Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Froebel Gift Number 5

Sometimes I think that of everything that Froebel did, Gift 5 is what doomed him to being all but forgotten, his invention of the Kindergarten living in name only.

Here and there, Froebel's teachings are still studied and followed, but the vast majority of Kindergartens are not following Froebel's plan, and if you go back to how the change occurred, you will find mentions of his blocks being too small and fiddly for young children.

Whenever I get my Gift 5 set out and start playing, I find myself in agreement with the critics. Those little triangular pieces, seen here in the peaked roof over the church doors, are just a nuisance. Trying to make some of the example designs with them, particularly when they are expected to rest on each other's angled surfaces, can be enough to make me growl in frustration. This is not necessarily a good thing, particularly with what is intended for me to be a therapeutic activity.

The other block Gifts -- Gift 3, Gift 4, and Gift 6 -- are not small and fiddly, or at least not nearly so as the smaller pieces of Gift 5. (Gift 4, which I seem not to have blogged yet, although I build with it frequently, is 8 oblong pieces, having its sides in the same 1:2:4 ratio as the Unit Block. Gift 6 is an enhanced Gift 4 in the same way that Gift 5 is an enhanced Gift 3.)

Someday I'd like to have an oversized set of Gift 5, with even the smallest pieces having enough heft to be comfortable in more relaxed block play.

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