Physical Space

Painless Origami for the Choice-Based Space

Table-top centers are a great way to introduce new media in your TAB or choice-based classroom. They also make a great free-time area without taking up much space. Just get a box, label it, fill it with materials, tools, and resources, and students can set it up on any table in the classroom.

My table-top origami center has proven to be a much more effective way to teach origami. By offering origami as a choice and flipping the instruction with resources, students can work at their own pace on projects of their own interest!


Here’s what I include in my origami table-top center:

1. A box

I like cube boxes because they fit snugly on bookshelves. Post some information on the front, such as what students will find in the box and how to take care of it.


2. Origami paper

I’ve organized my paper by size and given students a limit. Limits prevent students from throwing away materials without thinking. My students know that limits can be increased with teacher permission if they work for more than one week or for special projects requiring more paper.


3. Origami Books

Label these books by level, and remind students to choose origami books like they choose reading books. Students are welcome to ask for teacher help along the way but should be able to work independently or with the help of a friend.


I teach students about the table of contents in the front, the “how to fold” section, and that some books get more challenging toward the back, so starting in the front will help build their skills.

4. Origami Printouts


I’ll add a few special origami printouts to meet students’ interests or for the season to keep things fresh. Origami Yoda Books have some awesome origami nets you can photocopy and printout for your Star Wars fans!

5. Bone Folders

I love to have students use “real” artist tools. Bone Folders make folds crisp and clean. Number these bone folders so you don’t lose any!

High-Tech Origami Resources:

If your students BYOD or have access to tablets or computers, these are some great ways to use tech to supplement your origami center:

  • Origami Apps: How to Make Origami, Origami Paper Art: Step by Step
  • Online Videos: My students use the internet to find origami videos. This not only is a great resource, but it also teaches them how to use online resources in a responsible manner.
  • Flip Your Instruction: Create your own video teaching kids an origami project. This way they can pause, rewind, and watch it at home!

Resist the urge to teach struggling students step-by-step! Although you can assist on a difficult fold, table-top centers like this one should teach your students independence as an artist, not add another lesson to your class time. When you find a student attempting to work beyond their skillset, gently direct them to a page or book that is more on their level. Origami skills build on themselves, and soon they’ll be able to tackle more challenging material.

Do you have a choice area or run a choice-based classroom? How do you promote independence?

Do you teach your students origami? Share any challenges, tip or tricks below.

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Kelly Phillips

Kelly Phillips is an elementary school art educator and a former AOEU Writer. They strive to create an environment where all students can become independent, self-directed risk-takers.

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