Some more very simple ideas
Following on from the simple dog puppet in the previous post, here are some more ideas. I started thinking about other simple origami finger-puppets that you could make with your students.
I always enjoyed origami when I was a child. There was a programme on British TV hosted by a magician called Robert Harbin. He’d start with just a simple square of paper. But after 10 minutes he’d produce a fabulous swan or some other amazing creation! Before the programme started, my sister and I would prepare our squares of paper. (We’d cut them out of the previous night’s local paper, the Liverpool Echo). Then we’d try to copy what he did. Sadly, mine always looked like a bit of scrunched up newspaper! But that didn’t discourage us, and we’d be looking forward to watching the next programme. My mum saw that we were keen to do some origami and probably hoped it’d keep us quiet! Anyway, eventually – after a lot of pestering – she bought us some ‘proper’ paper. And the results with paper you could properly fold were just amazing! As you can see, I get just as much enjoyment from it now!
So why is origami so good for young learners, and especially young learners of English?
Well, the first thing is that you can clearly see the language in context. It’s a true TPR (Total Physical Response) lesson. The teacher gives very simple instructions, eg ‘fold it in half’, ‘do the same again’, ‘turn it over’, ‘make a triangle’, ‘make a square’. Together with the demonstration, younger learners can easily follow and make their origami finger puppet.
Not only that, it makes a great introduction to geometrical shapes. It also helps with the understanding of very simple concepts like width, length and height.
It can also be used to introduce and visualise fractions, eg ‘Fold the piece of paper in half’.’ ‘And then in half again’ or (as in the origami puppet dog), ‘ Fold the piece of paper in thirds’. This brings the concept much more to life.
As well as being good for English and maths, it helps develop other modalities of learning styles. It’s especially good for improving spatial visualisation skills. It’s also great for learners who prefer to learn by doing.
Also, in this fast-paced video world, making origami finger-puppets is a very calming activity for students. It keeps them focused too.
And finally, if not most importantly, it’s cheap (especially if you use recycled paper), it takes very little preparation by the teacher and it’s fun too!