Art & Math
Even though one need not have any specific knowledge of math to do origami, folded paper forms and methods make excellent tools for exploring and explaining many math concepts in an eloquent and effective way. Since all grades study and use arithmetic and math, and most folding exercises review concepts learned earlier, origami is an excellent platform for students in any grade to refresh their math thinking in a practical way.
Concepts may include counting; computational skills; fractions; decimals; ratios; percentages; geometric shapes; area; volume; angles; trigonometry; algebraic expressions; plane and solid geometry; and even the Pythagorean theorem… We use appropriate math terminology, carefully chosen for each lesson.
When the students’ sculptural products are proudly displayed they can be appreciated by the whole school community as an art installation. Such displays (as mobiles, or wall art) challenge the students because their craftsmanship, as well as choices of theme, colors, sizes, and composition will be on view. This engages the students even more.
Although the word Origami is Japanese, many people assume that origami is strictly Japanese. In fact, the paperfolding arts have never been limited to Japan, and wherever there has been paper, there has probably been paper folding. Beginning with China nearly 2,000 years ago, each country has developed various kinds of papers for particular purposes, whether practical (for wrapping, packaging, or writing) or for entertainment and the decorative arts.
It is interesting and valuable to learn how paper was used in different places and at different times; how vital paper has been, and continues to be in the flourishing of cultures, trade, and communication among nations. With the help of paper, public communication was a critical step for humankind’s move into the modern era. The computer and electronic communications came much later, but it is doubtful that they could have ever been developed without paper. If anything, the communications revolution has accelerated the development of origami as art by putting designers and creators in direct and easy contact with each other and their works.
Students will learn about paper, its production and properties, and the significant places and times of its development. We use origami models, representing different cultures and times. The subject of these designs prompts short research and writing projects. Origami’s engaging quality sharpens interest in the subject, and each student is encouraged to discover and present a different aspect of the topic. Origami art also helps to illustrate the theme. Perhaps students would be required to write a short piece about an origami design and its connection to the topic.
The Natural World
Plant and animal subjects abound within the origami repertoire: birds; fish and other animals… the blossoms and leaves of plants; … the inhabitants of every biome including pond life; oceans and the seashore, polar regions; deserts; rainforests… Concepts such as pollination; predator-prey relationships; the remarkable metamorphosis of the butterfly; biomimicry…These are just a few of the themes that we have explored via origami with students in the classroom.
From ancient times to modern, many countries have unique and charming customs, and many origami projects illustrate these. In Japan, how one wraps a gift can have distinct meanings and cultural implications; in Spain, there is a little paper “pet,” the Pajarita, a beloved little abstract bird that many know how to fold; and now prevalent throughout the world, holiday trees are decorated with origami is an annual favorite. Students could learn about these and other traditions, or make up their own, new tradition, using their origami to tell the story.
Cooperation / Communication skills
There are also modular origami (multi-piece constructions) that are especially appropriate to each grade level. Students fold multiples of origami unit “puzzle pieces” and then assemble them into the final display piece. Completed works might be wall hangings; others could be mobiles. Students work together and critique the result, learning about cause and effect, quality control, communication and leadership. Some may be required to teach others how to fold the units.
Critical Thinking skills
We tailor the presentation of origami instruction using origami puzzle models to develop and promote critical thinking, including visual and verbal problem solving, logic, and adaptation. Teachers love this unit! It can be adapted to all ages, and it does not require math skills to be successful.
To one degree or another, all origami models are abstractions of the subjects they represent. The degree of abstraction can vary. Students will learn about abstract art and will practice making abstract origami sculptures. We also present, with images and in-person, masterful examples of origami art, that emphasize the elements of this new and exciting style of origami art.
Master classes are designed for well-versed origami artists and designers who wish to further their skills and understanding of the art. We teach at origami conventions and to groups of advanced origami students worldwide. Topics include wet-folding, the appreciation and the special preparation of fine papers. Michael and Richard can prepare lessons based upon the style and complexity demanded by the venue. We can then select or make the appropriate papers for the projects and skills to be studied. Participants must be appropriately qualified for these classes and we can advise you on how best to do this. We want students to be challenged, but not to become frustrated by “getting in over their heads”!
Origamido® Paper & Papermaking Workshop
Purchase Origamido® paper in person, or come and make your own paper with us at our studio! [click here for information]
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