Festivals

Festivals: for children, families & communities of any age.

"Just like nature's seasons and the changes of day and night....so too have man's festivals and games a symbolic meaning. Their power is revealed in wisdom while here mankind unites in beauty and joy. As a means of education it demonstrates that play with its free movement can and does illuminate man in his dignity."              

 ~ Froebel

Festivals at any age are fun. How often do we look forward to certain times of year in order to plan and/or attend one? Our calendar is filled with seasonal games, markets, parades, cooking demonstrations, art shows, patriotic gatherings, religious days, family days, etc.

As early as 1830 Friedrich Froebel was writing about the importance of these festivals. He mentions birthdays, holy days, family days, youth and community gatherings. He also stresses the importance of the day to day festivals of a family's daily rhythm. From sun up to sun down and the hours in between and what we do on a daily basis can be considered a little festival; though many of us today in our hurried lives do not consider the magic of each day. A springtime festival to honor Friedrich Froebel's birthday was often celebrated in schools after his death. We should share its importance & relevance for today.

Young children depend on repitition. Children in the Connecting School and older are ready to branch out & explore new horizons; festivals are the foundation. Each season, each age, each family has their own special days. School's often have a challenging task in organizing festivals for their students and community. Frequently we forget the real meaning behind these days, and that is to simply gather together and enjoy each other's company.

Movement Games & Plays

Movement Games & Plays: for children ages 2 to 13.

"These games cultivate, as the expression of a healthy inner life, a beautiful bearing of the whole body as well as individual parts. They educate towards language and song, awaken attention, a sense of law and order, decency and beauty." ~ Froebel

Froebel's Movement Games should never be taken lightly. They should not be represented by a circle of children clapping their hands and singing a song. His games were far more important and beneficial to the child and therefore should be included in any Froebel education program.

Froebel's laws of Life, Beauty & Knowledge were not limited to the Gifts, Occupations or Gardens. They were meant to be experienced by the child through their senses. Froebel's saying since adopted by 20th century educationalists was "To make the inner outer and the outer inner." A child naturally expresses their inner life by playing and at the same time understands the world they live in. The children played games of walking, wandering, and visiting. These led up to representational games; physical exercises were not included. The movement games were conducted indoors and out. They often began and concluded each day which illustrated unity in a physical way. The games were present throughout the kindergarten years, into the Connecting School, and even in the Academy; where they became more agile and rule based.

Today many teachers and schools do not have the time or encouragement to begin their days with games. Many lessons can be learned in Froebel's Movement Games. One important feature is waking the body and mind up and focusing ones attention in a fun and physical way.

Gardening

Gardening: a life skill for children ages 4 to 13 and beyond.

" The garden of [ Froebel's ] Kindergarten was not only a symbol, it was an essential means for the physical, intellectual, social, and emotional development of the child. Not only were there flowerbeds, heb-beds, vegetable patches, fruit trees and bushes which were planted and tended by all, but each child had his own little plot of land for which he/she was responsible. To learn from the environment around the school was important, yet it was equally important to teach children to care for this environment".                                                                                                                                                                                Quoted from: A Child's Work By:Joachim Liebschner, pg. 39.

Gardening is a very important skill for a child to learn. A garden is like a child and a child is like a garden, in the sense that they need caring, nurturing, feeding, and room to grow and unfold naturally. A child's world is also a garden. The family and home is where the nurturing takes place. Soon the child's "garden" grows & expands to include school & other life experiences; and when adulthood is reached, the whole world is a garden just waiting to be explored.

Regardless of space, a garden can be grown by a child and an attentive adult guiding the way. A small plot of land, a windowsill or a porch will do nicely. Community gardens & wild areas are also possibilities. Beginning one & maintaining it are the most important. Relating the Gifts & Occupation work to the garden & vice versa is educationally significant.

Froebel's gardens included many lessons in them. The children observed the plants, the wild & domestic animals that were in the garden. They dug the earth, they sowed, watered, weeded, cared, and reaped their reward. The garden was tied to the kitchen, with the harvested goods included in the daily meal or in an Occupation. The lessons also included art, botany, farming, forestry, geography, geology, history, mathematics, science, stories and zoology.

Nature Study

Nature Study: Excursions and Observations with children from ages 2 to 13 and beyond.

"The laws of nature are also the laws of education." ~ Froebel

The observation, study, and being in nature are what nurtured Froebel from his childhood and throughout his life.

Froebel spent many an hour in his father's garden in Oberweissbach, Thuringia, Germany observing the plants, insects and birds. As a teenager, he was apprenticed to a forester, who taught him how to care for the trees and animals, but also botany, farming, hunting, surveying and mathematics. Froebel's love and understanding of nature continued to grow into adulthood while at Jena University, while studying crystallography and when he became a teacher.

Froebel's own teachers were encouraged to conduct weekly nature walks. During the walks the teachers taught geography, history, language, botany, geology, and other topics of interest. The walks were continued in different types of weather and throughout the four seasons. Sketchbooks and baskets for collecting were part of each child's belongings. The knowledge gained on the walks continued in the classroom with the children using the Gifts and Occupations in order to express their observations.

Today, nature is just as much as an educational resource as it is a tonic for children and adults. Froebel was and continues to be a wise counselor.