Wallace J. Rogers, Ph.D.
Founder, Author and Researcher
Frank Lloyd Wright at the Drawing Table
Living a full generation before the birth of Frank Lloyd Wright, Froebel at
in 1837 opened his first school for children in Blankenburg, located in his native land of Thuringia.
Initially, the school was created using colored wool balls, wood cubes and spheres, and parquet
or tablets, which included an assortment of squares and triangles, for hands-on play. By 1850,
would add wood cylinders and sticks, along with paper for piercing, sewing, weaving, folding and
cutting. Slates were created for drawing while thin wires and garden peas were used for constructing
two- and three-dimensional models.
When fully developed, the first Kindergarten consisted of a system of Gifts and Occupations intended for use with children of all ages - from infancy through secondary school. Two years after opening his school, Froebel came up with the word kindergarten, which refers to the children's garden. Turning to nature for the name of his new school seemed like a natural thing to do since a significant part of his own training came when he worked with Professor Christian Samuel Weiss at a much earlier time (1815) at the Mineralogical Museum of Berlin.
With previous interest in studies of minerals and natural laws, Froebel fit right in with Professor Weiss, who had recently formulated theories regarding the classification of crystals according to their physical structure; that is, based on their natural geometric forms, their rotational axes and surface planes. Hired as an assistant to Weiss, Froebel organized Weiss' spectacular collection of gems and stones for display at the museum.
Based on Weiss' discoveries of the geometry and
internal structure of crystals, Froebel's work led to new insights into the development and growth
of children, and subsequently to his idea for creating geometric playthings for children. In this
way, crystallography gave way to a kind of learning that was rooted in the manipulation of
geometric "toys" taking on the form of solids, planes, lines and points.
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