Arts in Education · folding · Uncategorized

Seeing Differently, Teaching Differently

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.


November 20

November 20: Weblog Birthday, Six Years

Dolls by Angela
Dolls by Angela, age 6-ish

This blog became public six years ago today. I had been writing in secret for a while, trying to get the hang of WordPress, before first hitting the Publish Public setting. To celebrate, I’m posting photos of work done by each member of my little family, and pointing out my most visited pages.

Birthday Bird, by John
Birthday Bird, by my son John

The images on my blog that have gotten the most clicks are:

How to Make an Origami Pamphlet : 3750 clicks.  My number one favorite book to makes has the most clicks. This elegant little structure is known also know as a  zine, hot dog booklet, eight page pamphlet as well as by many other names.

Origami Pocket Tutorial:  3647 clicks.  This is slightly different from an origami cup because it is sized to hold a little book.

Modified Pamphlet Stitch Booklet:  3006 clicks.  A good structure to make when needle and thread seems too cumbersome.

How to Make a Six-Sided Snowflake from a Paper Napkin: 2859 clicks. I made this image quickly one evening after trying to explain how to do this on the phone to my good friend Cynthia in Minnesota. There are so many tutorials on how to make a snowflake that I never thought mine would rise to the towards the top of google search results, but it has!

Decorated Box by my husband
Box decorated by my husband

My most visited posts are:

‘Tis the Season to Make Paper Snowflakes    34,689 visitors. These views are mostly seasonal.

Elementary Nature Printing   17,198 visitors. I think it’s Pinterest that drives views to this page.

How to Make a Paper Spring  14,164 visitors. There’s not much competition on search engines for this structure. Even so, I think that the tutorial page on this post is one of my best and I doubt anyone will make one that’s better. Blush.

How to Make an Origami Pamphlet  13,674 visitors. This post, by the way, was published 10 days shy of six years ago. Nearly everyday this post is visited. Yesterday it got 16 views.

The remains on the inside of a Conch Shell, egg tempra, by me, today.
The remains on the inside of a Conch Shell, egg tempera, by me, today.

So, that’s it, my six-year wrap up. Next year maybe I will write about my own favorite posts. Thanks for visiting. It means the world to me to know you’ve stopped by.

How-to · Making Books with children · Making books with elementary students · moving parts · Rubber Band Books

Folder Book for Making Books about Countries

This post is about giving anyone who is interested the specs on how to make the Countries Folder Book that I wrote about in my last post, Making Books about Countries for Third Graders.

This book has many different pieces to it, which makes it a dynamic project, but requires that the teacher has a good grasp of many techniques. I’m supplying as many tutorial links as I can to help the ambitious tutor through this ambitious adventure.

I use a cover weight paper for this book. The size is important: 17 1/2″ x 23″, so that when it is folded in fourths, as in the illustration above, the inner pocket is big enough to store full size sheets of paper. These papers are the students raw notes, which they refer to when they are making their little books.

On the upper left side of the folder there is a color copy of Brazil’s paper money, attached to the page on a paper spring

Lower on the page is a little rubber band pamphlet book. This one was made from half sheets of copy paper, folded in half, nested together, then held together on the spine with a #19 rubber band. There are some lovely examples of these in the previous post so be sure to take a look.

The pamphlet book is stored in an origami pocket.

There is a 3″ x 6″ heavyweight paper “hook” in the middle of the right side of this folder. Take a look at the drawing to see the hook: in the photograph it is hidden behind the book. This heavy weight strip of paper is only partially glued down. The upper third is not glued down: a book hangs by its rubber band spine on the hook.

The book on the hook is made of two sheets of paper folded together so that its pages reveal the pages below. They are bound together with a .#19 rubber band. This is often refered to as a graduated page book.

Here are some great examples of some of the graduated page books made by these talented third graders.

These pages were made from regular copy paper, cut in half. Notice that we photocopied lines on to the pages.

The energy in this child’s writing and drawings makes clear his enthusiasm for this project.

The drawings on these were made from the backs of cut up pieces of filing cards.

The last thing I want to write about is the flag and the v-shaped pop-up that it is attached to. First, the flag.
What I generally like to do with flags is to provide the students with colored paper with which they “build” the flags. For Brazil this meant cutting a green rectangle, a yellow parallelogram and color copy of the center of the flag. Most flags can be “built” fairly easily with colored paper (the USA flag is the great exception!). The Canadian flag can be tricky: I provide the color strips, and an outline of the central leaf, which students color in.

Next time I do this project I probably won’t use the v-shaped pop-up, Instead, I think I would try a simpler square. You’ll have to search out your own directions for this one!

8 1/2" x 11" Book Making · How-to

Origami Pocket

How to make an origami Pocket by Paula Krieg
Click to enlarge for reading or printing

As this is the beginning of the new school year, I am dedicating some posts on how to make an origami pocket. This is a great first project to make with students. It is a crowd pleaser, which is important to me because it can get a classroom of students happy to be  readily on board with paper and book arts. When I begin with  paper that is about 15 inch square  the resulting pocket can be a handy storage folder for on-going projects.

Before I go any further with this I want to clarify that this is not the traditional origami cup that one often sees.  For great directions on how to make an origami cup I recommend looking at  the  Kids Web Japan/Cup site. The noteworthy difference between the classic cup and my pocket is the width of the base of the structure.  I prefer the wider base as it is more suitable for storing books than the narrower, taller origami cup.  Just for the record, I was introduced to the origami pocket about a decade ago by a young boy, who learned it  from a TV program called Zoom.

I have have available a black and white copy of  directions on how to make an Origami Pocket.

Addendum March 30, 2020

Here’s the video tutorial of how to make an origami pocket