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248 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD
Then I set this girl to work at Froebel's weaving exercise
which consists in threading a roll of paper transversely through
vertical rods also of paper, feed at the top and the bottom. I was
led to think of the analogy between the two kinds of work, and was
greatly interested in my observations. When she had become
skilful in FroebeFs weaving I put her back to her sewing and was
pleased to see that she succeeded in executing the needlework.
I considered that the necessary movement of the hand had
been prepared for the sewing -without sewing, and that really it is
necessary to find out the way to teach before having it done.
Especially is this true when it is a question of preparing movements
which might be stimulated and also limited by repeated exercises,
outside the direct work for which they are preparing. In this way
it would be possible to be able to carry out the work when they
attack it, without having yet put a hand to it directly and to
Accomplish it perfectly at the first attempt.
I thought that this idea might usefully be applied to writing.
The thought interested me intensely and I wondered at its simpli-
city. I was surprised that I had not thought at first of the plan
which the observation of the girl who could not sew had sug-
gested to me.
Since I had made the children touch the outlines of the
geometrical figures, in the plane insets, there remained only to make
them trace with their fingers the shapes of the letters of the
I had made for me a splendid alphabet, the letters being in
the form of cursive script, the body of the writing 8 cms. high, the
rest in proportion. The letters were made of wood, J cm. thick,
in coloured enamel, red for the consonants and blue for the vowels,
except underneath where there was a very elegant brass cover fixed
by small studs. To correspond with the alphabet (of which there
was only one example) cards were made on which were painted
the letters of the alphabet in the same colours and of the same
size as the movable letters, and grouped according to contrasts and
similarities of shape.