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What Students Can Learn from Origami

Posted by Joe Clarkin on May 13, 2015 4:00:00 AM
Topics: K-12

It turns out teaching students origami can be more than just a fun activity; the intricacies required by origami go well beyond paper-folding. So what exactly can students learn beyond what meets the eye? Check out the excerpt from this Edutopia article below, or read through the full article to see everything they had to say about what your students can learn from origami.


An Art Form for All Subjects

Don’t believe me? Researchers have found a number of ways that origami can make lessons enticing, while giving students skills they need. (Think of it as vegetables blended into spaghetti sauce.) Here are some ways that origami can be used in your classroom to improve a range of skills:


According to the National Center for Education Statistics in 2003, geometry was one area of weakness among American students. Origami has been found to strengthen an understanding of geometric concepts, formulas, and labels, making them come alive. Here’s how to use it in your class (PDF). By labeling an origami structure with length, width, and height, students will learn key terms and ways to describe a shape. You can use origami to determine the area by applying a formula to a real-world structure.

Thinking Skills

Origami excites other modalities of learning. It has been shown to improve spatial visualization skills using hands-on learning. Such skills allow children to comprehend, characterize, and construct their own vernacular for the world around them. In your class, find origami or geometric shapes in nature and then describe them with geometric terms.


The concept of fractions is scary to lots of students. Folding paper can demonstrate the fractions in a tactile way. In your class, you can use origami to illustrate the concepts of one-half, one-third, or one-fourth by folding paper and asking how many folds students would need to make a certain shape. The act of folding the paper in half and in half again and so on can also be used to demonstrate the concept of infinity.

Problem Solving

Often in assignments, there is one set answer and one way to get there. Origami provides children an opportunity to solve something that isn't prescribed and gives them a chance to make friends with failure (i.e. trial and error). In your class, show a shape and ask students to come up with a way to make it. They may get the solution from various approaches. Remember, there is no wrong answer.

About Joe Clarkin

Joe Clarkin is a former copywriter at MBS. When he’s not working or studying, you’re most likely to find him reading a book or watching a game.

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