Tag Archives: origami

Guest post: Summer update and Moses materials

Our church’s Sunday school program runs year round, so I have been teaching while my wife is in Dallas for Montessori training. I am looking forward to her return at the end of the month for many reasons. One of them is so that I can introduce her to our wonderful new group of Sunday school students.

We sent our fourth graders from last year on to the fifth and sixth grade class and welcomed a new group of children in June. We have begun the year working on the Old Testament. We started with a presentation on Abraham inspired by this lovely YouTube version from a church in Rye, New York. We paid special attention to the covenants that God made with Abraham: that from Abraham’s small family God would make a great nation, that Abraham’s descendants would dwell in a land of promise, and especially that through Abraham’s family, God would bless all the nations of the earth. Over the next few weeks we will be reflecting on stories of Joseph, Moses, and David. We will be thinking about how these stories show God’s faithfulness to the covenants he made with Abraham.

This week, we will be starting Moses. I made some new materials that I thought I would share with the blog. Here are Miriam, Moses, and Pharaoh’s daughter.

Miriam, Moses, and Pharoah's Daughter

I made Miriam and Pharaoh’s daughter from my wife’s pattern. To make Moses, I used a wooden peg with a round head I found at Hobby Lobby. I cut the peg down and wrapped it with strips of muslin. I glued the bottom layer of muslin to the peg because I didn’t want Moses’s swaddling to come off while students were working with the material.

Pegs

Moses’s basket is a classic origami model called an inside out boat. Here is a video tutorial.

Moses and basket

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Guest post: Origami models

Mr. Montessori Sunday here again with another guest post . . .

I enjoy doing origami, and some of our Sunday School students have shared that hobby. They have contributed models to our class worship center.

Someone asked us about lessons incorporating origami models. We haven’t done origami as a whole group activity. For those who are not into it, origami can be more frustrating than it is worth. However, origami can be a great addition to the other choices during reflection time. The quiet concentration it requires fits well with the other reflective activities.

Here are links to some models that we have found related well to our stories.

origami heartThis origami heart is simple enough for beginners. It is a great way to introduce origami to people who haven’t done it before.

origami sheepWe have had several of these origami sheep in our worship center. They work well with inexpensive paper that is white on one side.

origami doveIn the story of the presentation of Jesus at the temple, we needed some turtle doves that were approximately to scale of our clothespin people. I folded two miniature versions of this origami dove model. It is a beautiful model that looks nice in a large size too.

Are there any origami projects that you have used with your class? I could imagine a wonderful origami box for the pearl of great price or a modular origami star of Bethlehem.

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Montessori Sunday

A few weeks ago our class finished the Book of Mormon section of our curriculum. After each story I had always let the children explore the materials, but it was never long enough. My co-teacher and I thought it would be great if the children could work with the materials directly, retelling the stories using the figures for the entire class period one day.

The Plan

Our plan was to let the children choose a story to work with, individually or with a friend. Then, after the child finished working with a story he could choose a different story, choose to draw a picture, choose to write, or choose to read a book from our book basket. I also set up a little prayer center flanked by a couple of artificial trees where someone could go if he needed quiet. The work cycle would continue up until the end of class when we would all meet together and talk about our experience, briefly.

The Preparation

In order for this to happen I spent a couple of weeks organizing the materials. I found some photo boxes about the size of a shoe box on sale at the local craft store. I placed all the necessary peg people and story miniatures in each box. I created booklets for each story. I bought a portable bookcase that could hold the boxes. I had an incredible amount of fun doing all of this.

A couple of weeks before the big day I started prepping the children during Sunday School. I talked about how to handle the materials carefully while I was setting up my stories. I told them about the upcoming day when they would be telling the stories too.

To say I was excited about this day was an extraordinary understatement. I could hardly sleep the night before. I wanted to see which stories the children would choose. I wanted to see what art responses they came up with. I wanted to see how they would handle the freedom. I hoped, above all, that the day would bring them closer to God.

Montessori Sunday, at last!

The day finally arrived. After I gave an introduction of the plan for the day, one of the children offered prayer. He prayed that we would all “be careful of the materials” and that the “Holy Spirit would be with us.” He covered it well. One by one I dismissed each child to choose a work, and a partner if he liked. Soon all the children were working with a story. A couple of children came in late so my co-teacher and I worked with them one-on-one with a story.

I had a wonderful time working with a girl using the Enos story. We had a chance to connect and think about each part of the story that mattered most to her. When she finished the story and went to put it back on the shelf I looked around the room. Everyone was working with a story. I heard expressive voices retelling parts. I heard them asking each other questions. I saw them showing each other interesting things about the materials. I was very encouraged.

After some groups of children finished one story, they started right in on another story that was available on the shelf. One boy made a beeline for the art materials and began a great work of drawing; he worked on it for the entire rest of the period hardly noticing what was going on around him.

Others didn’t know what to do after they were finished with the story, but it just took a little prompting for them to find another work.  One girl asked me what she should draw. I encouraged her to think about something very important to her, maybe something that she was thinking about when she was working with the story. She ended up drawing a 3-D cross with sunshine.

Reflection

In our whole group reflection time at the end of class the overall consensus was very positive. They liked working with each other and they wanted to do it again. They all seemed quite happy. One boy and a girl thought that they would like it if they could tell the story to the whole class; others said they liked working with the story with just one other person. One boy said he hadn’t learned anything new because he already knew the stories. Honesty is appreciated. Another boy said he liked making up sound effects and music as he told the story. Interesting.

After the bell rang I inspected each box. Inside, everything had been placed back carefully—the peg people lined up in a row, the booklet neatly on top. I looked at the artwork they had completed. The boy who had made a beeline for the artwork had created a very detailed drawing of Nephi building a ship. Yes, there was even a bit of origami that was placed in our little worship center by someone who had not contributed to the center yet.

I was struck by how peaceful the whole time had been. Except for the small help in choosing a next activity neither one of us teachers had to interfere with the children. We had been blessed.

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Who has seen the wind?

Pinwheel and fish windsock
A couple of weeks ago one of the children made some more origami gifts for our classroom—a tiny fish windsock and a pinwheel.  I wasn’t sure how they related to anything sacred in particular, and was not sure where I could put them. Still, I kept thinking about them.

Later that week as I was thinking about class and the origami; I remembered a passage in the Bible where Jesus compared the wind to the Spirit of God, and being born of the Spirit—John 3:1-8. Since the story I was preparing for the coming Sunday was about being born of the Spirit and our church’s monthly theme was the Spirit of God, I decided to use the scripture passage to open class.

At the beginning of our class I showed the children the origami windsock and pinwheel. There were only three children this Sunday as many families had gone out-of-town for the long weekend. The little girl who made the origami gifts wasn’t even present, much to my disappointment.

The class made comments about the purposes of the windsock and pinwheel, guessed who had made them, and how they worked. I blew across the pinwheel, and it spun around to our mutual delight. I told them that the windsock and pinwheel had reminded me of a scripture passage. Then I read the entire passage, verses 1-8, to the class. A girl offered prayer, then I re-read the part about the wind again.

Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one who is born of the Spirit.
John 3:7-8

I said, “Isn’t it interesting that the wind is invisible, yet we can still tell it is there.” At that moment all four of us turned to look out the window. Outside, the wind was softly blowing the branches of the trees up and down. A shriveled leaf fluttered, still clinging to a branch. Dried brown seed pods nodded their heads together. We sat there in stillness for a few moments. Then a boy said quietly, “I never thought of that before.”

I asked them if they had ever felt or noticed the Spirit of God before. There was silence for a few seconds and one boy said thoughtfully, “I don’t really know if I have.” He didn’t sound worried though,  just completely honest, almost like a person contemplating a new journey. Then the girl shared that she had felt the Spirit of God before and that it felt “kind-of warm.”

I really appreciate how open and honest our class can be with each other about the wonders of God. I’m so glad the girl made the origami windsock and pinwheel for our class. Today they sit in a vase in our little worship center.

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Sensitive period for…Origami?

holding a paper crane

The children in our Sunday School class seem to have a great need to fold paper—almost a drive to do origami. Over the last few months I’ve noticed a tendency for found scraps of paper to be transformed. At first I thought just one or two children had a special interest in origami. These children have helped decorate our classroom with origami animals (all God’s creatures, right.) However, a few Sundays ago an interesting phenomenon appeared.

My co-teacher prepared a bingo-like review game for them to play during class. Each child had a paper game board and a set of stickers (instead of tokens) with which to mark their board. I read a clue out loud and the children searched for the correct scripture character on their paper board. We did it cooperatively, helping each other with the answers. The game went along just fine. Then, suddenly, when everyone reached blackout, there was a great explosion!

It was an explosion of origami! Some children started folding the waxy paper backing from their stickers. Others started squaring their rectangular game board to prepare it for origami. All of this happened in about ten seconds flat. It was if the flood gates had sprung open and their hands were finally free to work!

I suppose one might think there was disorder at this point, but actually it was quite peaceful. Everyone was working diligently on his or her own creation, sharing various triumphs within the folding process with his or her neighbor. They seemed quite satisfied.

I wonder how we can incorporate more work like this into our classroom. It also makes me wonder if there is a sensitive period for origami, or transformations from 2-D to 3-D. Are there any elementary Montessori teachers out there? Is this part of the mathematical mind developing? What do you think?

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