I don’t understand  why certain of my projects with kids get more attention than others. My original post about Sight Word Pockets Book for Kindergarteners  from 2011 still gets viewed every day. My teaching season doesn’t go by without requests for this project. By now I have taught literally thousands of young students how to make origami pockets, but it’s never easy. I’m always looking for a better way to explain this folding method.

A titled square is still a square

A tilted square is still a square

I’ve come into this teaching season thinking differently about folding paper.

For so many years I have been telling students what to do. This year I have prioritized trying to draw their attention towards what to see.

They all recognize a square, but when I tilt it, students say its a diamond, a rhombus, or a kite. Last week I suggested to students that this shape was still a square, then I was relieved when a  classroom teacher chimed in and emphasized that tilt or no tilt, the shape was still a square. The main thing, though, is that this simple rotation and the conversation riveted students’ attention to the shape.

Folding a square point to point, from the top down

Folding a square point to point, from the top down

I’ve been asking students what happens to the square if I fold it corner to corner. They all seem to be able to predict that folding a square point-to-point can make a triangle. This makes them happy. They seem to like triangles. Then I tell them that with just one fold more I can make many more triangles. What magic can this be? I have their full attention. They are watching to see if this can possibly be true.

Folding just one layer of paper, I fold the tip of the triangle down to the base. The children are delighted. We count the triangles. Are there four triangles? Are there five?

The next step is the tricky step but now students are attached to the shapes that the folds make and have a heightened awareness of triangles. When I talk about tucking the edge of one of the triangles under the flap, they see what I mean. Here, look at this video. It absolutely blows me aware that this five-year-old just learned this folding sequence about a half-hour before I filmed her doing it. Notice how sure her hands are as they move through the steps.

This change in my teaching, prioritizing seeing & predicting over telling & doing feels really good.  It’s happening because I’ve begun to be able to answer a question I’ve been carrying around in my mind for years: I’ve really looked hard at origami , trying to figure out what about it compels some people say that origami is somehow like math.

Now I’m coming to understand that it isn’t origami that I needed to see differently, it’s been my understanding of math that I needed to adjust before I could make the connection. Now that I am seeing math less as addition and subtraction, and more as relationships and transformations, the boundary between origami and math vaporizes.

More and more I am trying  to be  attuned to childrens’ seemingly intuitive connection to ideas that are aligned to a broader understanding math, and I am able to tap into this with great results. I help them see what is already familiar to them, and what happens next is that they better understanding what’s going on, and can figure out what to do next. Yes, even five-year-olds can do this.

 

Well, Well

March 27, 2017

Five years ago I bumped into a friend that I hadn’t seen in a while. Unbeknownst to me, he had been dealing with some health issues, but was now better. Having missed my chance to send him a get-well card, I designed him a got-well card. So that I wouldn’t misplace the template I created I stored it as a blog post https://bookzoompa.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/got-well/ then pretty much forgot about it.

This weekend I wanted to write a couple of cards, and went looking for that template.

I was just learning Adobe Illustrator back then (one of my best decisions) so I hadn’t figured out how to print designs on the well. Now I am feeling like it’s charming to sit and draw in the colors for the well.

Fancy Well

In the morning, sitting with my husband, sipping coffee, it’s pleasant to have something to color.

I assembled two of these this weekend: one as a get-well card, the other as a bit of fan mail, telling someone how much I’ve been enjoying their work.

Taking a page from my own play book, the lettering on the front was done by looking at a font that I’ve been using in a project that I’m doing with students.

I don’t know the name of this font, but it came from this awesome resource, found at https://archive.org/stream/studio00welo#page/204/mode/2up which is worth looking at and downloading.

I didn’t trace the letters, instead I just looked at them, free-hand sketched then went over them with gel pens. The strip below the lettering is part of the mechanism that makes the well 3D when the card opens.

Now comes the hard part…getting them in the envelopes, addressing them and sending them off. If I do this right now I may be able to get them into the mailbox before the mailman comes. Outta here!

Oh, in case you missed it, here’s the link to the post that explains how to assemble the pieces of this card. https://bookzoompa.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/got-well/

Model for a Kaleidocycle Project for Fifth Graders

Just realized I spelled “Kaleidocycle” wrong on this model for a project I’m putting together for Fifth Graders! Well, good, we’ll talk about mistakes.

Now, in case you missed my post about kaleidocycles, they are this fun paper structure whose sides rotate to reveal a surprising number of new surfaces. This style of kaleidocycle here has four completely different faces, each of which has 3 distinct areas to fill with text or designs. Sort of like a fortune teller, but more 3D.

I’m not a person who is skilled in doing hand lettering to create fancy looking phrases. Nor do I think that I can teach 5th graders to be hand lettering artists in a few class periods. But I love this art form, and am happy to be able to talk to kids about hand lettering.

We’ll be doing a project that references the first 10 amendments to the American Constitution. darn. Spelled Amendments wrong too. Ok, will make a new model with corrections. But will show both to students.

Anyone who does calligraphy or hand lettering will tell you that making spelling mistakes happens frequently when so much effort is being put into forming the letters. People with dyslexia will agree.

Here’s the project. I will talk to students about creating something like a movie title which references each of the  first ten amendments, aka The Bill of Rights (know them or lose them!!).  Students will then be given some alphabets and will trace out the letters.

It can take a few tries, but I’m anticipating that they will not have much trouble coming up with a version that I can then trace in Adobe Illustrator to create a master document.

Flourishes

They can also add flourishes around their words.

My version for the model that I will be showing off, featuring later amendments, looked like this when the computer work was done:I will print the student images on 28 lb, 8 1/2″ x 11″ copy paper. My plan is that each student will design just one of the 12 surfaces on this kaleidocycle (there happen to be just 12 students in this class). I will print up enough copies for everyone and we’ll spend the last of the three sessions I have with them doing cutting, gluing and decorating.

When this project is done I will take photos and post on my blog, recommending either that you try this out with your students or telling you that have to be crazy to think that this can be done as three-meeting classroom project for fifth grade students.

All will be told be the end of the first week in April. Yikes. Starting this project tomorrow, early.

Addendum: See the results https://bookzoompa.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/5th-graders-kaleidocycles-of-the-bill-of-rights/

Book, peeking out of its box by Paula Beardell Krieg

Book, peeking out of its box

When Miriam Schaer was assembling her teaching collection to send to Telavi University in the Republic of Georgia, I very much wanted to contribute, but nothing I had on hand seemed right. In the nick of time, some thoughts came colliding together. Polygon Fractal book by Paula Beardell Krieg

This structure started out with an exploration of a shape which I wrote about a few weeks ago after watching family math video made by the Lawlers.

Inside Outside Book by Paula Beardell KriegThe book  opens in an accordion-like fashion, but front and back are structurally different.

Polygon Fractal book by Paula Beardell KriegThe colorful pages rotate open to create these double layered corners. The polygon fractals on the pages here are harvested from Dan Anderson’s openprocessing page then toyed with in Photoshop.

To see the fractals in their full radiant radial symmetry one must rotate the book. There are six completely different images to be seen. But it gets more interesting, because there is a whole other side to see.

The folds of those double layered corners completely reverse to form a cube!

You can’t imagine how excited I was when I saw this cube emerge from the folds!

This folded structure totally suggested that, whatever I use on it, that it be about the dual nature of….something….a suitcase (no, too obvious), a politician’s statements (ugh, too boring)…actually wanted to use images that didn’t imply any hierarchy, hiding, agendas, or judgement about contrasting inner and outer manifestations.

It was this thinking, about duality but equality of visuals, which led me to using Dan’s code along with the polygon fractals that it creates. So perfect. Code and images are perfectly linked, simply completely different ways of seeing the same thing. You know, like Blonde Brunette Redhead 

Now, I do have a lingering unresolved issue with this book. I’m not thrilled with the paper that I’ve used. It’s 32lb Finch Fine Color Copy paper. It takes color beautifully, folds well, but I’m thinking that the folds might be more prone to tearing than is comfortable. Not sure what else to use…am open for suggestions. Miriam’s copy has been shipped, but I’m still happy to check out different papers to use.

I can’t help but wonder if people will be able to figure the transformation of these  pages without seeing this post or reading the brief explanation I’ve provided on the back page of the book? Dunno.

Oh, and here’s my favorite variation:

Hanging a tea light from a pencil so I can see the inside and outside at the same time.

Happy.

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