Friday, March 6, 2015

It's Raining Origami Cats and Dogs!

I love introducing Kindergarten and first grade students to the art of origami. It not only exposes them to many folds, such as side to side and corner to corner, but introduces the class to a diverse culture and country and a great discussion on shape characteristics, such as a square having four corners and four sides while a triangle only has three corners and three sides. As tradition holds in my building, kindergarten students learn step by step how to fold a simple origami cat, which is also the exact same steps for the origami dog. The first day of class we discuss that the art of origami originates in Japan and locate Japan on the map in our classroom. I show the students the steps at the demonstration table. I then hand one square origami paper to each child and we walk through the steps together as a class. I walk around and check progress through each step. Lastly, I let each child pick their own color of origami paper and try it on their own. If they need help, they only need to raise their hands. Next class, students will choose which cat or dog head is the best and take the other one home. The origami cat or dog head kept in the classroom will be glued to a 12" x 18" drawing paper and students will add the body, legs, tail and any other details necessary for their cat or dog with pencil first, then oil pastel contour lines, and finally tempera paint cakes (similar to a watercolor resist) to fill. Here are the directions below for the origami cat and dog, if you would like to try it at home.  Look to Artsonia to see gallery examples from 2013.

Start with a square paper.

Fold diagonally from corner to corner and crease.

Sometimes this fold is difficult, so I tell students to pinch the corner with one
hand and use the other hand to flatten the fold from the corner down.

Fold in half again from corner to corner and crease.
Open last fold and notice line dividing triangle in half.
Turn the paper so that it acts as an arrow and points to the belly.

To prevent over folding, I tell students to place one finger
at the top of the line and use the other to grab the top right corner.

Pull the top right corner down to the belly
leaving a nice triangle shape the ear and cheek.

Repeat on the other side. I tell students to notice that
they should now have three arrows pointing towards their belly.

I tell students that dogs or cats do not normally have pointy chins
so we need to fold the bottom point up to leave a flat chin instead.
This is the dog.

To make the cat, simply flip the paper over and upside down.
I found this great video from Ted 2008 by Robert Lang entitled "The Math and Magic of Origami". Although a little advanced for my kindergarten and first grade students, I certainly enjoyed how he uses math and engineering principles to fold mind-blowingly intricate designs that are beautiful and, sometimes, very useful. Check out the video below.

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