Origami in the Classroom – Hands-On How-To

Good educators are those who engage a number of different learning styles. Visual, kinesthetic, and auditory are among the most commonly discussed of these, though philosophers of pedagogy recognize dozens more. Lesson plans that appeal to multiple styles at once not only boost classroom engagement, but also increase performance and rates of transfer.

Bringing origami into the classroom is one of my favorite teaching strategies to involve multiple intelligences for students in grades three and up. It has some fairly obvious applications in mathematics; fractions and geometry lend themselves well. But origami can be used to illustrate other concepts, as well.

As with mathematics, science teachers don’t have to stretch their imaginations too far to see how to fit this strategy into their classroom activities. By folding or designing a variety of models, students can explore aerodynamics, velocity, motion and volume. For younger students, origami animals are an engaging way to teach the basics of environmental science (habitat, food webs, etc.).

Where it comes to language and visual arts, folding origami can invite discussions of pictorial representation and symbolism. Lessons that include origami put geography, social studies, and world history into students’ hands.

Using origami as a teaching tool comes with other benefits, too. Coordination, concentration, an ability to follow directions, and communication skills (seriously, ask students to give each other instructions for folding a simple piece of origami using only words and then see what happens) improve when students practice origami in the classroom.

Now here’s a challenge for you. Check out this set of illustrated instructions from Kids Web Japan and brainstorm how to fit this origami project into your next lesson plan. Leave a comment with your favorite ideas and success stories!

Origami Jumping Frog

1. Fold the paper in half sideways to make a rectangle.

2. Fold the corners down and unfold them right away, repeating this for both top corners of your rectangle.

3.  Flip the paper over and fold the top of the paper down at the spot where the diagonal creases meet. Unfold right away.

4.  Flip over once again, and fold the two edges toward you so they meet each other. The top of your rectangle will fold down to form a triangle.

5.  Fold the bottom of the paper up so that its edge meets the bottom of your triangle. Fold the two corners of the triangle up to form the “front legs” of the frog.

6.  Fold the sides inward to meet at the center.

7.  Fold the bottom of the paper upward so its edge touches the bottom of the “legs,” and unfold right away.

8. Insert your fingers into the inside of the flaps, and pull the bottom corners outward to the sides, so that the bottom edge comes up to touch the bottom of the “legs.”

9. Fold the corners down so they meet at the bottom of the figure.

10.  Fold the bottom corners outward to form the “back legs” of the frog.

11. Create a zigzag fold at the bottom of the figure, folding the bottom half up and then the bottom quarter back down.

12.  Your frog is ready to go.

Press its back and release to make it hop!

Fiona Mayberry is a retired teacher, occasionally substituting for some of her old classes while she pursues some of her lifelong ambitions of authoring a book and growing a garden. She maintains her daily writing practice by blogging for Teaching Degree Link, an online resource for those interested in pursuing a teaching career.

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