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Discovering the amazing world of Frank Lloyd Wright's designs.

Frank Lloyd Wright for Kids: His Life and Ideas

Kathleen Thorne-Thomsen

Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Review Press, Inc. (1994).

ISBN: 978-1-55652-207-9 $16.95 USD


Design is one of the crucial elements humans possess that separates us from most other species on this planet. Unlike animals, human beings have the ability to create, execute, or construct numerous objects according to plans. Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) is one of the premier designers and architects of magnificent and unique structures in recent history. In the book Frank Lloyd Wright for Kids: His Life and Ideas, students can discover interesting facts about FLW and complete related enjoyable and creative design activities.

According to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation's website and numerous books written about him, Frank Lloyd Wright was named the greatest American architect of all time in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects. Born merely two years after the end of the American Civil War, Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was witness to the astonishing and rapid changes that swept the globe, altering the way humans perceived and approached the world of design and architecture. Unlike many of his peers, who accepted such deviations from the norm with uncertainty, Wright welcomed and embraced the many changes made possible by the Reconstruction and Industrial Revolution. He eagerly began an architectural revolution. Inspired by the American spirit, people's ingenuity, his own love of nature, and the opportunities in front of him, he set out to create structures unlike any others throughout the country or the world. His primary goal was to create an architecture that addressed the individual physical, social, end spiritual needs of the modern American citizen.

Twenty-five Wright projects, including the Florida Southern College campus (p. 24), have been designated National Historic Landmarks, and ten have been named to the tentative World Heritage Site list. Such recognition--In addition to the international honors he received during his lifetime, the dozens of major exhibitions that have been mounted, and the multitude of books and articles that have been written about his life and work--confirm Wright's critical contribution to architectural history and the architectural profession at the same time that we draw upon his legacy to find inspired design and architectural trends for the future.

To Wright, architecture was not just about the buildings he designed and built, it was about nurturing the lives of the people protected by them and sustaining the environment around them. What were needed were environments to Inspire and offer repose to the inhabitants. Wright was often quoted as calling his architecture "organic" and described his architectural masterpieces as the epitome of the "great living creative spirit, which from generation to generation, from age to age, proceeds, persists, creates, according to the nature of man and his circumstances as they both change." In the process of creating unique pieces of architecture across the United States and around the world, Frank Lloyd Wright transformed the way we live.

Wright's inspiration was found in Nature, which he spelled with a capital "N," giving it presence, personality, and life--as in a proper name or noun. Nature, as he called it, was not only the obvious features of the environment or natural surroundings, but the abundant unequalled spirit of it all in harmony. He wrote:

   Using this word Nature ... I do not of
   course mean that outward aspect
   which strikes the eye as a visual
   image of a scene strikes the ground
   glass of a camera, but that inner harmony
   which penetrates the outward
   form ... and is its determining character;
   that quality in the thing that is its
   significance and it's Life for us,--what
   Plato called (with reason, we see,
   psychological if not metaphysical) the
   "eternal idea of the thing."

Many people find inspiration in nature and imitate the way things occur naturally. This process is also known as blomimicry. Wright was a person inspired by nature and the land. He was fascinated by its form and function, and it gave him constant inspiration for his architecture. He believed that his architecture should become a part of nature's landscape, with all parts relating and contributing a union of furnishings, plantings, and works of art. As a result of his immersion and affinity for organic design, he created environments of carefully composed plans based on a consistent geometric syntax, while simultaneously and adeptly executing the incorporation of the building with the natural site through the compatibility of materials, form, and method of construction. Through simplification of form, line, and color, and through the "rhythmic play of pads, the poise and balance, the respect the forms pay to the materials, and the repose these qualities attain to," Wright created flexible, effortless, and rational spaces that continue to complement the constantly fluctuating needs of the people who occupy and utilize his architectural designs daily. Falling-water (p. 22) and the Guggenheim Museum (p. 23) are just two examples of his architectural masterpieces.

student introduction

Design is the ability to create, execute, or construct numerous objects according to plans (unlike animals). Designing beautiful, interesting, and unique buildings is one way people find inventive ways to protect themselves from natural elements and create shelter. Many people find inspiration in nature and imitate the way things occur naturally. This process of imitating nature is also known as biomimicry.

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright was a person inspired by nature and the land. He was fascinated by its form and function, and it gave him constant inspiration for his architecture. He believed that his architecture should become a part of nature's landscape, with all parts relating and contributing a union of furnishings, plantings, and works of art.

design brief

Suggested Grade Levels 4-6, Ages 10-12

teacher hints

* Have students research one or more of Frank Lloyd Wright's designs and buildings. They may need help while online trying to find good sources.

* Have students create a multimedia presentation about what they discover.

They also may need assistance in the creation of their presentations.

* Have students create models or paintings of one of FLW's designs.

* Make sure to brief the students on safety and teamwork procedures before working with modeling/painting materials, tools, and/or machines.

design brief objectives:

* Have students brainstorm about different Frank Lloyd Wright designs and discuss their similarities and differences.

* Review different FLW designs or buildings, multimedia basics, multimedia presentation techniques, proper computer usage and research methods, communication systems, and other techniques for creating their multimedia presentations.

* Demonstrate how to create a multimedia presentation using a variety of software and hardware.

* Demonstrate how to find the information on the World Wide Web.

* Share examples of other research-based multimedia presentations using suggested websites or personal examples.

* Compile the students' work about FLW and organize it into a school or web-based exhibit.

* Have the students create their own versions or scale models of some of FLW's buildings in 2-D or 3-D media.

* Frame and/or display the students' creations and ideas.


* Digital camera

* Software to download, edit, and/or share multimedia presentations

* Access to the Internet

* Printer

* Paper (copier paper, construction paper, or heavyweight watercolor paper)

* Colored pencils

* Markers

* Watercolor Paints

* Paintbrushes

* Projector

* Framing or matting materials (cardboard, wood, staples, matt board, etc.)

* Modeling materials (Legos, K'Nex, balsa wood, toothpicks, clay, Play-doh, etc.)

* Adhesives: tape, glue, etc.

additional enrichment activities

Biomimicry Activity

Have students create a class collection of natural objects representing different aspects of their community's environment. Have the students design buildings using the inspiration from the natural objects that they have found. For example, a student may bring in a seashell and then design a home or shelter resembling the shell's shape or color--finding inspiration in their object from nature. Record their collection using digital photography, compile the various objects using graphic communications and presentation software, send a copy home with each student, and send a copy home via email or post to a website.

The Fallingwater Activity

Have students research and examine the unique features of cantilevers and Wright's Fallingwater (p. 22) and then create their own model of the structure and surrounding environmental features, such as the waterfalls, stones, trees, and ground cover.

Map Advanced Activity

If students show more interest in the mapping activity, they can do additional research about where Wright's buildings are located and create a map based on their locations throughout the country and the world. They can also learn the different items that go along with a map such as a key, scale, and directions.

Teacher Hints

Students should be encouraged to think and discover information on their own. But occasionally they may need a little help or encouragement if they encounter difficulties or cannot find what they want. Use the suggested websites to help students find information and gather ideas.

Research and Reading Extensions

Students can use the library or online sources to research more about Frank Lloyd Wright and architecture in general.

resources and suggested sites

A Virtual Look at Frank Lloyd Wright's Works:

Biomimicry Institute:


Finding Mr. Wright:

Frank Lloyd Wright Biography:

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation's Website: www.franklloywright/iowa/home/index.html

Frank Lloyd Wright: PBS Film and Website:

Frank Lloyd Wright: PBS Teaching and Research Resources:

Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust:

InformeDesign Newsletter about Learning from Nature: www.informedesign.or/news/apr_v02-p.pdf

Janine Benyus Interview: What is Biomimicry? about-us/what-is-biomimicry.html

Mother Nature Network: 7 Examples of Biomimicry: exmples-of-biomimicry/ copying-mother-nature

Laura Hummell, DTE teaches technology education teacher preparation at California University of Pennsylvania. Her email is
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Title Annotation:department: books to briefs
Author:Hummell, Laura
Publication:Children's Technology and Engineering
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2013
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