“Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.”
~ Friedrich Froebel, Founder of the first Kindergarten
If you haven’t already heard of Spielgaben, the new educational toy from Australia, then I’m very excited to be the one to introduce you to them.
Spielgaben is inspired by the first educational toy invented by Friedrich Froebel, who’s perhaps best known as the founder of Kindergarten. Spielgaben, meaning play-gifts, were invented by Froebel as a building, design, and manipulative toy to be used in his kindergartens. Frank Lloyd Wright, Buckminster Fuller, and Albert Einstein played with such blocks in their own childhoods — and that might be reason enough to buy a set for your child or school!
Inspired by Froebel’s play-gifts, this fresh new version of the spielgaben comes with thirteen boxes of materials that can be manipulated in a multitude of ways. This toy is genius, and one that will not collect dust on the shelf. The kit is something that I wish all children had access to — either at home or at school. As someone who used to purchase materials that had to withstand handling by thousands of museum visitors, this is just the sort of product I would not hesitate to recommend for a high-use learning environment. The quality is outstanding.
When Spielgaben asked me if I’d like to review their product I jumped at the chance. We stock our shelves with open-ended construction toys such as blocks, marble runs, and Legos, and I’ve been drooling over the Spielgaben set from afar since I first read this stunning review by Anna at The Imagination Tree.
Let me introduce you to our set…
I can’t even begin to describe the enthusiasm that met Spielgaben when it arrived at our home. We were all so excited to unwrap each of the beautifully packed gifts and my children worked together to cover this side table with a blanket and set up a “store.”
Game Night with Spielgaben
When we first opened the box my five-year old couldn’t find the instruction manual (not to worry — the kit does come with comprehensive play-guides, interactive worksheets, and inspiration cards that are full of ideas for facilitated learning and play), and quickly came to the conclusion that “we can use these however we want!”
Thank you Spielgaben for making this a truly open-ended experience for us!
With that, she invented a game! She covered a cube in painters tape and wrote color names on each side of the cube to correspond with the colors of colorful wooden rings. She then created a looping path of circles and found small pieces for our game tokens. The rules of the game were similar to Candyland, and we played for a full hour!
The next day my three-year old wanted to play again, and this time for almost two hours. I kid you not. The power of child-directed play was palpable.
Benefits of Spielgaben
Volumes could be written on the benefits of this toy, so let me briefly share just a few of my favorite benefits of Spielgaben:
Loose parts: The kit includes hundreds of loose parts that can be organized, sorted, and played with in countless ways. No two play sessions will be the same and the imagination will be active as straight sticks come to represent street lamps and a tower of cubes becomes a metaphor for a castle.
Child-directed Learning: Children will be inclined to invent their own games, stories, buildings, patterns, and ideas with these blocks. And the open-ended nature of the materials means that children can use them to direct their own unique interpretations of ideas.
Fun for adults: While many children’s toys can quickly lose an adult’s interest, Spielgaben is engaging for both children and adults. Just look at the diamond patterns I made with those triangles!
Learn while you play: While these blocks are playful, they’re also a true teaching tool. The set comes with an enormous volume of learning ideas, printables, and 8-12 years worth of learning activities and lessons. In the example above, you could create a clock shape and use the pieces to teach children to tell time. And in the picture below, a color wheel is set up to teach complementary colors.
Materials: The materials used to make the sets are environmentally sustainable and non-toxic.
Order Yours Today
To order, visit the Spielgaben website. If you place your order by November 23, 2013 Spielgaben promises that it will arrive in time for Christmas! Just saying. All orders include shipping. Spielgaben will ship to all of Europe, US, Singapore, New Zealand, Canada and Australia. (Outside, US, UK and AU, there are extra shipping charges).
Also, Spielgaben is offering Tinkerlab readers a promotional discount. All you need to do is fill out a contact form and mention that you heard about Spielgaben from Tinkerlab, and you will be provided with a discount coupon.
Resources: Spielgaben and Froebel’s Gifts
The Psychology of Froebel’s Play-gifts: A free ebook by D. J. Snider, 1900
The Kindergarten Building Gifts: With Hints on Program-making: a free ebook by By Elizabeth Harrison, Belle Woodson, 1908
Note: Spielgaben sent us a free set of materials to review, but all opinions are our own. No further compensation was received in exchange for this review.