Origami Math

Primary (Age 6 – 9)

Curriculum Goal

Primary: Geometry and Spatial Sense

  • Compare two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional figures and sort them by their geometric properties.​
  • Describe relationships between two-dimensional shapes, and between two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional figures.

Primary: Visual Arts

  • Apply the creative process to produce a variety of two- and three-dimensional art works, using elements, principles, and techniques of visual arts to communicate feelings, ideas, and understandings.​
  • Demonstrate an understanding of a variety of art forms, styles, and techniques from the past and present, and their social and/or community contexts.


  • Students and teacher sit on the carpet in a circle.​
  • Students then break into small groups when making origami.


  • Picture book: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
  • One origami paper per student: if not available, cut coloured paper into squares (Appendix A)
  • One origami instruction sheet per student and one for overhead/Smartboard (Appendix B)
  • One teacher-made origami model
  • Various coloured markers for students


  • Read “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes”.​
  • Discuss origami, the cultural history and its representation (see Appendix B).​
  • Connect origami with mathematics using the model. Discuss geometric shapes (2D and 3D), relationships between shapes, and the role of symmetry.​
  • Provide each student the materials. Place an instruction sheet on the overhead/Smartboard and lead instructions to form the same origami structure. Model the use of appropriate mathematical language (e.g. create a fold perpendicular to the last fold).​
  • Allow students who have successfully completed a fold to assist other students to encourage collaborative learning. Make landmarks on the paper with a pencil for students who are having difficulty forming spatial representations.​
  • Facilitate discussions during the process of making the origami structure. This will encourage students to identify different 2D shapes, compare their geometric attributes, and decompose/compose shapes. Possible questions/prompts:
    • ​What new shapes have been formed? How does this shape compare to the shape we had before?
    • ​What kind of shapes do we see in this 3D shape? There are so many lines and shapes here. Do you see shape patterns? Let’s look at the shapes that are close together.​
    • Introduce the concept of fractions using appropriate terminology (e.g. half, quarter).
  • Compare the original size of the shape/paper with the previous: How does this shape/paper compare to the shape/paper we had before?​
  • Complete making the structure and explore the different shapes and its attributes. Highlight the relationship between 2D shapes and 3D figures.​
  • Ask students to unfold their work and encourage them to independently colour-in the different 2D shapes, angles, and lines they see on their paper.​
  • Discuss as a class the shapes that were created through the activity, focusing on their attributes, shape/line patterns, creases/folds, and angles.​
  • To end the activity, highlight the relationship between smaller and larger shapes.​

Look Fors

  • Are students able to accurately name their geometric shapes?​
  • Can students identify and compare attributes (e.g. side length, number of sides) of 2D shapes?
  • Are students able to correctly identify and compare different angles? Do they recognize angles in shapes?​
  • Do students recognize that large 2D shapes are composed of smaller 2D shapes? Are they able to identify this relationship between 2D shapes and 3D figures?​
  • Do students use appropriate spatial sense vocabulary when describing the position of shapes and folds (e.g. refection, rotate, translate)? Are they able to independently follow verbal/written instructions?​
  • Do students understand the importance and representation of origami? Are they able to describe their artwork using different principles of design (line, shape, colour, space, pattern)?

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