Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Patty Smith Hill

Born this day in 1868: Patty Smith Hill (1868–1946), pioneering educator

Patty Smith Hill, a native of Anchorage, Kentucky, brought a progressive philosophy to kindergarten education. Her approach stressed creative play—deviating from the more rigid Froebel method popular at the time. She engaged both boys and girls in creative play that encouraged them to participate in activities typically reserved for one gender. Hill also promoted nursery school education, helping to organize the National Association for Nursery education in 1925. For 30 years she was a faculty member of Columbia University’s Teachers College and helped found Columbia’s Institute of Child Welfare Research. She developed large colorful blocks, known as “Patty Hill Blocks,” that were widely used for creative play in kindergartens across the nation. Also, she co-wrote, with her sister Mildred Hill, the tune for “Happy Birthday to You.” (They originally wrote the song as a classroom greeting song—“Good Morning to All.”)

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