Using Origami to Teach Standard Mathematics Topics
On-Line Lesson Plans
- Daniel Meyer and Jeanine Meyer have a beautiful and extensive web
page on using origami to teach mathematics. They include
theoretical discussion of educational uses of origami, general
strategies for teaching origami and tying it to mathematics, and many
origami folding instructions and lesson plans.
- The Finger Lakes Paperfolders held an Exapanding Your
Horizons (EYH) workshop on applied origami for girls in junior high.
Their site includes a number of their handouts, resources, and lots of
photos of the event.
- Bill Wagner has a lesson plan that uses simple paper folding to
develop concepts relating to fractions.
Dave Love and Bill Haneberg give a lesson plan,
currently hosted on Jill
Bretton's math page that brings geometry, origami, and geology together. They give
instructions for creating paper tetrahedra from envelopes, geology
themed templates, and assembly instructions for making a neat
kaleidocycle. If you don't want to use a geology theme, you might let
the students color their own kaleidocycle designs using the template
- Barbara Pearl gives a simple origami whale lesson that involves basic
mathematical vocabulary and some geometric thinking. This page also
includes an address where you can write to receive a free copy of
101 Ways to Use Origami in the Classroom.
- Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers gives several lessons
that use origami to teach or reinforce high school geometry concepts.
Ideas for Using Origami to Teach Mathematics
- Juergen Koeller has a web page with lots of fun math
activities. One of these shows how to make an origami cube and then gives a mathematical
discussion about the ratio of the side of the final cube to the length
of the side of the original square. This is then compared with
another way of getting a cube out of a square and with a theoretical
limit. Developing this line of thinking could result in a nice math
- Eric M. Anderson has an extensive origami web page that includes a
discussion on using origami to teach math. This page mentions
many specific math concepts that come up in origami, and gives lots of
leads for designing your own lesson plan or class project. He gives
examples of mathematical origami questions in geometry, topology, and
combinatorics. These questions do not require mathematical
background, but they do require students who are tenacious problem
- Origami USA has some
for teaching origami.
Benefits of Origami in the Classroom
Books and Other Resources for
- David Mitchell has several books on using origami to teach math.
Exploring Mathematical Ideas with Origami makes an excellent
reference for teaching problem solving, ratios, and geometry. It
includes instructions for making beautiful origami tesselations and
explores mathematical ideas in great depth. Paperfolding
Puzzles features lots of neat hands-on brain
teasers. Mathematical Origami shows how to construct a
variety of origami polyhedra. This site also includes some free sample
articles on mathematical origami that you can download.
- Betsy Franco's Unfolding Mathematics with Unit Origami is a book of
lesson plans for algebra and geometry students in grades 7-11. This
book includes discussions of algebraic and angle relationships,
symmetry in 2 and 3 dimensions, and other concepts. It includes
teaching strategies, suggestions for assessing student work, and
possible extensions of the activities.
- Barbara Perl's program, Math in Motion: Origami in the Classroom K-8, offers
workshops and books that use origami to make learning come to life.
This program includes educational objectives in subject areas across
the curriculum. Among the mathematical objectives are developing
fundamental geometric ideas and spatial intuition; teaching
mathematical vocabulary; learning about symmetry, congruence, and
angles; practicing fractions, ratios, proportions, and measurement;
and developing problem solving and critical thinking skills.
- The book Paper Folding: A Fun and Effective Method for Learning
Math includes a curriculum appropriate for a wide range of ages.
Math topics covered include geometry, conic sections, isometries,
fractions, tessellations, tangram puzzles, and symmetries.
- A great deal of work has been done on the use of origami in
education and therapy. Tom Hull has posted proceedings from a 1991 conference on this