Math Crafts: Make an Origami Ball

Math Crafts: Make an Origami Ball

I’m super-excited about posting this STEAM project today (science, technology, engineering, ART, and math). Because this isn’t one of my projects – it’s made by my teenage son! He has LOVED origami since he was in grade school, and even now as a junior in high school will still take on challenging paper folding projects just for fun (especially when he is bored on summer break!). Just this week he made a super-intricate origami dragon that took him almost an hour to complete. That’s a serious boredom-buster activity!

This origami ball is very easy, but takes a little patience. Kids have to make 30 pieces to assemble into the geometric ball. Here’s our latest video from our YouTube channel, starring my son the origami king!

And here are photo/written instructions on how to make each piece. Remember, if you get lost anywhere in these written instructions, the video shows the exact same thing. So double check the video if you aren’t sure what to do next!

First you need to know that there are two kinds of folds in origami: mountain folds and valley folds. This simply tells you which direction to fold, and is easy and almost self explanatory: A mountain fold has a peak that points up, and a valley fold has a peak that goes down.

You’ll need 30 pieces of origami paper (best deal I’ve found is this), we used standard 15 cm square pieces (which is about 5 7/8″ inches). You can use whatever colors you want, or all one color. We used 5 colors, and made six pieces of each.

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Start by folding the square in half diagonally, making a full fold, and then again in the other direction diagonally, just pinching the middle crease to determine the center of the square. These are valley folds!

Origami ball instructions - step 1

Fold the two outside corners into the center of the square as shown above. Now fold the outside edges into the center again on top of these folds as shown below. Again, all valley folds.

Origami ball instructions - step 2

Fold the outside corners in so that all the white side is covered, see above. Now fold each end in opposite directions, making a sharp pointed corner on each end of the piece as shown below:

Origami ball instructions - step 3

Next simply open up the existing folds slightly to tuck the corners you just made into the inside of the piece, as shown below:

Origami ball instructions - step 4

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Now flip it over and fold those corners into the center of the piece. Do this on both ends, even though only the first one is shown below. The second fold is shown in the following photo. Valley folds again!

Origami ball instructions - step 5

Now you have a square again, and fold it backwards along the open diagonal – this is the only mountain fold you’ll do on this piece.

Origami ball instructions - step 6

Once you put it down, it looks like this, top view and bottom view:

Origami ball instructions - piece completed!

Now make 30 more and come back to the video to learn how to assemble it and put it together! I’d love to give you written instructions, but putting it together is hard to explain and easy to show you in the video. Making the pieces takes a while, but putting it together only takes a few minutes and is definitely the most satisfying part of this project!

You might also be interested in this DIY paper boat origami craft that can easily be turned into a STEM project.

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About the author

Founder and CEO of Woo! Jr. Kids Activities, Wendy loves creating crafts, activities and printables that help teachers educate and give parents creative ways to spend time with their children.

View all articles by Wendy Piersall

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