2022 Summer Block Champion
Nancy Shultz, Founder and Executive Director of the Galveston Children’s Museum
Imagination Playground is overjoyed to announce our Summer 2022 Block Champion – Nancy Shultz, Founder and Executive Director of the Galveston Children’s Museum in Galveston, Texas! Originally learning of the iconic Blue Blocks from Imagination Playground’s annual sponsorship of ACM’s Interactivity Conference, Nancy was instantly intrigued. After the conference, the Big Blue Blocks were put on the beginning plans for the museum. The community, and Nancy herself, were thrilled when they received a grant from a local foundation to purchase the Blue Blocks within their first year of opening!
Before founding the museum, Nancy spent almost thirty years in a classroom setting, followed by a decade of running summer camps at a local university. Through those experiences, Nancy realized that children desperately need to “mess with things” in an informal setting for cognitive and physical development. However, she also understood that schools tend to be structured in their schedules with a sequential pattern of telling children how and when to start and finish activities, and so she began a mission to create a space where children can be imaginative and not have to go about play “the right way.” Today, the Galveston Children’s Museum has been serving children for over eight years and is located inside a historic mansion, surrounded by beautiful grounds. The Big Blue Blocks remain outside for largescale loose-part play, while the smaller sized Blocks travel between their outdoor and indoor spaces dependent on what they are being used for.
“The Blue Blocks are great for team building. When we have camps over the summer and winter breaks, and even when we just have some free time, it is great to come together to build and create with the Blocks and work on some of those skills, like teamwork!”
Nancy says her favorite part of the Blue Blocks is the fact that they’re “quirky” and so open-ended. There are no right or wrong ways to connect or stack, and it is up to the children on what they want to accomplish with their build. She went on to say that she has tried to check out similar loose-part products, but that the Blue Blocks are “the most versatile and durable, while being the most lightweight, so even young toddlers can manipulate and build with them.”
Some favorite Blue Block activities at the museum include playing the floor is lava, jumping from Block to Block and building creative, comfortable seating options. During team building exercises, Nancy said they will encourage challenges with abstract prompts, such as build a plant or something that can fly. She said she loves to watch as the gears turn in their heads and they go through the process of trial and error, and then the joy and accomplishment when they have finished.
When asked what she would tell another museum that was considering the Blue Blocks, Nancy said “These MAKE our outdoor space- they’re durable, extremely versatile, and we wash them up about twice a year and they still look great after eight years of staying outside. Whole families will enjoy and explore with the Blue Blocks. Toddlers will play with them, teens and tweens will, whole family units come to build together. They are a wonderful investment that last for years and the longevity of the Blue Block is incredible!”
So, if you find yourself near the Galveston Children’s Museum in Texas, be sure to stop by to tell Nancy and the Blue Blocks hello!