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PERHAPS you wonder what these words mean. I will tell you. They mean
" The Children's Garden;" or, a Garden in which the children are regarded as little plants or flowers, and their teacher is the Gardener who cultivates and trains them, so that they may grow right and shew all their beauties. And the way this is done is by taking them vhen they are very young, and teaching them by playing at all manner of nice games, instead of the old stupid way of giving them a book and making them sit still for an hour, and then calling them up to say their letters and spell their words, whipping them with a rod or a cane if they did not say them right. Instead of this old awkward
which only made children hate to go to school, these children play when they get there; but they learn to read, and they learn many more useful things beside all the time they are playing, and this makes them love to go to the Kinder Garten.
These schools first began in Germany, but there are several of them in and near London now. A lady who keeps one of these schools at a place called Hope Lodge, Welling, Kent, two miles from Shooter's Hill, a pretty place with gardens all round it, has sent us a picture of one of the games they play at there. · Dont they look happy and merry? And they are just as happy when they go back into the school; for they have so many nice playthings of one kind or other, that they are never dull or tired, but always active and lively.
We received a letter along with the picture, and we shall give some extracts from it which will tell you more about the “Kinder Garten.” The writer says :
“I do not think you have ever seen such a Garden as that about which I am going to tell you—the plants in which are smiling happy little children, who grow and thrive there under the care and nurture of a kind and loving teacher, who is called the Children's Gardener.
Let me tell you how their time is spent. They are not idle—if they were they would then grow up like useless weeds—but they are all busy, and so are never cross, but always happy.
They learn to read first by making their letters with coloured pieces of pasteboard, and then putting them together into syllables and sentences. With nice little sticks they make pictures on the table, and beautiful stars, and forms of anything they see or imagine. They also draw on slates, beginning in such a simple way that the youngest can manage to do it. To each child a box is given containing little cubes or wood bricks, with which they build houses, castles, bridges, steps, seats, couches, or any object they like to represent; and they talk about these the while with their teacher. They also learn to count with their cubes, to add, subtract, or divide, and this is better than working hard sums on a slate, is it not? When they grow a little older, other boxes of cubes, divided into a greater variety of forms, are given to them, with which they gain more new thoughts, and make further progress. Then they have pretty coloured papers, cut into strips, which they are taught to plait together, and make mats, baskets,
and such things. Thus they learn to notice the beauty of colours, and to combine them in various forms; and, which is very important, they also gain habits of patience, perseverance, neatness, and order; for you know nothing can be done well without these. Another pastime they have is making models of various forms out of clean soft damp clay, such as birds' nests and eggs, baskets, flowers, lambs, or any thing they like; for you know how children like to get some wet sand, or even mud, and make all sorts of funny things.
But the children are not always sitting still at these things, and many more such, of which I cannot tell you all ; but they have plenty of exercise out of doors, too, because this is necessary for their health. They have a real garden to play and work in, where they sow seeds, and watch the plants and flowers, and notice the wonderful things which the great Creator has made, and given for our use and pleasure, that they may also learn to love him. Out of doors they have nice games, with pretty songs (for they learn to sing), about the fishes, and the pigeons—here is a picture of one for you to look at—the labours of the farmer, and the planets in the heavens! and they imitate in these games that which they are singing about, and so use their muscles to make them strong, while they get pleasant thoughts and good feelings to rise in their minds."
From this brief description it will be seen that the “Kinder Garten" schools are intended to make learning a delight instead of a labour to all the little folks who attend them.
Another thing, it must be very pleasant to the teacher thus to become as a little child again, and join them in their infant sports.
Beside, this way of conducting a school must be the best. It seems to be the right way to draw out and expand the powers, both of the body and the mind, just as the sun draws out the buds and blossoms of plants, whilst the rod system, like a scowling sky, only impeded their growth, or nipped them in the bud.
We shall be glad, very glad, to hear of the general establishment of Kinder Garten Schools; or, as we should call them, Playing Schools.
A COTTAGER'S LAMENT.
AN English labourer, whose child was suddenly killed by the falling of a beam, wrote the following lines, suggested by the melancholy event. They are touchingly beautiful.
SWEBT, laughing child! the cottage door
Stands free and open now,
The gladness of thy brow!
Thy mother by the fireside sits,
And listens for thy call;
Her quiet tears down fall;