Froebel Box

A Tool for Participatory and Creative Learning


  • Taina Sillanpää Ebeneser Foundation (Finland)
  • Fredrika Visuri Ebeneser Foundation (Finland)
  • Inkeri Ruokonen University of Turku (Finland)


Froebelian gifts, the Froebel box, holistic learning, participatory play, adult play skills, giant-sized blocks, museums


Historically, Finnish early childhood education has been largely based on Friedrich Froebel's pedagogy. However, Froebelian pedagogy is no longer as well known in Finland as it once was. We at the Kindergarten Museum in Helsinki wanted to increase awareness of the Froebelian tradition. Together with artist Alexander Reichstein, we came up with the idea of enriching children’s play by making use of the idea of Froebel gifts. To this end, we invented a set of equipment called the Froebel box.

The aim of our research project is to discover how children learn and interact through Froebel box activities. We use educational design research, which refers to a process in which we develop our pedagogical tool together with the teachers and children from our collaboration Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) centers.

The data was collected from three Finnish ECEC centers and analyzed with qualitative content analysis of teacher’s interviews. According to our findings, Froebelian applications increase participative play and children’s interaction and learning in a holistic way. By playing with giant-sized blocks, children develop their social and motor skills and their mathematical and spatial understanding. Giant blocks are a way that children can express themselves with their bodies.

Based on the interviews conducted, in the future we will concentrate on developing the participation of adults in the children’s play with the blocks, and on enriching the potential of the Froebel box as a pedagogical tool.  There are lots of possibilities for how the Froebel box could be developed as a tool for spatial reasoning that would take into account bodily interaction, the role of teachers in supporting play, and different ways of using spatial concepts for play.