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The OISE Library's Kindergarten Teacher Training Collection documents the Frobelian approach to teaching kindergarten, employed in Ontario in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, following the teachings of German education theorist Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852). Froebel’s approach to early childhood education consisted of two parts: “Gifts,” which consisted of 10 types of wooden objects for children to interact and play with, and “Occupations,” which were activities designed to develop a child’s skill and creativity. These Occupations included perforating, sewing, drawing, weaving, paper cutting, and paper folding. The Gifts and Occupations were to be presented to children in sequence, gradually building on one another. Froebel believed that this would ground children in the world around them and provide them with a solid foundation for later schooling.
Froebel’s method of early childhood education was introduced to Ontario schools in the late 1800s. By the early 1900s, Froebel’s method was formally part of the kindergarten curriculum. Children aged 4-7 were presented with Gifts and the Occupations, including sewing, drawing, folding, cutting, and weaving. Froebel’s Gifts and Occupations remained a distinct part of the kindergarten classroom into the 1930s.