Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Origami Lesson Plan for Kids: With Model Suggestions

I spent another afternoon teaching origami to grade schoolers yesterday at Crescent Heights Elementary. This was a first for me in one way, as I didn't have any of my own kids in the class. I knew the teacher because she had taught both of my older children, during which time I visited their classes.

Mine or not, it is always fun, and it seems every one of them takes some interest and pride in making the models. Given I have now done this so many times, I though I would share a very broad lesson plan. This is for a class of 25 students with one additional adult helper.


:05 minutes - introductions and getting to know each other a little

:10 minutes - Explain the history of origami. "Complete Origami, An A to Z of Facts and Folds" by Erik Kenneway can help prepare you, as well as a little web research. Make sure you explain your interest as well. My dad taught my class when I was in grade school and he became interested after spending three years stationed at Yakota Air Force Base in Japan.

:10 minutes - Show the different types of paper you can use included foil, patterned, makeshift and specialty paper. Talk about size of paper and how it creates different difficulty levels and effects the look of the completed models. You would be surprised at how fascinated they are be this. Most of them think of one type of paper and one approximate size.

:5 minutes - Show the different books and instruction resources they can find to learn how to fold, and how the instructions themselves are labeled. I also show them my two favorite books, A John Montroll one and one which my dad gave me from 1961. I also show "Origami by Design" by Lang pointing out specifically the math algoriths in Chapter 14.

:10 minutes Show and tell time. I present models I have folded and some that I have made art out of. I have them guess what the simple ones are supposed to be. Simple models sometimes only suggest what the model is and it can be fun to listen to the various interpretations. They also like the realism of the more complex models.

Notice that we are 40 to 45 minutes in and they haven't touched a piece of paper. It doesn't matter. If anything they are geared up to start folding and they have a little background to work from.

As my general rule, I come with four models in mind, broken down as follows.

:15 minutes A simple one that does not require accompanying folding instruction hand outs. It still needs to be cool enough that it is worth folding.

Recommended 1: A simple box or candy dish. Bring bite sized, wrapped candy to "test" the success of the models completion by throwing a few pieces in each. Make sure it is VERY simple to fold. I do a variation on the fortune teller (cootie catcher) that just about 3/4 of the kids already know how to make.

:20 Minutes Two progressively harder ones, that while still simple, introduce more difficult folding techniques and a simple base.

Recommended 2: A paper balloon or a tumbling toy. My favorite to do is the tumbling toy and I sometimes will do the third model as the paper balloon depending on the age.

Here is a link to the video instructions on how to do a tumbling toy.

:25 minutes
Recommended 3: The paper balloon or the crane.

:10 minutes I then make enough of a classic model such as a crane or an inflatable frog to hand out to everyone as a gift. All told about 2 hours of fun and while the kids still have plenty of energy you are likely to be just about spent.

I also like to leave enough paper behind that they have some to practice other models with.


On another note, here are a couple of recent models I have made.

The Starfish and the Seahorse from "Undersea Origami" by Lang and Montroll are now part of my window aquarium.

I made a baby with diaper for an artist friend whose wife is expecting. Very cool that he used the model in a promotional graphic for a grassroots civic art happening.


NineInchNachos said...

Nice. I like the window aquarium. fun idea!

Droid116 said...

I have been getting a lot of traffic to this post from Google searches that are looking for Origami lesson plans for kids.

If you do happen across this post, please share what works for you or what you need more of, either in this comments space or send to my email account. Thanks.

Rebeckyruth said...

I have been having my students (5th -8th) create their washi, or origami paper, by drawing on the squares before we begin. It is an easy way to introduce or reinforce the ideas of symmetry and repeating patterns.

I am going to make my own window aquarium this week. Thanks for the tip...

Droid116 said...

Your welcome. If you have any good suggestions for information on kids making their own washi paper I would love to have it.

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