Thursday, September 8, 2011

Art, Science, and Math through Origami

Konos Unit: Honor
Theme: Japan

As part of our study on Japan, we learned to do some basic Origami. Origami is the study of paper folding.


Stuart and I have been fascinated with Origami for quite some time but never actually tried it. I was really excited to be able to tie it into our study on Japan.

I found Origami paper at Michael's and used my 40% off one item coupon to get a big pack of it. The paper is thin but very colorful and they are the perfect small square to play with.

I picked up some books on Origami from our local library.


Fantasy Origami is a great book for more advanced models. There are some really impressive designs here but these were a bit out of our league...for now. I think we might have to buy this book for future use.

Japanese Origami: Paper Magic by Ann Stalcup was the perfect book to introduce the origins of Origami while touching on some of the Japanese cultural uses and festivals that might include Origami.

The last book, The Book of 12 Amazing Origami Creations, I had picked up a few months ago for a quarter at a garage sale. I got it just to play with but once I started planning this lesson on Japan I decided to save it for this unit. I'm so glad I did. It has some good instructions for basic folds as well as more advanced ones. I didn't realize it at the time I bought the book but it actually has a pocket in the back of the book with squares of Origami paper that is patterned and colored to coordinate with the creatures and models that you make from the book. None of them had ever been used!

We played with lots of creations. Here's a cute little penguin that Nicholas made rather quickly.


Both kids played with folding paper on their own without specific directions.


We stumbled upon a movie on Netflix called Between The Folds which is all about Origami as art, science, and math. Origami is more than just playing with paper. It is art, yes. But it is also math. Consider for a moment how Origami requires understanding of angles, fractions, geometry, and spatial reasoning. It is also amazing to me how scientists study Origami to improve their understanding of the world around them. Yes, Origami is also science.

Between The Folds in an incredible documentary about Origami and the people who study it. Several Origami artists are interviewed in the movie including a homeschool student and his father. The artists make beautiful creations. Not the cute little penguins and cranes that we made. No, these are seemingly impossible, incredibly intricate pieces of work that are truly mind-boggling. For more information, please check out the Between The Folds website or follow Between The Folds on Facebook or Between The Folds on Twitter.

Some other wonderful resources for Origami in the classroom:

Scholastic Teachers: Origami Math

Stellated Rhombic Dodecahedron

Tips on How to Use Origami In The Classroom

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