These are made of balls, blocks, tablets, sticks, rings and beads and are used with every age group. The Occupations are the complementary art activities such as paper folding, sewing, painting and constructions with play dough. The Froebel Gifts and Occupations provide a unique opportunity for creative expression, discovery, sensory learning and meaningful discussion.
The youngest children gain impressions from their plays with the Gifts as well as by making constructions using the Art Occupations. They also begin to form perceptions of the geometric forms they are using and symbolically relate these to their world. The children are continually thinking about and imagining things they can create. Even the youngest children can “think with their hands”. As well, the children’s vocabulary is constantly growing in relation to their experiences. Story telling, knowledge and understanding are being developed. The children also are learning clearly and accurately about the properties of things such as the number of objects, their shapes, size, weight, and composition. In this way, they begin to understand how one thing relates to another and how each relates to one’s self.
What is strongly appealing about these plays and activities is that the children are constantly arriving at new understandings and creative expressions. The Gift plays and Art Occupations only increase in number of pieces and diversity of shape, offering more possibilities to the older student.