For my December school-age program, I decided to test my origami skills and designed a program called "You, Me & Origami!" for children grades K-3rd. The program ran from 11AM-12 PM on December 28th and I had 18 attend and and two call in sick that morning (always a bummer but what can you do?). Overall the program was a great success! I was a bit worried as I had 9 kindergartners in the mix and I wasn't sure how they would be able to follow the folding instructions, but we went slowly and it all worked out. I think there were several keys to the success of the program:
1. I started off reading Yoko's Paper Cranes by Rosemary Wells. This gave the children time to get settled into their seats, forced a bit of quiet while they listened and gave me a chance at the end to explain why origami can be so simple and yet beautiful and meaningful at the same time. Plus, reinforcing reading in my programs is always a win!
2. I arranged the seats in a big U with me in the middle. This was a real key to success because I could check to make sure no one was getting left behind in the fold (pun intended;-). For the younger ones who did need help, I enlisted an older child to their right or left, or went around myself making sure we were all on the same page (there I go again with the puns!).
3. Plenty of paper. I cannot state this enough: you need PLENTY OF PAPER to do an origami program. There will be mis-folds and mistakes and children will want to start over. We ended up making 4 figures each but I gave each child 10 pieces of paper in various colors and it worked out perfectly. If there was leftover paper, I gave them the option of taking it home to make more figures, or leaving it for me to do another program with in the future.
4. K.I.S.S. Yes, the good old Keep It Simple Stupid. No, I'm not calling anyone stupid ;-) When it comes to beginner's origami, simple is really the way to go. For my program I made many different figures to show the children as examples, but when it came to the teaching and what we actually made in the class, I had 5 figures planned but posted that we would make 3 on the flyer. We actually ended up making 4 different figures: a heart, a panda, a cat and a dog. I printed simple, easy-to-follow instructions for each child and we went step-by-step together. It worked well: the children who were a bit faster had plenty of time to color their figures (crayons were also out on the table) and the children who needed more guidance got extra help from neighbors or myself.
In the end I had several children ask if I would do another origami program to teach more animal figures, so that was great to hear. It was a very fun program and I highly recommend folding up some fun at your local library!
Here is the event featured in the News Herald: http://www.news-herald.com/lifestyle/20140202/you-me-origami-folds-up-some-fun-at-morley-library