Using Origami to Teach Math: A Fun Lesson Plan

Using Origami to Teach Math: A Fun Lesson Plan

Chemists like to say that biology is just applied chemistry, and physicists like to say that chemistry is just applied physics. But really, everything is just applied math. Just like physics and chemistry and biology, math is  an often complicated, occasionally frustrating, but ultimately beautiful way of understanding the world around us and within us. And since sometimes the most complicated things are really very simple at heart, we are going to use something very simple to teach something very complicated.

small light green paper square on white surface

Yes, a little piece of paper. With this little piece of paper, you can do a lot. You can jot down a shopping list, write a note to a friend, make a cute origami frog. But can you get your kids and students excited about math? The answer is yes, and to do it, we have to go back to origami. Origami, the art of folding paper, is as much an art form as it is an exercise in applied mathematics. With every fold you make, new shapes emerge, and with every new shape, you can learn more and more about the ways that these different shapes interact with each other. While there are many concepts you can explain using origami, this lesson will teach your students about fractions. What you need: Colorful paper cut into a square Ruler Step 1: Have your students measure each side of the square and write it down. The photos are misleading - I actually measured in metric. Then have them calculate the area of the square. 8.9 cm x 8.9 cm = 79.21 cm^2

small green paper square on white surface with clear measuring ruler

Step 2: Next, have your students fold the square in half and then measure both its sides. 8.9 cm and 4.45 cm Have them explore the relationship between these two numbers, and then calculate the new area. 8.9 cm x 4.45 cm = 39.61 cm ^2 hand on clear inch ruler and folded green paper square Step 3: Then unfold it and fold it in half again. hand folding green paper square on white surface Step 4: Fold the corners down to make a smaller square. hand folding corner of green paper square down small green paper square with corners folded in origami Step 5: Measure the length the new sides and calculate the new area. 6.3 cm x 6.3 cm = 39.69 cm ^2 Notice that this area and the area previous calculated are the same (roughly) and are half the area (roughly) of the original square. small green paper square origami folded in with clear measuring ruler Step 6: Next, fold the tips of each triangle (or the right angles) to the sides of the square (or the hypoteneuse). hand folding up tip of green paper square corner origami green paper square origami with corner tips folded up Step 7: Measure the sides of the smaller square and calculate its area. 3.15 cm x 3.15 cm = 9.92 cm ^2 Evaluate the relationship between this area and the previously calculated area 39.61 cm^2 / 9.92 cm^2 = 4 and this area and the original area of the square 79.21 cm^2 / 9.92 cm^2 = 8 folded green paper origami with clear measuring ruler Once your students understand these relationships and how fractions work, they can turn their origami learning tool into a picture frame for their favorite photo or drawing. Completed purple and green math is awesome origami To all you teachers and parents, check back for more exciting crafts and lessons to do with your kids! Adapted from this great lesson!

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