NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1160383
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Dec
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0045-6713
"A Pleasant Way of Teaching the Little Ones to Recognise Flowers": Instructional Nature Plays in Early 20th Century Britain
Palmer, Amy
Children's Literature in Education, v48 n4 p341-354 Dec 2017
This article analyses plays written for child performers in the early twentieth century. The plays chosen are classified as "instructional" and aimed at developing pupils' knowledge of the curriculum. The focus is on understanding why these plays were useful for Froebelian educators in the period. Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) was a German pedagogue, who is most widely known for establishing the kindergarten movement and for promoting child-centred learning. The use of instructional drama was appealing to many of his followers, as it chimed with their understanding of the need for experiential approaches to education. Nature study was particularly important to Froebel, and therefore this article evaluates instructional plays about the natural world, offering a close examination of five examples. They contain active, holistic and multi-sensory learning experiences which would have appealed to Froebelian teachers. They all use elements of anthropomorphism and some also use fairies to engage children with the subject matter. Such devices could be problematic in texts that were written for the purpose of teaching scientific realities and the representation of a human sensibility trapped in plant or animal form could sometimes result in emotionally distressing situations. However, the medium of drama gave children the power to make their own meaning from the material presented, perhaps through re-interpreting the plot with unscripted actions or through lightening the mood with a touch of humour. This was an advantage which the plays had over other forms of literature. These works merit increased respect as educational tools that supported innovative learning.
Springer. 233 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013. Tel: 800-777-4643; Tel: 212-460-1500; Fax: 212-348-4505; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (Great Britain)
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A