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The Fifth and Sixth Gifts are specially adapted to older children, though they abound with attractions for the youngest.
“ The Fifth Gift is an extension of the Third. The cube is divided into twenty-seven equal cubes ; three of these are again divided obliquely into halves, and three into quarters.” Here the triangle is met with for the first time. “By the increased number of parts, more extended operations can be carried on. Besides the necessary elements to construct numerous figures, a method which renders all the fundamental rules of geometry evident is given, permitting more advanced exercises in number and form, and also lessons in perspective. When the children come to the more serious duties of school, as principles are unfolded to them, they often exclaim, 'I know that very well; I have played it in the Kindergarten.'
“On long boards of blue pasteboard," says this lady, describing a visit, were pasted an immense variety of arabesques, mouldings, patterns for inlaid work, which had been composed by the children by means of the Ffth Gift. Also lithographs were shown us of architectural forms, of the finest monuments, handsome furniture, &c., invented by the children in the use of the Sixth Gift.
“ The Sixth Gift bears the same relation to the Fourth as the Fifth to the Third. The cube is divided into twenty-seven planes, of which six again are divided, three in height, three in breadth, giving thus columns and squares. “The children are now required to build from dictation, after studying out the likenesses and dissimilarities of the new gift. The pieces are named A, B, C, for convenience.
“ • With one B and one C erect a column two inches high, upon a base one inch square and half an inch thick.'
66 • With eight of A, six of B, and eight of C, build the front of a hall, with porch and balcony, with an entrance, three windows, &c.'
“An endless variety of dictation lessons may be given, according to the genius of the teacher and the capacities of the children.
“ That exercises in the previous lessons may be given, as occasion requires, each child is supplied with a Seventh Gift, containing all the variety of forms of the four previous gifts.
“ The inventive and artistic powers of the children being thus far developed and exercised, their minds being stored with important facts, and their bodies being duly exercised, as well as their mental and moral faculties, they will be prepared to enter the school where a complete course of instruction is given, and find only pleasant exercise in what to those differently trained appear almost insurmountable difficulties."
When the child has been thoroughly exercised with solids, the surface of the cube is given him, - a box containing pieces of board or pasteboard, in quadrangles, triangles, semicircles. With these an infinite variety of figures may be formed. The children receive their first lessons in spelling, imitating the forms of capital letters drawn by the teacher on the blackboard, and giving the sound in unison. By being occupied manually, the child's attention is fixed, which is the great point to be gained.
“ Each child is required to form the letter e. When formed each is required to place b before it, and to pronounce the word in unison ; the b is removed, and h, m, w, placed in turn before, and the different sounds given, &c., &c.; and so on with various terminations.
“Movable lines, the surface of a cube cut into straight lines,' is the next exercise for the children. It requires a higher degree of mental power to use these little bundles of sticks, a greater cultivation of the eye and hand to find the proportion of the distances, and to express ideas in beautiful forms, than with the cube which filled the space now to be measured by the eye. They too are more effectually used in the arithmetical operations than the rolling counters of Pestalozzi, as the children manage them themselves.”
But we must refer again to the “ Practical Guide” of Madam Ronge, with its numerous exercises and illustrations, for the fuller unfolding of the progressive method of Froebel. The children pass from laying sticks to “ combining sticks,” — a process calling into activity a far higher degree of inventive and constructive power. This is done by means of sharp sticks and softened peas, and requires much manual dexterity. Plaiting sticks and plaiting paper, forming separate parts into one whole, folding, cutting, pricking, and braiding white and colored paper, are favorite exercises. Some of the designs formed have been beautiful, and put in use for embroidery, crochet, lace-work, carpeting, calico-printing, &c.
“We were shown a large collection of tissues woven by the children with bands of paper of different colors, with straw, leather, ribbon, &c., forming mats, cases, portfolios, baskets, &c. Children of three years weave readily, and it is a favorite occupation. These little works are used as gifts to friends, or are sold to furnish a Christmastree with gifts for the poor. This rouses the children to great enthusiasm.
“The industrial aim is not the most important, although it has many advantages for children, who can thus already earn something. It is desired above all to develop in children the sentiment of the beautiful, that their spiritual aspirations may be satisfied; and to give some practicality, in order that they may be able to represent and realize their ideas, and become truly producers; giving, in one word, freedom to their natural powers.
* This is not attained in making children perform merely useful things; it is abusing their powers to occupy them only mechanically. The principle of Froebel is always to unite intellectual and manual exercises, and to organize labor in such a manner that its results may develop the sentiment of the beautiful and the true.”
Drawing exercises are commenced very early. Slates fur-. rowed in squares are used; the pencil, falling into the furrows, forces the children to make straight strokes, and gives great firmness to the hand. Afterward paper is used, ruled in the same way, but in pale blue lines, not to injure the effect of the drawing. The children are taught to invent freely before copying.
Froebel calls his method " drawing in the net," and affirms that it is in strict accordance with the nature of man, or the law of his inward life. “The head and breast line," says he, “ are practically our measures and standards as we conceive forms. As we perceive the representations of external forms in a right angle, drawing in a square space is a natural operation."
It is impossible to explain the whole method so clearly that it can be practised without patterns and a certain amount of training
Children almost universally delight in color. In the Kindergarten, the balls, colored papers, &c. somewhat educate the eye, but more specific lessons are given when they are allowed to use colors. They begin by painting “ in the net," with the pure primary colors. They are carefully taught the harmony of colors, and their relations to each other, by learning to compound them.
The earliest lessons are in painting leaves of trees, and they learn to imitate the various shades and forms very accurately, and then proceed to flowers, wings of insects, birds, and other natural objects.
Modelling is one of the most important occupations in the Kindergarten, and affords such an extensive ground of operation, that children of all ages can exercise themselves with advantage. This becomes very absorbing to them. It opens so varied a field of employment, with a material so pliant, that in some sort they can realize their crude ideas. Some of the children attain to great success.
“ In making the tour of the tables, we remark some works modelled' in clay. A little girl of six years old is working at a charming basket filled with fruit; a temple surrounded with elegant columns, a horse at full gallop, are the works of a child of seven years; the truth of form and boldness of execution are remarkable. We are told that this child was for a long time the despair of his parents, on account of his ungovernable and obstinate temper. He broke all he could lay hands on, abused the servants, and gave way to extraordinary fits of passion. Endowed with great intelligence and energy, he did not know how to control his undirected and unemployed powers.
“ His character changed immediately after his entrance into the Kindergarten, and he shows already a decided talent for sculpture. This gifted boy used his powers for evil, because he had not been taught how to make them useful in developing his talent for construction.”
The Kindergarten, with its innumerable exercises, presents varied and attractive employment to all tastes and tendencies. “ The supervision and discipline prevent the abuse of liberty, and inspire a principle of order in the hours of recreation, which regulates the conduct of the children, whether in the presence of their teachers or by themselves, either in or out of the garden. This principle of order, far from constraining them, pleases them, because they have a natural love of harmony." Whilst losing nothing of the natural buoyancy and spontaneousness of childhood, -in fact, retaining unusually its freshness and sweetness, free from the fretting of idleness and unused life, the progress of the little ones is remarkable. The first years of life are always spent in making acquaintance with this outward world. Froebel does not burden the mind of children; he helps them in their allotted work by meeting the wants of that nature to whose study he devoted his lifetime, and which he so tenderly respected, so clearly understood.
His methods of initiating the study of geography and history were peculiar to himself. Froebel sought to teach mathematics as the foundation of all knowledge ; but living mathematics of some sort, the actual preceding the dry formula which follows as the expression of the universal law.
“This idea should be studied thus in Froebel's Menschenerziehung. It will be seen from these simple indications, that he gives in this manner a logical basis to the young intelligence, founded on the analogy of the laws of human thought with mathematics, the absolute ignorance of which too often produces disorder in ideas, or the adoption of false
“ Froebel has provided for children, from the first, a series of gymnastic exercises or little plays which amuse and instruct them, exercising the different muscles, loosening the fingers, and giving the bands an astonishing dexterity. They are indicated in his • Talks and Songs of Mothers.'
“ To render these exercises truly beneficial, the conditions of their healthful action must be taken into account; they must not be entered into at improper times, as immediately before or after a meal, nor continued so as to produce weariness, nor in the closely-confined rooms, or in an impure atmosphere. Having these conditions in view, the movement-plays of the Kindergarten have been arranged. To prevent deformities of the spine, no child is allowed to remain too long in one position.
“ To secure the co-operation of mental, nervous, and muscular action, all movements are accompanied by songs, which enlist the sympathies, excite the imagination, and cause the children to suit the action to the word.'
“ These plays are plays of union and order. Every motion is according to rhythm; and there is not a muscle in the body nor an organ of the mind, requiring exercise, that does not receive its necessary stimulus through them. The plays are adapted to very young children. Many of them have been invented by children, and collected and set to music, with appropriate words, by practical educators, who have acquired the power to teach by observation."
These songs are of various character; some of them of a tender and affectionate tone, cultivating the family affections, love, consideration for others, and gentle and courteous demeanor to playmates. They are introduced often by some
. little story, when the children are playing with the gifts of