More Origami Please!

A couple months ago, my son started making origami fortune tellers with his friends. By the way, 8 year olds come up with some bizarre “fortunes”. He showed his younger sister and soon she was making fortune tellers for her kindergarten friends too. The last few weeks they have been working through various projects (e.g., boats, fans, balls) in the book Origami Magic.  Recently, we read a lovely picture book about origami. It is our math book magic selection this week.

The Book

Published by Candlewick in 2016, More-igami was written by Dori Kleber and illustrated by G. Brian Karas.


Joey loves things that fold: maps, beds, accordions. His interest in foldables increases after watching his classmate’s mother turn an ordinary piece of paper into a beautiful origami crane. Joey sets out to learn origami. However, not everyone appreciates the amount of practice it takes to become an origami master. Especially since Joey has taken to folding his homework, his mother’s money,  and his sister’s sheet music. Luckily, Joey finds a way to fold to his heart’s content and becomes the origami master he set out to be.

Karas’s sweet, warmly lit lustrations are the perfect backdrop for Kleber’s simple, beautiful story about the power of perseverance. Even the book pages, with their faux-fold lines drawn in, seem as though Joey used them as well to practice his origami:) The end pages include a simple origami ladybug project, a perfect first step to becoming an origami master.

End pages: More-igami byDori Kleber and G. Brian Karas


The Math

The mathematician and physicist Martin David Kruskal said this of origami:

Origami helps in the study of mathematics and science in many ways…Using origami anyone can become a scientific experimenter with no fuss.

It was Kruskal’s mother,  Lillian Rose Vorhaus Kruskal Oppenheimer, that inspired his love of origami. Lilian was an American origami pioneer and founded the Origami Center of America in New York City, which later became OrigamiUSA. (Aside: Kruskal invented the Kruskal Count, a magical effect that has been known to perplex professional magicians because – as he liked to say – it was based not on sleight of hand but on a mathematical phenomenon.)  [Source: Wikipedia]

Origami has a meditative algorithmic process associated with it where the folder creates geometric shapes and uses symmetry. Around every fold, are opportunities to discover patterns, relationships and properties of shapes.  The geometric shapes front and center in More-igami are pyramids.

Here are some pyramids Liam and Siena made (see Magic section for more)

Additionally, the main message in More-igami around practice and perseverance are important reminders to anyone doing mathematics.

For more on the math/origami connection, here’s a TED video about how origami and math are tools for scientific invention and exploration.


The Magic

This story was a delight to read. From the OMG! from both Liam and Siena when Joey decides to use his homework for his origami practice, to when Liam exclaimed “He finally did it!” after Joey successfully makes an origami crane.

After reading the book, Siena immediately rushed off to get some paper to make a lady bug shown in the end pages in the book (see above). She proceed to make one herself, easily following the instructions. Liam was impressed: “Wow, Siena you’re good at origami.”

They both wanted to make the pyramid that Joey made in the story. I found the video below on youtube and we went to work. As we watched it, Liam’s eyes widened at the mention of the Water Bomb (a project that is a step after the pyramid). I predict a lot of wet origami paper bits in my backyard this spring/summer.

Liam was successful rather quickly with the pyramid. For Siena, making the pyramid was a lesson in practice and perseverance. Her first few attempts had holes in the base. I suggested she used these as pencil toppers. But she was not convinced this was an option. Frustrated, she gave up, stomping up to her room in tears.


But after a while, she returned to try again.

IMG_9347After about 3 more pyramids with holes at the bottom. Success! A pyramid with no hole at the base.


We are planning to start practicing origami cranes after school today. Just like Joey, they are on their way to becoming origami masters.

Have a magical math book you’d like share? Please go to the Shared booklist to find out how.  If you’d like to receive these magical math book posts every other Monday, be sure to follow this blog in the side bar of this page.

Thanks and see you in two weeks!  #mathbookmagic

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