Our Origami Cranes
(La Plata, MO USA)
Some origami cranes
I am a Title I reading teacher in my district. I have always enjoyed origami and have used it with my students in various ways over the years.
My favorite is when my third graders read The Paper Crane by Molly Bang. It is about a stranger coming into a roadside diner that has few customers. The stranger makes a paper crane from a napkin and leaves it for the owner of the diner with instructions that if he claps his hands the crane will dance. Needless to say when this happens and people find out, he has many, many customers and the word spreads.
As soon as we read about the stranger making the paper crane my student always want to know if we're going to make one. After we've finished the book and skills necessary we do make one. First, I have them make a box, frog, or other simple origami item. Then I show a finished crane, make one for them and then we're all ready to do it. It usually takes two days to finish because I do not use the whole class time to make the crane.
Sometimes the students struggle a little but it is so exciting, they keep trying. I show them how to use some kind of tool to push down the folds and all the little finger tricks to push, pull, and fold. In the end they do a really nice job and they are eager to display them with our story summary in the hallway.
Once we've done this, they start thinking we can make origami characters for every story we read. We do make frogs for frog and toad studies, fish and whales for poems, and bats when we read stories about them.