Play is the work of children
Friedrich Froebel designed playthings to be given to children. Known as Froebel Gifts, these balls, blocks, tiles, rings and sticks encourage creative play.
All other shapes can be logically developed from the sphere, which therefore represents the source or foundation of all solids. The sphere can also be thought of as a seed which grows, evolves or is transformed into other forms. The sphere can represent to the child particular objects such as an apple, or any other spherical object.
A ball provides everything needed for the expression of the child's life and activity from the earliest beginning and through the later course of development.
The value and significance of play is derived from how the play is imagined and begun, how the plaything is treated and the attitude of the players. The needs of the child and the nature of the ball guide our thinking about how the ball may be used for the first exercise of the child's powers, the development of limbs and senses, as well as arousing and nourishing attention and free independent action.
We see how a little child likes so much to seize and grasp everything, even its own thumb or its other hand or fist if it has nothing else. We also see, which is certainly worth serious consideration, how each hand by itelf is well adapted to enclose a ball, as are also both hands together.
Therefore a ball is early given into the child's little hand. At first the child grasps it in order to comprehend its roundness and eventually comes to possess it and hold it firmly.
Even this clasping will soon strengthen the muscles of the child's fingers, hand, and arm, and also develop hand and fingers so as to fit them first of all for voluntary handling of the ball, and later for the right handling of other things. The proper grasping and the right handling of each thing is important for adults as well as children. This is true in both the actual as well as in the figurative sense.
"Realising how the gifts were eventually misused by Kindergarten teachers who followed after Froebel, it is important to consider what Froebel expected the Gifts to achieve. He envisaged that the Gifts will teach the child to use his environment as an educational aid; secondly, that they will give the child an indication of the connection between human life and life in nature; and finally that they will create a bond between the adult and the child who play with them" Joachim Liebschner on page 82 in his book, A Child's Work: Freedom and Guidance in Froebel's Educational Theory and Practice
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A ball is the first and most important plaything of childhood.
The second gift introduces a sphere, cube and cylinder.
Guide to third gift by Friedrich Froebel translated by Joachim Liebschner
cubes of the third gift.
Building Blocks of the fourth gift.
Beauty forms made with the fifth gift.