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Froebel’s Birthday
by [?]

“The whole future efficiency of man is seen in the child as a germ.”–

On this day, children, the twenty-first of April, we always remember
our dear Froebel; for it was his birthday.

We bring flowers and vines to hang about his picture, we sing the
songs and play the games he loved the best, and we remember the story
of his life. We thank him all day long; for he made the kindergarten
for us, he invented these pretty things that children love to do, he
thought about all the pleasant work and pleasant play that make the
kindergarten such a happy place.

On this very day, more than a hundred years ago, the baby Froebel came
to his happy father and mother. He was a little German baby, like
Elsa’s brother and Fritz’s little sister, and when he began to talk
his first words were German ones.

But the dear mother did not stay long with her little Friedrich, for
she died when he was not a year old, and he was left a very sad and
lonely baby. His father was a busy minister, who had sermons to write,
and sick people to see, and unhappy people to comfort, from one end of
the week to the other, and he had no time to attend to his little son;
so Friedrich was left to the housemaid, who was too busy herself to
care for him properly. She was often so hurried that she was obliged
to shut him up in a room alone, to keep him out of her way, and then
it was very hard work for the child to amuse himself.

The only window in this room looked out on a church that workmen were
repairing, and Friedrich often watched these men, and tried to do just
as they did. He took all the small pieces of furniture, and piled one
on top of the other to make a big, big church, like the one outside;
but the chairs and stools did not fit each other very well, and soon
the church would come tumbling about his head. When Froebel grew to be
a man, he remembered this, and made the building blocks for us, so
that we might make fine, tall churches and houses as often as we

Rebel’s home was surrounded by other buildings, and was close to the
great church I told you about. There were fences and hedges all around
the house, and at the back there were sloping fields, stretching up a
high hill.

When the little boy grew old enough to walk, he played in the garden
alone, a great deal of the time; but he was not allowed to go outside
at all, and never could get even a glimpse of the world beyond. He
could only see the blue sky overhead, and feel the fresh wind blowing
from the hills.

His father had no time for him, his mother was dead, and I think
perhaps he would have died himself, for very sadness and lonesomeness,
if it had not been for his older brothers. Now and then, when they
were at home, they played and talked with him, and he grew to love
them very dearly indeed.

When Friedrich was four years old, his father brought the children a
new mother, and for a time the little boy was very happy. The mother
was quite kind at first; and now Froebel had some one to walk with in
the garden, some one to talk with in the daytime and to tuck him in
his little bed at night. But by and by, when a baby boy came to the
new mother, she had no more room in her heart for poor Friedrich, and
he was more miserable than ever. He tried to be a good boy, but no one
seemed to understand him, and he was often blamed for naughty things
he had not done, and was never praised or loved.