Arts in Education · folding

Swing Card for Fifth Graders

elebration Swing Card, condensed
Celebration Swing Card, condensed

I recently spent a short amount of time with a fifth grade class. I wanted to create something dynamic and memorable with them. I knew I’d be meeting with these students during their social studies time, so it made sense to do something that would reference what they’ve been studying in class, which has been the United State Constitution. My thought was to created a moveable card, not exactly a pop-up, that would, hopefully, delight these kids, but that would be pretty straightforward to assemble.

I decided that it would be fitting that the theme of the card would be a Fourth of July Celebration card, celebrating an amendment to the Constitution that the students themselves chose to highlight.

Celebration Swing Card, expanded
Celebration Swing Card, expanded

When you pull the sides of the card out the paper expands and the middle section flips.

It looks like WordPress is going to let me embed a little video of the movement of the card. This is a new feature here in WordPress? If this video doesn’t play for you, let me know. This is the first time I’ve tried to embed a video that isn’t linked to YouTube.

This project may seem, tricky to decipher at first, but it’s actually super simple to construct. It’s something I’ve been meaning to try out for quite a while. I got the template from this book by Trish Witkowski , who is one of my paper-folding heroes. She is one of those people who makes the whole world feel better to me because she’s in it.

I needed to modify Trish’s template to use with my fifth graders, to make it fit on standard copy paper.

Swinging Card Teimplate,
Swinging Card Template, Click here for the PDF

The students just needed to score the dotted lines, cut the solid lines, then fold the scored lines like a zig-zag. The cut-out in the middle swings freely.

If none of that made sense to you, just try it out. You’ll see.

Scoring on the dotted lines
Scoring on the dotted lines

First step is to score the dotted lines. Scoring means to press the lines, not cut them or draw on them, but, instead, to press into the paper. An empty ink pen works well for this. I showed the students that they needed to put a soft surface under the card, so that there’s something soft to press into.

Cutting on the solid line
Cutting on the solid line

Cutting on the solid line was a bit tricky, since there’s no way to start the cut from the edge of the paper. At home I use a craft knife (razor blade) but, obviously, can’t hand out razor blades in schools. Instead, the students curled the paper, made a snip on the curve….

Continuing the cut
Continuing the cut

…then uncurled the paper and continued cutting. Watching these students, who were doing a great job, it was obvious to me that these kids don’t cut with scissors much, so I was doubly happy to be doing this project with them.

In progress
In progress

I think you can make out the zig-zag folding in the photo above.

The students seemed to really like this project. It was fun for me to see that they were super surprised and delighted at how the scoring helped to make the folds fold so easily.

Since we had so little time, I showed them a quick cut paper design method. I call it an exploding paper strip. I give them a paper strip, ask them to a bunch of glue on the back, then they make snips and lay the pieces down in the order they were cut, leaving a little space between the pieces that were cut apart.

Swinger Card Celebrating the Constitution

One last detail: I asked the students to write something personal, something about their own thinking as to why they chose a specific amendment to celebrate.

His Favorite Amendment
His Favorite Amendment

The lines and dotted lines were printed on cover weight (67lb) paper. The writing here is printed on a contrasting color, regular copy weight paper (22lb).

Fun project!

 

 

a

folding · How-to

The Paper Spring in the Classroom

Teaching kids how to make a paper spring is always thrilling. Children ooh and ahh, and practically jump out of their seats when I show them what we’ll be making.

The only problem has been is that it takes up a big chunk of my teaching time, as only about 55% of the students (who are usually 6-8 years old) in the classes I teach are able to make paper springs without extra help.

I’ve been teaching kids how to make paper springs for probably 20 years. Have shown it to thousands of students. We usually glue something to the top of it it, like a cut-out of their hand, to give the books we are making another dimensional element.

About a year ago, driving to another of my itinerant teaching-artist jobs, I was stressing over the fact that, due to time constraints I needed to cut something from my agenda . Realized the paper spring was going to have to be eliminated…unless…unless I could figure out how to get all of the kids to do make it without any extra help.

A caterpillar of paper springs
A caterpillar of paper springs

The way I’ve been teaching it is to glue two paper strips together to form a right angle, then alternate folding the strips on top on each until the papers fold down into a square. It’s easy to teach this method to adults, but kids keep folding in front then wrapping behind, which sabotages their springs.

 

 

Notice the corner is like a square, Draw a happy face on the square.

What if I ask students to fold the other way, to fold it below the glued corner, rather than above it? And to keep them from folding forward, draw a happy face which they are told should not be covered up?

Really, no one wants to cover up a happy face.

So I tried it out. Asked the students to alternate colors folding behind the happy face, said what we wanted to end up with is a little square.

Almost done

Couldn’t believe how well this went when I first tried it out. There is still a bit a confusion that happens when they see these flaps at the end.  I probably should say to cut off these pieces, but…

Last step

…these flaps can be  folded back too, then secured with a bit of glue.

This method of teaching has worked out for me unbelievably well. Unbelievable, even to me. Students have been nearly 100% successful in class after class.  So exciting to have discovered this way of teaching the paper spring.

Here’s a video:

 

folding · Paper Toy

Six-fold, flat-fold, Paper-fold

Paper Folding the Ferozkah Jaali
Paper Folding the Ferozkah Jaali

I found a fold.

If paperfolding graps your attention, prepare to be overwhelmed.  There’s three things to unpack here: the fold, the pattern on the fold, and how they interact.

I had been wondering if I could fold a tetrahedron out of a rectangle.

Tetrahedrons and other shapes
tetrahedrons and other shapes

Turns out, yes. I can make a tetrahedron with a square base or a triangular base out of the same piece of paper using the same folds in different ways.

Looks like a fish
Looks like a fish

Then I started seeing that I could make other shapes out of the same pieces of paper using the same folds differently.

Some shapes are flat, others are dimensional.

I’ve been playing with these all week, and I am still finding different shapes that these folds create.

 

I’ve also been drawing this six-fold pattern from Islamic Geometry called the Ferozkoh Jaali. It occurred to me that it would go perfectly with the folds I was making.

detail of Ferozkah Jaali
detail of Ferozkah Jaali

 

This is just a small portion of the pattern. I’ve been coloring copies of these in all week, trying to get to know the shapes.

Here’s the fold that I’m using:

 

Mountain and Valley folds
Mountain and Valley folds

It’s four mountain folds (diagonals) and two valley folds (horizontal and vertical) that are created around equilateral triangles. Oh, and there’s a slice in the middle. One horizontal slice.

Now here’s the first wonderful thing about using this image with my folds:

No matter how you use the creases (which are around the equilateral triangles) , the pattern lines up. In the photo above, a corner is peeking through that slice in the paper, and, look, the pattern lines up.

Equilateral triangle(s)
Equilateral triangle(s)

I printed the design on the fronts and backs of my papers, and look, when the paper wraps around itself, the pattern lines up.

Now there is one more thing to mention. Hold on to your seats. This is wonderful. But, first, here’s the foundation of the image I created, first by hand, then on the computer, because I needed the precision of the computer image.

Six-fold-geometry
Six-fold-geometry

Okay, so as I’ve been folding and refolding and refolding again, and finding different shapes all the time, the last final amazing thing that I noticed (and this makes so much sense) ….

Some heart shapes?
Some heart shapes?

…is that every shape I make with these folds is echoed somewhere in the lines of the  geometric drawing that is printed on the paper.

This makes me so happy, well, I can’t even describe it.

Another heart shape
Another heart shape

Well, there you have it. Hope you love it as much as I do.

covered with NOT geometry
covered with NOT geometry

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, I think this fold looks good with just about anything on it.

 

 

 

 

folding · geometry and paper · geometry and paperfolding

A Square of Your Own

Squares, scaled
Squares, scaled

Making a plain old square exactly the size that you want can be such a chore. Too much can go wrong.

Squares can become so many different things (think ALL origami) that it’s worth knowing how to make a square just the size you want without getting stressed out.

Here’s how to do it, via the photo essay, followed by the video tutorial.

plain piece of copy paper
plain piece of copy paper

Here’s a regular piece of copy paper. The first steps look like I’m heading towards folding a square whose side is already predetermined by the short edge of the paper, but no. Be patient. This is going to be a surprise. Trust me.

First Step
First Step

Fold that short edge to meet the long edge, making sure that your fold ends (or starts) exactly at that corner. What you are doing here is bisecting that corner angle. If you cut away that rectangular flap on the edge, and unfold the triangle you’d have a square, but this isn’t what we are doing now. (Doing that was a different post, )

Marking the size of the new square
Marking the size of the new square

Unfold the fold then make a mark to indicate size of the square you want to make.

continuing...
continuing…

What I’m going to write next sounds horribly complicated but it’s easy to see and do.

Curl over that corner that has the fold going through it, lining up that corner point with the fold line it is leaning towards, and also lining up the upper edge of the paper with that mark you made. Press the fold.

Here’s a closer to look:

Closer Look
Closer Look

Now draw a line that traces around that folded down corner.

Time to cut out the square
Time to cut out the square

There’s your square!

Confused? Here’s a video to watch:

Got it?

Origami Pockets
Origami Pockets

Now make cool stuff.

Addendum: here’s a post that shows what I showed, plus another great way of making a square. https://mikesmathpage.wordpress.com/2018/01/23/a-fun-folding-exercise-for-kids-from-paula-beardell-krieg/