Tag Archives: origami

Oopsigami

Do you notice anything significantly different in the picture below?

origami

My 1st graders are studying different countries.  After talking about Japan, we did an origami lesson.  Last year, I discovered that origami is a great vehicle for teaching about Growth Mindset.  I decided to do the same this year.  I talked to the students about things that are hard and easy for them, and how practice can help.  I also gave them examples of “scaffolding” – not jumping right to the most difficult challenges right away, but working your way up to them.  “It’s important to know when something is too easy for you, but also to know when it’s too hard and that you need more practice.”

After doing a sample origami activity together, I set them loose on some origami websites to try some on their own.  They self-differentiated by choosing the activities that suited their experience levels.  I told them that I would help them with reading directions, but that I wouldn’t do anything for them.

One of my 1st graders kept trying to coax me into helping her.  She grew more and more frantic, and finally dissolved into tears.

I was at a crossroads.  I certainly don’t like to see my students hurting, but I also don’t want them to get in the habit of giving up. This student said she had already tried every “easy” origami lesson, and she just couldn’t do them.

This student also happens to be an excellent artist, and I suddenly realized this was an opportunity for another lesson that I want all of my students to learn.

“Just make up your own,” I said.

She looked at me doubtfully.

“Origami is art.  Art is about being creative – not following directions. If you want to make butterfly, make up your own butterfly.  Who cares if it’s not the same as the one in the picture?”

Everyone in the class was looking at me then.  I had just spent 10 minutes telling them to not give up in the face of a challenge, and here I was announcing that this student could give up and do what she wanted.  Even I was confused by my own mixed messages.

A little later, the little girl proudly presented her creation to me.

“It’s an origami blanket,” she declared.

The rest of the class watched me carefully for my reaction.

“I love that you came up with your own idea.  All origami art had to be thought up by someone originally.  Maybe someday people will try to make your origami blanket.”

She smiled.

Earlier this year, I read a book to my class called, Beautiful Oops.  This was my student’s version.

I still don’t know if I handled this the right way.  But I do know one thing.  We spend far too much time teaching our students to follow directions, and then we are flummoxed when they seem to be at a loss when asked to do something creative.

I refuse to be the person who stifles a young artist just because she would rather draw on a piece of paper than fold it.

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Phodable Phun

For today’s Phun Phriday post, I bring you three examples of the impact the ancient art of origami continues to have in the modern world.

Check out this story from the New York Times, which includes a video of a robot that starts out flat, then folds itself into a 3-D creature.
Check out this story from the New York Times, which includes a video of a robot that starts out flat, then folds itself into a 3-D creature.  The video is amazing!

 

Or, get yourself a metal origami sculpture that you put together yourself - starting from flat pieces delivered in the mail!
Or, get yourself a metal origami sculpture that you put together yourself – starting from flat pieces delivered in the mail! Back this Kickstarter project, Poligon, if you love this idea! (You’ve got to watch the video to see this awesome concept!)

 

Richard Byrne just published a post about an app and a website that you can use to make your own paper foldable creations.
Richard Byrne just published a post here about an app (Foldify) and a website (Paper Toys) that you can use to make your own paper foldable creations. Read his post for a cool idea for what to do with your finished products!

Using Origami to Foster a Growth Mindset

origami

Have you ever tried to teach origami to a large group of first graders?  It can be a challenge, to say the least.

Every year, when my 1st graders study Japan, I attempt an origami project.  Every year, I do it differently.  And every year I berate myself for doing it wrong.  No matter how slowly I give instructions or how many times I demonstrate under a document camera, there are several students who end up frustrated while other students grow increasingly bored with the repetitive instructions and having to wait while I help others make a valley fold.

Last year was a little better when I let the students use iPads and sites that showed videos of origami folding so they could work at their own pace.  But many of them immediately chose projects that were too difficult and gave up after finding themselves overwhelmed.

You’re probably shouting all kinds of helpful teacher advice at the computer right now, including, “Give up the origami project, you fool!  It’s not like they need to know that as a real-world skill!”

That is very true.  But perseverance can be a good skill (until it becomes stubbornness).  And learning from mistakes is a good skill.  Being aware of your own ability level and how far you should push yourself is a pretty good skill, too.

As I’ve been learning about the advantages of a growth mindset this year, I’ve been trying to share this with my students.  It’s become part of our daily vocabulary in some of the grade levels, but I haven’t approached it that way with my younger students, yet.  I decided to use the origami lesson to help me do that with my 1st graders. (Here is a great growth mindset chart that you might like to include in your classroom.)

Last week, I asked the 1st graders to think of an activity that was easy, medium, and hard for them.  For each activity, they drew a picture to represent it.  For example, if reading is easy for a student, she might draw a book.  If math is hard, he might draw a multiplication sign.

Then we all made a simple origami rabbit.  I asked them to think about how the activity compared to the ones on their “Levels of Difficulty” sheet.  We talked about how it was easy for one student because he has a lot of experience with origami, and that it was perfectly fine that it was hard for another student because this was her very first time doing origami.  We stapled their projects to their sheets.

This week, I read Your Fantastic Elastic Brain to them (which they loved – perfect level for them!).  We related it to the origami experience and discussed how important it is to stretch your brain, and not just stick to the things that are easy for us.

Then I gave them some origami sites, and they worked in partners to do whatever project they chose.  I reminded them that if they should choose a project based on their experience.

“If you’ve done lots of origami before, should you pick an easy one?”

“NO!”

“If you’ve never done it before last week, should you pick a hard one?”

“NO!”

I told them that I was not going to help them, that they would need to figure it out on their own, unless they needed help with a word.

I let them go, and held my breath.

“This one is too hard,” one of the students said after a few minutes.

“Let’s keep trying,” his partner said.  “I think we can do this.”  They unfolded and re-folded several times.  After 10 minutes, they did it.  They were so proud!

A student working by himself nearly did cartwheels around the room once he figured out his project.

Similar stories played out all around the room.  There were some sighs of frustration, but no giving up and no tears.  I was able to walk from table to table, giving encouragement, praising perseverance instead of frantically trying to get everyone to the same place.

At the end of class, the students couldn’t believe time had passed so quickly.  There was a unanimous vote to continue working on origami next class.

In a way, I felt like I’d just completed my own origami project. It only took me about 5 years to finally get it right.

Origami Elephant created by Sipho Mabona, picture from My Modern Met
Origami Elephant created by Sipho Mabona, picture from My Modern Met

 

Valentine Puzzle Purse

According to the Origami Resource Center, Puzzle Purses have been around for centuries in several different cultures.  In Victorian times, they became a Valentine tradition.  You can find specific directions, along with diagrams, for folding your own puzzle purse, here.    As an additional challenge, your students can also create the poetry that goes inside.