STEAM Origami Cranes with Gelli Arts® with Regina Scott Lesson Plan


  • Students Will Be Able To (SWBAT) complete a hands-on activity that teach origami.
  • SWBAT define the word origami.
  • SWBAT learn about the history of origami.
  • SWBAT improve motor skills through careful folding, necessary for origami.
  • SWBAT develop multicultural awareness by exploring Japanese history.
  • SWBAT improve their ability to follow directions through the creation of origami.


  • What is origami?
  • Why is origami a unique style of sculpture?
  • What is the significance of origami in the Japanese culture?
  • What role does math play in the construction of origami?


  • 8×10 Gelli Arts® Student Plate
  • Brayers
  • Acrylic paint in multiple colors
  • Mark making tools
  • Stencils
  • Thin paper to print on such as copy paper or rice paper: at least one 8×8 piece per student (teacher choice)
  • Newsprint
  • Masking tape (to tape newsprint to table)
  • Pencils
  • Baby wipes
  • Aprons, wood craft stick (optional), and handout with origami directions.


Origami – the art or process, originally Japanese, of paper folding.

Japan – An island nation in between the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, consisting of the main islands of Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and over 3000 smaller islands.

Crane – any long-necked long-legged wading bird, inhabiting marshes and plains in most parts of the world except South America, New Zealand, and Indonesia. A symbol of peace.

Migration – A crane’s flight from a colder to a warmer climate.

Echelon – The V-formation in which cranes fly.


The teacher should take this opportunity to take about Japan and Asian Art. Students will take time alone or in groups to answer the essential questions. The class should discuss these questions and answers. The teacher will have artist examples and previous student/teacher exemplars for the lesson. The teacher demonstrates to the class how to use the Gelli Arts® printing plate and how to fold the crane. The teacher should demonstrate how to fold the crane to the class and then also do the steps together with the class!


Encourage the students to make a soft fold to check that the lines and edges meet up where they are supposed to, so they avoid unnecessary waste! After students have made their adjustments, they can make a sharp crease using their fingernail or a wood craft stick. Right side is the front of the print and wrong side is the back of the print.

  • Step One: Start with a square piece of paper right side away from you. Fold in half diagonally to make a triangle.
  • Step Two: Fold this triangle in half by bringing the left corner and folding it to the right corner.
  • Step Three: Take the top flap and open it, creasing the left and right sides so you can fold the top/right corner to the bottom corner.
  • Step Four: Now turn the paper over and repeat step three on this side. You now have a diamond shape.
  • Step Five: Take both sides of the top layer and fold them in to meet at the middle, then unfold. This is preparation for the next step.
  • Step Six: Open the flap upwards, creasing on the horizontal kite line, and fold the left and right sides inward.
  • Step Seven: Flip over your piece and repeat steps five and six on this side. You now have a long diamond shape.
  • Step Eight: Take the upper layer of both sides and fold the lower parts into the center line.
  • Step Nine: Turn the paper over and repeat step eight on this side. At this point, your piece will look like a longer, thin diamond with two “legs” at the bottom.
  • Step Ten: Take the right flap and fold it over to the left flap.
  • Step Eleven: Flip the whole piece over and repeat step ten to this side.
  • Step Twelve: Take the bottom flap and fold it up to the top of the piece.
  • Step Thirteen: Flip the paper over and repeat step twelve to this side.
  • Step Fourteen: Take the top layer of the right flap and fold it over to the left side.
  • Step Fifteen: Flip it over and repeat step fourteen on this side.
  • Step Sixteen: Take the left and right pieces underneath the top flap and pull them out from the main piece. Crease the bottom of those pieces so they will stay spread out.
  • Step Seventeen: Take one of those pieces that you pulled out and slightly open the top corner so that you can bend a portion of it down to form the head. After bending a portion down, crease the sides of the head so the piece will stay bent.
  • Step Eighteen: Bend the wings down at a 90-degree angle and voila! You have made a beautiful origami crane!

*If you’re feeling really adventurous, try making 1,000 cranes with your students!


  • Science – Discuss the nature of the crane, such as its habitat, its lineage, its eating habits, etc.
  • Math – Research the folding process involved in creating a paper crane. What shapes are created if you unfold the crane? Practice creating equal fractions, folding in halves, thirds, etc.
  • Reading – Find other literature based on the crane or origami. Follow folding directions from other origami animals or shapes. Research the Japanese culture.

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