Saturday, July 28, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Children's books

Here are some fun books about machines with great
drawings to stir the imaginations of budding inventors. 

The Book of Foolish Machinery written by Donna 
Lugg Pape and illustrated by Frederic Winkowski

The Great Alphabet Race written by Janet and 
Roger Campbell and illustrated by Tom O'Sullivan

Me and My Flying Machine 
by Marianna and Mercer Mayer

The Elephant's Airplane and Other Machines 
written by Anne-Marie Dalmais and 
illustrated by Doris Susan Smith

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Fascinating History of Kindergarten

Friedrich Froebel was "a man of curious passions and focused eccentricities" and a cutting edge educator when he invented kindergarten and coined the term in the 1830s.  Before that, children under the age of seven did not go to school.  Froebel apprenticed to a woodsman as a teenager, was a land surveyor and mapmaker, and studied botany, biology, minerology, math, and natural history at two universities.  He taught at the Frankfurt Model School and learned the pedagogy of Johann Pestalozzi, a revolutionary himself in using sensory and physical activities.  Froebel also served in the Prussian army and worked for many years for the Mineralogical Museum of the University of Berlin before his interest in education became full time.  
He opened his own school in 1816 and spent the rest of his life developing programs to include making handicrafts, gardening, singing, and dancing, activities that he saw as important to uniting the physical, intellectual, and spiritual capacities. Froebel opened orphanages and schools in Germany and Switzerland and wrote scholarly papers about his educational philosophies.  He re-wrote songs and compiled games in a book called Mother-Play and Nursery Songs.  He designed twenty "gifts," or sets of blocks, balls, sticks, and clay, for children to create and learn from.  Over the years, kindergarten and the gifts were transformed, but the system of hands-on learning for the very young was adopted around the world.  Some of the gifts are shown here below, interpreted and made in the mid- to late 1800s by various toy companies.  See more gifts and read more in the book Inventing Kindergarten by Norman Brosterman.