Stacked in Our Favor

Thoughts about libraries, education, children's literature, writing, art and being connected

Sunday, June 30, 2013


A couple of years ago I had a plan to separate my content into distinctly themed blogs. I had so many ideas and I dreamed big. It turned out, however, that at the same time I inherited some major projects and my change in responsibilities broadened my focus. At this time, posting all school library and kid lit posts to just one blog makes more sense. I will be closing down Picture Book Inspirations and keeping Purple Glasses Club. A few posts, like the one below, will be migrated to this blog. 

Origami Angel (originally posted March 19, 2013 to Picture Book Inspirations)

For years I have been doing origami as part of my story time routine. The kids love and so do I. When I switched schools at the beginning of the school year and met students who I hadn’t seen in years, the first sentence most of them said to me included the word origami.

I wrote an article, Origami as a Teaching Tool in the Elementary Library, a few years back that was published in Library Media Connection in May 2009. It detailed how I use origami in my library program.

With all the push for time on learning I constantly reevaluate what I am doing. For a while I practically cut origami out of my program. After a hiatus I put origami back in…it just made sense. Origami is a great motivator and everything is so much better when students have something to work towards. Still, I started wondering whether I should pre-fold the prizes. Then along came a couple of young boys who totally changed the way I saw the value of origami.

Last Tuesday I was a little discouraged. I needed a little inspiration. I went to pick up my first grade class and a boy handed me a trio of cat puppets.

“See I made these last night. I watched how you made them” he said.

I looked at them in amazement. They were folded almost the same way I folded mine. When I tried to return them, he said “No, those are for you. I have a lot more at home.”

I treasure them.

As if that wasn’t motivation enough for me, later that day I folded a pig puppet for second graders. At the circulation desk a boy told me that he was making pigs at home. His teacher is a great fan of pigs. Another student asked how he learned to do that.

“Oh, I watch Ms. Shoup to learn how. Then I go home and try changing it to make my own things” he said off handedly.

At the beginning of the next day I see his teacher holding an intricate pig mask with an elaborate headdress. The boy was standing beside her pointing up at the mask. There were smiles all around.

The kids are learning all about geometry. Not to worry, I find ways to integrate origami as part of the learning process. I usually make them “pay for” the folds with recalling facts from something we read.

What does this have to do with picture books? When I read a picture book, I try to find an origami that goes with the picture book. The origami is an enticement to sit still, to focus on the story and recall details. The child who wins the origami at the end of class will remember the story as long as they have the prize. This extends the fun far past the moment they leave the room.

It extends mine when I see them clutching their prizes as the leave the school building at the end of the day or hear tales of students who still have them years later. 


dosankodebbie said...

Your heart-warming post reminded me of my sister, an elementary school teacher in Minnesota, who, like me, was born and raised in Japan where origami became second nature to us. She finds origami and other Japanese traditional art-play to be a great vehicle for teaching her kids on many, many subjects.

Lynda Shoup said...

Yes, I can well imagine your sister finds the Japanese traditional art-play valuable in teaching. It is especially effective due to the fact that it is catches the imagination and attention.

As for consolidating, I'm keeping this blog and Reclaiming My Boho Mojo. The other blog is for poetry, art, photography, and happiness. I just participated in the Mad Tea Party. Feel free to stop by for a cup of tea.