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Kindergarten building blocks

Bradley's Kindergarten Material No. 3
Bradley's Kindergarten Material No. 3 1900s, Milton Bradley Company. Gift of Geraldine McDonald, 1993. Te Papa

Children in one of Wellington's earliest kindergartens played with these blocks.

Kindergartens were among the private schemes early in the 20th century that set out to develop New Zealand's children – the 'nation's future'. By 1911, the country's four main centres all had 'kindies'.

Friedrich Froebel

The kindergartens were founded on the theories of German educationalist Friedrich Froebel (1782–1852). He believed that children learn best by creating, in harmony with God and the world around – hence the name 'kindergarten', meaning 'children's garden'.

Froebel called his kindergarten blocks 'gifts'. They reflected his modernised, more child-centred approach to education.

© Copyright Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand.