We were walking leisurely through the fields of the Wonderopolis farm the other day when we came upon the barn and caught a snippet of three little pigs having the following conversation:

Little Pig #1:     Hey! I was thinking about building a house. Any ideas of what I should use?

Little Pig #2:     Well, you could use straw. Hee hee

Little Pig #3:     Yeah! Yeah! Or sticks. Yeah, use sticks! Ha ha ha!

Little Pig #1:     What’s so funny? Am I missing something here?

Little Pig #2:     Are you serious?

Little Pig #3:     Yeah, please tell us you’re joking!

Little Pig #1:     I don’t get it. Would someone please tell me what’s so funny?

Little Pig #2:     Um…doesn’t this conversation remind you of a familiar story?

Little Pig #3:     Yeah, you know, with three little pigs and a Big Bad Wolf?

Little Pig #1:     You mean that story’s true? Yikes! I guess I should use bricks then.

Little Pig #2:     Of course, it’s true. And, yes, you should definitely use bricks.

Little Pig #3:     The hardware store over on Route 7 has them on sale this week…

Little Pig #1:     Thanks for the advice! (wanders off)

Little Pig #2:     You’re welcome. (shakes head)

Little Pig #3:     That dude is totally going to be bacon by the end of the week!

We don’t know about you, but we hope that Little Pig #1 heeds the advice of the other two little pigs. Building a house of straw or sticks just isn’t the smart thing to do when bricks are available!

The first human beings probably used wood and stone to build the first structures. However, using bricks probably wasn’t far behind. Scientists know that bricks were made long before written history. And they’re still very popular today, thousands upon thousands of years later.

The main ingredient in bricks is clay, which comes from the ground. Clay results from the break-up of rock over time. Weather, chemical reactions, volcanoes and even glaciers can grind rock into a fine powdery earth called clay over long periods of time.

When it is wet, clay can be shaped easily by hand. Early clay bricks were probably made by shaping the clay into a suitable shape for a building block and then allowing it to dry in the sun.

Today, bricks are mainly made by machines. Clay is pressed into a mold and then baked at over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit until the brick is very hard. Bricks are often made by creating large columns that are subsequently cut into smaller individual bricks. A large brick factory in England can produce as many as 16 million bricks in a single week!

Many bricks are naturally red in color because of the presence of iron in the clay used to make them. Bricks of different colors can be made by adding other substances to the clay before baking them.

So why is brick such a great building material? Not only can it withstand the huffs and puffs of the Big Bad Wolf, but it’s also basically maintenance free. Over long periods of time, it doesn’t break, rot or need to be painted. Bricks also will not be eaten by termites or other insects that might otherwise feast on a house made of straw or sticks.

Why is brick so strong? When fired at extremely high temperatures, the clay particles fuse together to form a super-strong bond that makes clay bricks into metamorphic rocks. Clay bricks are stronger than concrete and many other building materials.

When combined in an interlocking pattern with other bricks and held together by a cement called mortar, bricks make sturdy structures that can survive for hundreds, if not thousands, of years with very little maintenance. For example, the Great Wall of China was built over two thousand years ago with nearly 4 billion bricks!

54 Join the Discussion

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    • We’re so glad you enjoyed today’s building Wonder, Mrs. Reasor’s Class! WOHOO! We Wonder how long it takes to complete your 5,000 piece puzzle! We bet teamwork is really important when it comes to doing a puzzle that large! Thanks for WONDERing with us today- you ROCK! :)

  1. Thoughts: We liked the script written for the 3 Little Pigs. It made us laugh. We’re wondering how long it would take to make 4 brick houses? Starting the “Did you know” with a short play really intrigued us. It was a neat way to get us engaged in the text. We’re a little worried about pig #1.

    Predictions: How do stars fall? What are puzzles made of? How big is the biggest puzzle? How many pieces of gold are left in the world? How did puzzles get their name? How many minerals are in a rock? Who invented puzzles? What is the most complicated puzzles? How many materials are needed to make a house? How does glass break? How do you put together a puzzle (solving a problem)? How long did it take to create The Great Wall of China?

    • We’re so happy our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Hess’ Class are smiling with us today! HOORAY! We Wonder if you can find a family member, friend or neighbor who is involved with building houses. We bet they can help you figure out how long it would take to build four brick houses! :)

      We can’t wait for tomorrow’s Wonder… we’re oh-so-curious! :)

  2. We really liked reading the script as a class. We think it is cool that the village is getting new houses. Some of the students in our class lived in houses made from sticks and rocks, when they lived in Africa.

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about 5,000 pieces of puzzles, 5,000 bricks.

    • WOW, we’re so happy that some of our Wonder Friends in Ms. Bayko’s Class can share the different houses they’ve lived in- how cool! We think your trip to Africa sounds very interesting… we Wonder how long you were there and what you did?

      Thanks for sharing your awesome guesses – tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day® is puzzling us! :)

  3. Good morning, Wonderopolis! Thank you for teaching us all about bricks! We know brick houses are very popular because may of us live in houses that have bricks on them. We had no idea bricks were made out of clay! How cool! See ya tomorrow! :-)

    • Good morning, Wonder Friends in Miss Hobson’s Class! Thanks for WONDERing with us today– we’re oh-so-happy you learned something new with us! Have a terrific Tuesday, keep up the WONDERing! :)

  4. We just read a story about a little chameleon who lived under an adobe house. This was a neat way to show what adobe was like and how clay is made in nature.

    • What a great story, we are so glad you could make a connection to today’s Wonder, Mrs. Owlett’s Class! Nice work! Thanks for sharing your comment and telling us about what you’re reading in class! We are so glad you’re here today! :)

  5. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We enjoyed reading today’s wonder, we had students read the parts.

    We think tomorrow will be about puzzles, wood chips, or even legos.

    Thanks for the wonders,
    Mrs. Tillman’s 4th graders

    • That sounds like a great way to Wonder– nice work, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Tillman’s 4th grade class! Thanks for visiting us today and telling us about your terrific guesses! We can’t wait for tomorrow’s Wonder… but we’ve got another Wonder for you in the meantime!

      You mentioned LEGO blocks! Wonder #630– Who Invented LEGO® Blocks? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/who-invented-lego-blocks/ :)

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Rissa! We’ve included an excerpt from today’s Wonder to help you answer your question:

      “The main ingredient in bricks is clay, which comes from the ground. Clay results from the break-up of rock over time. Weather, chemical reactions, volcanoes and even glaciers can grind rock into a fine powdery earth called clay over long periods of time.

      When it is wet, clay can be shaped easily by hand. Early clay bricks were probably made by shaping the clay into a suitable shape for a building block and then allowing it to dry in the sun.

      Today, bricks are mainly made by machines. Clay is pressed into a mold and then baked at over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit until the brick is very hard. Bricks are often made by creating large columns that are subsequently cut into smaller individual bricks. A large brick factory in England can produce as many as 16 million bricks in a single week!” :)

  6. Hello Wonderopolis! We were very interested in reading about today’s wonder of bricks. One student pointed out that gravity must really help to keep the bricks pulled to the ground. Also, we were interested to know how the bricks get their color. This sparked another great conversation about rocks. Thank you for your wonder today.

    • We’re so excited that you’re doing some more WONDERing today, Mrs. Kahler’s 2nd Grade Class! NICE WORK! We like that you connected our brick Wonder and the science of gravity– COOL! If you’ve ever seen clay, you might recognize the color! After baking in the sun, bricks would have a reddish-brown color to them… a sign that they were no longer clay, but sturdy, solid bricks! :)

  7. Dear Wonderopolis,
    You really hooked us today with your snippet of the three pigs! We learned that bricks were made of clay.
    McKinley was wondering why do some bricks have the three holes in them?
    We love your website!

    • We’re so glad to know that our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Roberts’ class are here today! The bricks we three holes are used specifically for building. Perhaps you’ve seen these used when a patio or house is being built. The holes help to fire the bricks evenly, so they are ideas for stacking! Thanks for sharing your comments! We LOVE WONDERing with you! :)

  8. I love today’s Wonder and every Wonder!

    My predictions for tomorrow’s Wonder: puzzles, The Statue of Liberty (the Statue of Liberty came from France in a bunch of pieces.)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Rebecca! Thanks for sharing your Wonderopolis love today! :) Thanks for telling us what you already know about the Statue of Liberty! HOW COOL! :)

  9. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We found it funny to listen to the pigs conversation. We didn’t know that bricks are so strong!

    We think tomorrow will be about a puzzle, legos, or even the pieces left after an earthquake.

    Thank you for the wonders,
    Mrs. Witkowski’s 4th graders

    • We’re so happy you enjoyed today’s strong Wonder, Mrs. Witkowski’s 4th grade class! We will look at brick houses differently from now on! Thanks for sharing what you learned today, and telling us about your awesome guesses, too! Thanks for being awesome Wonder Friends! :)

  10. Thank you for teaching us about bricks. Our prediction for tomorrow’s wonder of the day is about glass, since bricks are made of clay and glass is made of sand.

    • Thanks for sharing your comment with us today, Wonder Friends in Miss Peltier’s Class! We are so glad you learned something new at Wonderopolis! We love your guess for tomorrow- and your thought process, too! :)

    • Hey Lucien, thanks for WONDERing with us today! We learned today that bricks are made of clay– check out the Wonder article today and you can learn about how those bricks are made! Tell your Wonder Classmates in Miss Cornies’ class hello from all of us at Wonderopolis!

  11. Hey I am in Mrs. Hess’ class. And I wonder how do they do not break when first hitting. Tomorrow I think it is the Wall of China.

    • Hey there, Young Brezz! Thanks for sharing your comment with us today! The bricks are very strong, which is why they are used for building grand structures, like houses! We’re so glad you visited us today, thanks for sharing your guess for tomorrow! :)

  12. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Our class thought the script with the 3 little pigs was funny. We learned bricks are made at 1000 degrees Farenheit. We learned that bricks are made out of clay. We think tomorrow’s wonder is about puzzles or maybe the Titanic.

    • We’re glad today’s Wonder had you laughing, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Chevalier’s Class! Thank you for sharing what you learned today, and your awesome guesses for tomorrow’s Wonder, too! HOORAY for you! :)

  13. Hi Wonderopolis,
    We wouldn’t want to live in those grass huts. We were glad to hear that people are trying to raise money so their houses can be made out of bricks. We were surprised to find out it took 4 billion bricks to build the Wall of China! Wow! It was very clever how you used the Three Little Pigs to teach us about bricks.
    The PinkPanthers

    Predictions about tomorrow’s wonder: puzzles, legos, bones, people or pieces of music.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts about today’s Wonder, PinkPanthers! We are glad we could Wonder about different types of houses, that way we can imagine ourselves living in different environments. It helps us think of all the different ways people live their lives! Thanks for visiting us today, and sharing your SUPER guesses! We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be! :)

  14. Hi I am in Mrs. Robert’s class. If brick is made out of clay then isn’t clay supposed to be hard or is just that when brick was made out of clay the clay just dried up?

    • Hey there, Crystal! We’re glad you learned that brick is made from clay, but it takes a lot of heat to make a brick nice and hard! Clay becomes brick when it’s formed and fired up at 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit! WOWZA! :)

    • Great work, Wonder Friend Nikolas! We’re so excited that you shared what you learned today! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

  15. So what color of clay do you need? Can you use purple or blue clay and leave it in a hot place were it is 1,000 degrees fahrenheit!? Cool! :]

    • Hey there, Crystal! Clay comes in many colors, you may have worked with clay for an art project or two! We think it would be cool to make different colored bricks- if you build something it would be a work of art! :)

  16. dear wonderopolis

    I’m nine I’m in Mrs. Roberts’
    class I thought that it was neat to see a little joke thing before the explanation.

    I think tomorrow’s wonder will be how soil is made.

    • Hey there, Little Miss Christmas! Thanks for telling us what your favorite part of today’s Wonder is! We’re glad you have been learning something new while smiling, too! Thanks for visiting us today! :)

  17. Dear wonderoplis,

    I loved today’s wonder it really made me wonder. But wonderopolis I’m still wondering what if no one invented clay what will happen would someone still invent clay or would there be no bricks?
    I’m in Mrs. Roberts’ class
    Love, Chloe

    • Thanks for sharing your comment with us, Chloe! We’re glad our brick Wonder helped you come up with even MORE questions! Nice work! We bet that if clay hadn’t been invented, or found, thousands of years ago, the people of ancient times would have used other elements. Think about those who live in different environments– we all use what is around us! :)

  18. I feel so bad for the people that have small houses I would love to help them. I hope they get better houses for their family. The video almost made me cry because how they made some sad faces. By the way Mrs. Hess is my teacher, she loves wonderopolis.

    • Hey there, Carlos, we think you’re doing a great job of sharing how you feel! It’s very generous of you to tell us that you’re going to help those less fortunate! Way to make a difference in the world, Wonder Friend! We are so happy that you and your classmates from Mrs. Hess’ room visit us so often! :)

    • What a great connection to our house Wonder, Blakeleigh! We LOVE WONDERing with you, it’s so much fun to learn something new with a smile on our faces! Thanks for sharing your comment! :)

    • That’s great Wonder Friend F! We are glad you shared your comment and learned all about the strength of bricks! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Why are brick houses so strong?
  • What are bricks made of?
  • How strong are bricks?

Wonder Gallery

856Vimeo Video

Try It Out

By now, you know you should never build your house with straw or sticks. What should you use? Bricks! Grab a friend or family member and work together on one or more of the following activities:

  • You’ve probably seen many bricks in your lifetime, but have you ever really taken an up-close look at them? Do it now! Take a walking field trip around your town or neighborhood. You probably won’t have to walk long before finding buildings made of brick. With permission, check out the bricks. How do they feel? What color are they? Do you see any signs of wear? What patterns do they form? Feel free to talk with people about how they feel about their brick homes. Do they have to do much maintenance on them?
  • Continue your walking field trip around your neighborhood, but throw some math into the mix. Use a pencil and paper to record the types of building materials used in the homes in your area. Keep track of how many of each type of home you see. Materials might include brick, vinyl or aluminum siding, wood and stone.Once you have a small sample (10-20 homes), create a graph that shows each type of building material and how many homes use each. Which type of material is most popular? Discuss your findings with your parents. Does where you live factor into the type of building materials used? Why do you think certain materials are more popular than others in your neighborhood? This information would be helpful to realtors and home inpsectors in their work. Can you think of other occupations that would find this information useful?
  • Got some dirt, sand, grass, weeds, straw, flour, water and/or play dough? If so, you can make your own bricks at home! Jump online to check out How To Make a Brick. You’ll find instructions for two different types of bricks. Make them both if you’re up for it! What might you use your bricks to build? After you’re finished, discuss the project with your parents. Do you have a new appreciation for the people who make their own bricks by hand?

Still Wondering

In National Geographic Education’s The Three Little Pigs in Earthquake Land lesson, children are introduced to some of the basics of earthquakes and volcanoes. They are also asked to think about how people living in cities and suburbs must plan ahead by constructing sturdy buildings and preparing their homes and themselves for the possibility of a natural disaster. Children are thus introduced to some basic concepts of physical geography, as well as some of the ways in which the physical environment affects people’s lives.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day might come in 5,000 pieces!

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