Lanterns and Learning

Making paper lanterns is a good antidote to dark winter days. I’ve been making quite a few.

To make a pinprick lantern, draw lightly on the back of medium weight paper. Poke holes along the lines of your design with a pushpin or nail. Put a piece of an old exercise mat under the paper for easy poking.

You can add a lot of pinholes. The smaller the pin, the more closely you can poke.

sarah jones

Pin drawing by Sarah Jones

Connect the sides with a staple or brass fastener, forming a cylinder. Let there be light! (in this case an electric tea light candle).

lantern by Erica Hanson

I showed these projects to my friend Claudia Cohen who exclaimed “Froebel!” Who is Froebel? Or Frobel?

He was a visionary – a man of “curious passions and focussed eccentricities” – who invented kindergarten.

He believed that all of the natural world contained an inner order. This could be taught to children through activities like pricking paper, weaving, embroidery and playing with building blocks. Claudia had examples in her library of antique sampler books based on Froebel’s teaching.

Froebel believed in nurturing children like plants in a garden – thus the name kindergarten. His ideas spread all over the world. He planted the seeds for many modern artists and architects.

Kindergarten in the USA still has echoes of Froebel. Most preschools and kindergartens have a block corner. Froebel called for blocks to be simple so that children could learn ” to feel and experience, to act and represent, and to think and recognize.”

You can read more about Froebel, the origins of kindergarten, and the connections between kindergarten and the growth of modern art in Inventing Kindergarten by Norman Brosterman.

The seeds that are planted in early education make a difference in children’s lives. According to Froebel, “Harmony, unity and the reconciliation of opposites are the concepts that form the theoretical and practical underpinnings of the kindergarten.”

Here is to light and dark, to young and old, to then and now. Best wishes for a harmonious and enlightening New Year.

5 responses to “Lanterns and Learning

  1. Thank you, Julie for your Lanterns to light our entry into the New year! I used to teach kindergarten, and incorporated many of Froebel’s ideas for child development. I only have Book Two of the HOME KINDERGARTEN MANUAL dedicated by with his words, “Wouldst thou lead the child? Observe him… and he will show you what to do,” Walnut sail boats, paper necklaces, and home-made sewing cards!

  2. Oh, to be remembered for your “curious passions and focussed eccentricities”! (I have a few, but they’re unfocused, definitely.) This is a wonderful post, Julie – I’m headed to the library to see if I can find Brosterman’s book about Froebel. And I might even try to make a lantern!

  3. wonderful post. here’s to the light of lanterns and kindergarteners leading the way.

  4. Patterns…a delight to the eyes…the spice of life. Your light shines brightly and the lanterns are so endearing. Love the history lesson. Thank you.

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