Childhood Blocks and Nature – Frank Lloyd Wright

I will never forget my first visit to the Children’s Museum in Philadelphia back in the 80’s.  It’s called The Please Touch Museum and it’s a wonderful, hands-on museum.  But, it wasn’t the typical fare of a great children’s museum that caught my eye.

It was the collection of Frank Lloyd Wright’s childhood blocks.  He attributed his interest in architecture and building to his childhood blocks.

Of course he did!

I think this was the first time I realized what happens in childhood, in my classroom,  has a marked impact on what happens in adulthood.  I knew what I did for children would be incredibly important.

This year I have a classroom of builders.  The simple maple wood blocks that Wright used as a child are the most popular item in my class.  Legos are a close second, but blocks are #1.  Thank goodness!

And, there’s more.  my class loves nature.  Frank Lloyd Wright did, too.  His architecture was built into nature, as if the two were meant to live together in harmony.  Well, he was right.

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.  It will never fail you.”  ~Frank Lloyd Wright~

My children love to find beetles, pick buttercups, plant in the garden, watch birds, and dig for worms.  They still admire the Wish Tree now that leaves are growing around their wishes.  Somehow I find it deeply satisfying to know that they are both builders and nature lovers.  I think Frank Lloyd Wright would, too.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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52 Responses to Childhood Blocks and Nature – Frank Lloyd Wright

  1. beetleypete says:

    Combining architecture into natural surroundings should be the primary goal of house building companies. Sadly, they mostly destroy nature to build identical houses on soulless estates that look the same all over Britain.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. beth says:

    All of this is such important work in early childhood

  3. Dan Antion says:

    Building with blocks is so important, Jennie. Even if they have no interest in architecture, the fact that they learn that big things can be made from smaller things is critical to so many of the things they might want to do some day. I’m glad you expose them to building and nature.

  4. Your children are fortunate to have teachers and a classroom that fosters creativity and a close relationship with the natural world.

  5. This reminded me of the Simon & Garfunkle song ‘So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright’
    “Architects may come, and architects may go
    And never change your point of view
    When I run dry
    I’ll stop awhile and think of you”
    wonderful post Jennie.

  6. Love Alone says:

    Reblogged this on Love & Love Alone.

  7. quiall says:

    I think he would be proud of you, their nurturer.

  8. willedare says:

    Hurrah for all that you do and share with these smaller human beings!!!

  9. A. L. Kaplan says:

    I spent many hours playing with my blocks. Still have them.

  10. I love that the simple building blocks are the children’s favorite items in the classroom. Here’s to the power of children’s imaginative play!

  11. I think he’d love your classroom and what you’re teaching your kids.

  12. Don Ostertag says:

    I find it cool that the little ones favor the wood blocks over the plastic. Must be so much fun watching them create.

    • Jennie says:

      I feel the same way. Some things never change, like children gravitating to what they can use to be creative, wood blocks. Honestly, watching them build huge complex structures out of simple blocks always amazes me. It is fun!

  13. John Kraft says:

    There’s a great children’s museum here in Terre Haute that engages kids beautifully.

  14. Darlene says:

    Creativity starts when children are very young and given tools. Antoni Gaudi also loved nature as a child and his creations reflect that early love. You do a great job of giving children the tools they need. xo

  15. Yes, he would Jennie

  16. Ritu says:

    This. This is everything!

  17. Nature–the great learning field for kids of all ages! ❤ We're all life-long learners… xo

  18. petespringerauthor says:

    Another post right on the money, Jennie. I had various types of building blocks in my classroom. When rainy day recesses happened, I always had a fair amount of boys and a few girls (even in 3rd grade) who still liked to build and use their imaginations to create the most elaborate structures.

  19. Nature and building are both great things.

  20. You are educating future scientists, Jennie! 🙂 Its understandable they are loving the wooden blocks more than Lego. The blocks allow them to be more creative, without paying attention to the knobs. 😉 Have a beautiful weekend, and enjoy the sun we hopefully will also get soon. 😉 Michael

  21. Norah says:

    I think he would, Jennie. Lovely post.

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