Monthly Archives: December 2007

teaching origami


We started the month with the snowflakes which had to be folded in a certain way to achieve the desired result- a simple 3 fold process. Last week we moved on to a slightly complicated fold creating a 3 dimensional paper object. Our idea grew out of a desire to have the kids build on their folding skills toward perhaps folding a crane when reading the book, “Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes” later in the year. We decided to add a recycling element to the lesson and cut out 300 8″ squares from magazines using a paper cutter. This would be our “origami” paper.
We taught the folding step by step and didn’t move on until everyone was on the same step. We then had them continue to fold as many as they could and we wandered the room giving additional help. When each student had 4-6 pieces folded we broke them into three groups and had them work together to create a large 3-D wall piece on black paper, arranging the small folded objects as they saw fit and glued them to the background paper. One group worked really quickly, deciding as a group how they wanted to arrange the pieces while the other two groups struggled a bit more until a leader emerged and brought the group to consensus. A difficult task for 4th graders as we discovered. But they really really liked the folding! (didn’t get photos of this project) The magazine paper folds great- was great for practice and cheap too!

This week, Penny and I made a special trip to a shop in Little Tokyo while visiting both MOCA & JANM
(saw the Murakami exhibit and attended a shibori workshop respectively) to purchase special two sided origami paper for the class. We wanted to teach them how to make a small decorative box that perhaps they could give as a gift or use to put a small gift or picture inside. This piece was a little more complicated and begins with the Yakko Base which is the starting point of many origami designs including the crane. After two weeks of folding they were ready to try folding with real origami paper! The two sided paper gives a nice result and the kids couldn’t stop making them. We gave them each some extra sheets to take home and teach someone in their family how to fold origami. We suggested they check out an origami book at the library or perhaps put origami on their holiday wishlist.

Some of the things the kids learned:

the first folds are REALLY important!
you MUST listen and watch the instructions for it to turn out correctly
the meaning of symmetry
how to help your neighbor catch up to the class
how to read origami instructions from a book(we copied a page from my book-bad me!)
how to make a clean sharp fold
mountain fold
valley fold

some of the things we learned:
kids LOVE origami
how to teach 30 kids origami in an hour! we have it DOWN!

For more inspiration, you might like to visit origamidennis’ flickr site and his website- origami database.

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snow in the air


With a little help from another VIP and my 8th grade afternoon assistant Samira, we got the snowflakes laminated, cut and strung (about 60). Penny and I took them into the classroom after school and hung them all over the desks with monofilament. This photo doesn’t do it justice (took it with my iphone with all the chairs up on the desks so the janitor could sweep) but the effect is what we were after. Clear snowflakes suspended in the air that twist and turn over their heads with a slight breeze provided by the overhead ceiling fans. I would have loved to see them walk into the classroom and discover the “blizzard”!

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snow day

Here in So Cal we don’t get snow days so we decided to have one of our own making on this Monday in the 4th grade classroom.
We started out by looking over and talking about some of the landscapes that were painted last week as well as the painting project from the week before. We like to review what we did and give the kids a chance to tell us what they learned, what they liked and what they didn’t like about the lessons we are presenting. One of the room parents took the painting projects and put them through the laminating machine and now they can be used as placemats.
Penny brought in a book on snowflakes and showed the class how they were all different and each snowflake’s water molecules form ice crystals into a hexagonal lattice shape.
First, we showed them how to fold the paper and then explained how to cut the paper, being careful not to cut all the way across. After the first one, they got a bit more experimental and started to really have fun with it. You can see a few more photos here.
We also got them thinking on how to display the snowflakes. After a brief discussion, we agreed to laminate them and cut them out in circles, string them up with transparent line and hang them over their heads in the classroom from the ceiling at varying heights, leaving them free to twist and turn . Kind of like their own personal blizzard. We have about 75 or so to hang. Can’t wait to see the “installation”!


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