Occupations Using Materials based upon the Line: drawing, thread games, finger knitting, knitting on needles, crochet, weaving, embroidery, slat weaving, interlacing and braiding: for children ages 2 to 13 and beyond.
The Froebel Occupations continue to progress from solid materials, to surfaces, and now to lines. Any activity based upon the line can be made into an Occupation as long as the child sees and understands its unity.
Drawing is one of the simplest and most rewarding art forms. Children as young as two are happy with a large sheet of paper and a good set of beeswax block crayons. No pictures per say will be created that an adult will recognize. The importance is in the free movements of the hand, playing with color and being lost in the moment. Something young children do very well. Drawing develops as the child does; as they grow different materials can be explored such as pencil, chalks, and pastels. Indoor and outdoor sketching excursions expand a child's world and help them to see and respect the details of their surroundings. Thread games have been around for centuries. Children everywhere are simply enchanted by a ball of yarn and what can be done with it. A ball of yarn is really a long line. Games, finger knitting, and eventually knitting on needles and crochet can be taught. These Occupations prove that Froebel knew that children's play turned into an adults work, trade or hobby. Sewing on graph paper, on printed cards, or on embroidery cloth is another line based Occupation. The simplest designs begin with the Kindergarten age group of 4 to 7 year olds. Children in the Connecting School and Academy create more detailed work. Paper is explored as a line when the surface is divided into long strips. With this new form many Occupations can be learned. Weaving paper strips onto a mat can lead to weaving on a loom. Interlacing paper strips can create Froebel Stars and other decorative items. Braiding yarn and braiding paper teaches coordination and math patterns. Weaving thin wooden slats into geometric forms continues the math concepts for an older child.
Occupations Using Solid Materials: wool, beeswax, clay, mud, sand, and snow for children 2 to 13 and beyond.
Most children are born sculptors; they represent, imitate, create, and transform. It is the child's greatest enjoyment. They desire to produce forms with any type of pliable material. They knead it and mold it till it represents something to them. This fact did not go unnoticed by Froebel when he made the Occupations part of his educational philosophy.
The Occupations reflect the series of Gifts; recapitulating them as creative expression for the child. Solid materials are explored at first. These can be handled by the youngest of learners; toddlers. Damp sand, moist mud, snow when in season; these are tactile materials that engage the hands and senses. As the hand develops clay and beeswax modeling and wool are added.
The Occupations are not taught in a specific order, but as they complement the work with the Gifts. Unlike the Gifts, the Occupations cannot return to their original forms once they are used. This gives the child a sense of permanence. Also, Occupation work, no matter the materials used, teach not only to be creative and patient, but also many of the art forms are life skills for the future.