Froebel's Kindergarten Occupations for the Family produced by E. Steiger Co.

Froebel's Kindergarten Occupations for the Family produced by E. Steiger Co.

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The concept of Kindergarten was developed in Germany by Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852), a student of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, the nineteenth century. Froebel’s German kindergartens encouraged children to enjoy natural studies, music, stories, play with manipulative learning toys. He recommended teachers use geometric shapes and crafts for teaching and advocated the use of ‘gifts’ or playthings in the form of geometric shapes to promote learning and occupations or activities. Froebel also incorporated learning through expression, systematized play and social imitation. The first kindergarten opened in Germany in 1837; the first in the US was opened by Margarethe Schurz to a German speaking community in Wisconsin in 1856. In 1860, Elizabeth Peabody had opened the first English speaking kindergarten in Boston. Over time, kindergarten was introduced into public schools with the changed purpose of providing an early academic foundation for 5 and 6-year old children preparing for 1st grade.
This kindergarten activity kit is titled “Froebel’s Kindergarten Occupations for the Family” and can be found in E. Steiger's Kindergarten Catalogue from 1900. The box is made of a thin cardboard with a think paper glued to the outside of it, blue dots design on the paper, in the middle of the front is 4 scenes, 2 thin red lines go around the sheet in the middle, the top left scene is a little boy, sitting on a chair at a desk who is writing, upper right is a girl in a red dress, blonde hair, red bow on the top of her head, gray bow at her neck, Sitting at a desk, drawing; lower left, little girl with brown hair, red bow on the side of her head, wearing a red and white striped shirt underneath a brown jacket with a frilled white collar and a little red bow, she is looking at a piece of paper; little boy in the lower right corner, blonde hair, wearing a dark red shirt, drawing on a stencil or piece of paper, also sitting in a chair at a desk. The middle has “Froebel’s” in half black and half yellow colors, “Kindergarten” in a light red color, “Occupations” in a half red and a half gray color, “for the family” is in black. Inside the box there are embroidery cards with patterns and blank embroidery cards so one could design their own. There is little piece of graph paper, stencils to use, little brown booklet of different activities for boys and girls that is in the box, there are samples of embroidery too.
E. Steiger & Co. was founded by German immigrant Ernst Steiger (October 4, 1832 - August 2, 1917), in 1864 in New York City. The company published texts for German-Americans, and Education Directory from the 1870’s, and produced kindergarten materials beginning in the early 1890’s. They competed with Milton Bradley but also produced their own version of wax crayons and Prang art materials.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
educational toys
date made
place made
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
cardboard (overall material)
paper (overall material)
overall: 24.3 cm x 18.7 cm x 1.9 cm; 9 9/16 in x 7 3/8 in x 3/4 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. Richard Lodish American School Collection
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Education
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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