DIY: Froebel Gift One (Colour Balls)

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I am completely enamored with the Froebel Gifts. As you have probably come to realize, I am drawn to simple materials that carry infinite possibilities with their learning and creative potentials. The Froebel materials are gorgeous in their turn of the (20th) century simplicity, yet genius in that they can continue to be used and built upon throughout the high school years. I am still reading Frederich Froebel’s books, but I have found myself shocked at how many concepts are held within the seemingly simple and easily overlooked Gifts. (Just as how Dr. Montessori’s materials carry so much genius and can often be used to different effect in the Primary and Elementary curricula.)

I ordered several of the Gifts recently, but choose to attempt a DIY for Gift One — six to ten pairs of balls, depending on the child’s age: the primary and secondary colours for preschool and kindergarten aged children and indigo, black, white, and brown for older children. One set of the balls have a string attached or running through them and the other is left without. According to the wonderful Tiffany Goesel, the originals were wet-felted (though knitted and crocheted seem to be the most popular today), so I originally attempted wet-felting them, but was not happy with the resulting colours.

Instead, I raided Ella’s never-ending bag of felt pompoms and used my felting needle to thread matching embroidery thread through each ball. I added pink for now because it is Ella’s favourite and I know that for her a lack of pink in any colour activity will undermine its success, and also because it is included in the Colour Box 3 and this makes her Colour materials consistent.

The most affordable purchase option that I could find listed the core six pairs at $22. I already owned a huge bag of embroidery thread and pompoms (both worthwhile investments for the homeschooling mama), but if I had to purchase them new at $14 and $5, respectively, plus $2 for a felting needing (or any strong, long, and sharp needle), that $21 price tag comes with a giant supply of materials that will be put to good use; or you could buy individual colours of thread and a small bag of pompoms for 30cents per thread skein and maybe $2 for the pompoms — so $7 for the complete set and still some extra thread and pompoms.

Because I purchased Gift Two (from Montessori Equipment/iFit), I received this wonderful display rack that could easily be homemade, and I like to present the Gift One on the rack along with some other colour exploration materials (Colour Box three takes up the shelf beneath this display)… and Ella likes to immediately remove them.

We will be posting some wonderful activities for us with the Froebel, balls, so I wanted to give you a chance to DIY or buy this material so you can join on the activities as soon as they are posted!

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