I love Christmas! Today I’m sharing my favourite go-to maths “lesson” for the last day of term. I would very happily do this lesson 5 times in a day. And yes, it did, unbelievably, take the class the whole 50 minutes of the lesson! I’ve done the lesson with ages 11-16, but you could definitely do this with younger kids too.
Along with Christmas, I also love origami. I think it’s a brilliant fine motor skill, and I found when teaching that a lot of kids and young people really lack some of the fine motor skills for folding and mathematical drawing and measuring.
So, Christmas meets origami for my last-day maths lesson!
Earch student needs a rectangular piece of paper. I tended to use cheap gold and silver wrapping paper, but in the pictures below I simply used A4 paper. The wrapping paper is easier to fold and more exciting, but you do have to cut it into pieces before the class arrives. They don’t have much patience for watching you cut paper. Ask how I know.
Sorry these pictures aren’t numbered but I will number them in the instructions anyway! After each section I would ask the class a question about the shape they have now folded.
1) start with a rectangular piece of paper and then
2) fold in it half length-ways. What shape is this?
3) unfold the rectangle and now do the trickiest bit of the origami – it’s all downhill from here- take the top right corner and fold it to meet the fold line you have in the middle of your paper. This new crease needs to go exactly to the bottom right corner. What shape is this? (Irregular trapezium) What new angle size have we made? (60 and 120 degrees) ,
4) Now fold the top edge to meet the folded edge. What shape is this? (Pentagon, irregular pentagon, concave pentagon)
5) Take the little bit sticking out from the bottom of the triangle and fold it up. Tuck it inside the triangle. What shape is this? (Equilateral triangle) What size are the angles of this triangle? (60 degrees)
6) Fold the triangle in half. What shape is this? (Scalene, right-angled triangle) What size are the angles? (30, 60 and 90 degrees)
7) Unfold your right angled triangle and fold it again the other two ways so you end up with three crease lines on the equilateral triangle.
8) Fold the top point of the triangle down to meet the crease line on the opposite edge. What shape do we have now? (Isosceles trapezium) What size are the angles? (60, 60, 120 and 120 degrees)
9) Do the same for the other two points. If you have all three of these folded at the same time, what shape do we have? (Equilateral triangle again!)
10) This step is just for the maths teaching! Unfold the little equilateral triangle you had in step 9 and then hold the three points together. What shape do we have now? (Triangular-based pyramid, tetrahedron)
11) Unfold the tetrahedron and flip it over so that the folds you have previously done look like mountains instead of valleys. Now fold the top point down to the centre of the triangle, marked by the creases you made in steps 6-7. What shape do we have now? (Isosceles trapezium) What are the angles? (60, 60, 120 and 120)
12) Fold the other two points in to the centre. What shape do we have now? (Regular hexagon) What size are the angles? (All 120 degrees)
These pictures are in the wrong order…
13) This is the middle picture. You need to turn your hexagon over and this should be really easy to do as you’ve already made all of the creases. Fold like I’ve shown in the picture.
14) The picture on the left: do step 13 for the other two points. You can see I’m holding it down because otherwise it pops open.
15) This is the step where we get the star to hold its shape. This reminds me of when you’re closing a box lid and each of the four flaps needs to be over one of the others and under the next one. You need to tuck the last flap you folded down under the first flap, and then it will stay. Bunny couldn’t wait much longer to have the star at this point…
16) Turn it over and you’re done! What a beautiful Christmas star.
You can look for the easier answers to questions or more difficult ones, depending on the age and understanding of your students (it is meant to be a review after all!). As I was writing this I worked out that you could ask about the angles, which makes a nice extension to the activity. You could ask them to work it out in their heads through knowledge of the total internal angle of a polygon or by using a protractor.
To sum up, I find this a nice, relaxing lesson – students are happy to do it because it seems like a fluffy lesson but you can actually extend it to have some great learning and review applications.
I hope it gives you some ideas for your last few days at school this year, if you’re not already on holiday.