are always following their inner impulses. Their innate curiosity and creative potential only have to be “teased out” and maintained. So that they can fully realize their urge to discover and their delight in designing, they need a reduced learning environment. Focusing is the key word. The aesthetic materials are limited to what is essential. These feature clear colors and simple geometric shapes with a high recognition value.
Gradually through play, children develop their aesthetic sensitivity, wealth of ideas, and creative power.
According to Fröbel, creative materials such as the arranging materials or their contemporary version as window films are highly stimulating, encourage learning processes, and allow knowledge to develop. Children can delve deeply into their self-selected play learning environment. Here the true wealth of the creative materials is revealed: With each playful experiment, variations grow from simple shapes into complex structures. Children will not only conquer the land of imagination but also gain casually or through focused stimulations essential knowledge of mathematical symmetrical shapes and colored aesthetic patterns and forms of life. And they will become acquainted with something valuable for the future: concentrated, structured, and independent work on an object.
What can we learn from Friedrich Fröbel? Friedrich Fröbel recognized the importance of play and hands-on activities for children. His system of Gifts was based on intensive observations and the collective play with the children of his play groups. We can therefore learn from him: Look closely at what interests the children, reduce what is offered to them, move from the simple to the complex, accompany the activity with language, give the child the correct terms, and play along with them!
Why are his pedagogical approaches so important especially today? Many children today are exposed on the one hand to an over-abundance of entertainment and play materials and on the other hand to an impoverishment due to one-sided stimuli, which is often conveyed by the media. The implementation of education plans therefore requires all-round educational opportunities and stimuli. In Fröbel's terms, less is more. He showed us how versatilely simple, not pre-defined play materials can be used. The individual parts of his Gifts can be re-assembled again and again. They make possible meaningful and productive play experiences for the children. In this way their creative energies are intensively stimulated. During play, they open themselves up to the laws of structures and materials and develop their language, mathematical knowledge, and aesthetic sense.
How can Fröbel's approaches be transmitted and implemented to the present day and age? Simply try playing with the arranging boards! In a group of children, each child will develop something different – an opportunity for an exhibition, where for example all the results are presented and photographed. The photos could be developed further and laminated and as a pool of material in a box could stimulate children to recreate them. Or you arrange an image with the arranging boards and tell a story about it!