Folding and Poem-ing: National Poetry Month Activities for Kids

National Poetry Month is almost here!

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Each year the month of April is set aside as National Poetry Month, a time to celebrate poets and their craft. Various events are held throughout the month by the Academy of American Poets and other poetry organizations

With this in mind, I decided to share two amazing ways to keep young hands busy and young minds learning. Let\’s combine paper folding and poetry!

The boy sat so quietly in the back of the room with a stack of colored paper, his fingers were nearly flying as he folded sheet after sheet of colorful origami paper into fanciful animals. Once he’d folded a zoo’s worth of animals, I watched him play with them, talk to them and give them quirky personalities. His paper animals seemed almost real and I found myself thinking that while an adult may create art for art’s sake, children extend their art into their own lives through imaginative play.

 

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Fold Me a Poem is a delightful book by Kristine O’Connell that brings poetry to life through the art of paper folding, also-known-as Origami. Kristine O’Connell George is one of the principal voices in contemporary children’s poetry. Since her first highly-acclaimed book, The Great Frog Race was published in 1997, her poetry has generated excitement and earned honors and praise.

Join a young boy as he creates a world filled with origami creatures of all shapes and sizes out of an array of brightly colored paper. From roosters waking up and buffalo pawing the tablecloth to cheetahs racing lions and moths that yearn for butterfly colors, here is a glimpse into the vibrant imagination of a child. Award-winning author Kristine O\’Connell George\’s thirty-two spirited poems combine seamlessly with celebrated artist Lauren Stringer\’s luminous illustrations to create a poetry collection that is truly like no other.

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Kristine offers tips on her website and even a downloadable Teachers Guide for Origami folding. We hope you enjoy folding some animals of your own experimenting with different shapes and styles.

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The story Fold Me a Poem includes 32 brief poems that focus on a boy as he folds a series of origami animals. As he creates, he imagines their thoughts and possible activities. Fold Me a Poem is a wonderful example of a book being more than the sum of its parts. Inside the covers of this stunning creation, the poems and illustrations blend to create a picture book that is both inspiring and entertaining.

When I was reading Kristine’s bio and info on her website, I was struck by her comments about the first time she saw illustrator Lauren Stringer’s renderings for the Fold Me a Poem book. Here’s an excerpt;

I was startled when I first saw Lauren Stringer’s sketches for FOLD ME A POEM: She had painted what was inside my head! I’ve never met Lauren and we didn’t communicate while she was working on the book. So, how did she know that I’d visualized the camel leaning against the salt shaker? Spooky! Most importantly, Lauren clearly saw that this book was not only about origami but was also an exploration of a child’s joy in creating art and weaving that art into a deeply personal, imaginative world. I love Lauren Stringer’s evocative art; the Internet doesn’t do justice to the gorgeous full-page spreads and her vibrant colors!

Something To Do:

Let’s create our own Origami characters! When doing origami with children I love to use 12 x 12 scrapbooking paper. It’s large enough to let little hands figure out all of the folding on a larger surface. Once they learn it they usually like to work on smaller paper. Enjoy!

A Whale of a Tale:

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Start with a 12″x12″ piece of square paper. Pattern side down.
Turn paper so a corner is at the top and the bottom.
Fold the right corner to the left corner to make a triangle.
Open it back up.
Fold the left and right sides to meet the crease in the center.
Fold the top tip down to meet the folded sides.
Fold the entire whale in half.
Rotate it 90 degrees so that the tip is on the left.
Fold the point of the whale up to make the tail.
Turn it over and here’s your whale. Feel free to draw a face.

Here Kitty, Kitty:

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Start with a 12″x12″ piece of square paper.
Fold it corner to corner, color side out to make a triangle.
Fold the left corner to the right corner to make a smaller triangle
Now unfold the triangle so it lays flat again. This is your center line
Fold each side corner upwards to make the ears.
Fold the top corner down towards you.
Flip the cat over and draw eyes, ear, nose, and mouth.

Folding and “Poeming”

After your children or students have created the origami creature of their choice, invite them to think about what kinds of poems they might write about their creatures. Three possibilities are:

1.Students can write about folding their creatures. (Process Poems)

2.Students can speak directly to their creature. (Apostrophe Poems)

3.Students can pretend to be their creatures. (Mask or Persona Poems)

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