Origami = Opportunity

by Winter

Origami has provided my students with an important opportunity for success.

Our school district in South Dakota has recently become the second most ethnically diverse community in the state. This has presented our school and community with both great challenges and opportunities.

Students in our Middle School After School Program, grade 6, 7 and 8, may choose from a variety of after school activities, including tutoring. Thursday Origami is very popular. Funding for our after school activities is provided by grants and donations. The program would have great difficulty continuing without these financial resources.

Origami class is held in our school library and is supervised by school staff but has been taught by talented older students during the last two school years. Patterns come from library books (some donated) and appropriate internet sites. Our paper is donated. The school district printing department funnels some of their misprints and trimmings to origami class.

This school year our enthusiastic group is all boys and from all grade levels, with all ability levels, including students with special needs. Nearly 80% of the participating students are English as a second language. Some of our students are very new immigrants to the United States.

We are currently working on designs, including designs from origami-fun.com, to decorate a tree for a local annual Christmas tree contest. Our tree will be used to inform the community about our after school program and promote more participation and support.

Our origami students are such a positive group of kids! Some would come every day to origami class. Some do check the library every day just on the chance that there might be a new book or pattern or more practice paper to take home. Some teach younger siblings and our student instructor has worked with two classrooms of first graders as part of their study of Japan.

Coming together to make origami is more than just learning how to make a particular design. It provides a platform for success while reinforcing skills used in the classroom such as planning ahead and following instructions, geometry, reading and language skills, plus wonderful eye-hand coordination practice.

Origami class also fosters cooperation and the formation of lasting positive social connections between students of different ages, abilities, and cultures. Success with origami translates into the self confidence needed to be successful in other areas!

In our school, origami gives us the opportunity to impact a child well beyond making paper beautiful.

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