Stay Cool With Origami

Length of Program

60 minutes

Program Description

Teens will learn how to create origami fish and other marine creatures.  With paper and imagination, they will create intricate works of art.  Teens will enjoy escaping the summer heat and learning the art of paper folding in the cool environment of the library.

Developmental Needs and Assets

This program fulfills teens’ developmental need for creative expression and their need to learn and achieve.  It also provides opportunities for positive social interactions with peers and adults.  Developmental assets supported by the program include constructive use of time, commitment to learning, and social competencies.  For more information about positive developmental assets for young adults, visit the Search-Institute website at

Preparation and Promotion

Select books about origami with folding diagrams for display during the program. You may wish to purchase or borrow Origami Sea Life by John Montroll. 

Make copies of origami diagrams from books and web sites.  If teens have access to the Internet and printers, they can print free diagrams.  If computer access is not available during the program, print some of the instructions in advance to distribute.  Instructions can be found at Joe Wu’s Origami Page, and at K’s Origami,

Purchase multicolored origami paper and/or specialty design origami paper with patterns.  It is available from most art supply stores and from Art Supplies Online at You will also find origami books with paper at your local bookstores and at

To promote this program, create a display of origami aquatic creatures and other animals along with several books about origami.  You will find instructions to make some on the following websites.  You may wish to bookmark these for the teens.

Fish Origami by Tammy Yee

Origami Fish at The Art of Japan

Making an Origami Fish

Books to Display

  • Complete Book of Origami: Step-by-Step Instructions in over 1,000 Diagrams / 48 Original Models by Robert J. Lang.
  • Origami by Anne Akers Johnson.
  • Origami With Dollar Bills: Another Way to Impress People With Your Money by Duy Nguyen.
  • Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr and Ronald Himler.
  • Under the Sea Origami by Duy Nguyen.

Books to Booktalk

  • The Big Wave by Pearl Buck.
  • The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth.
  • The Letters by Kazumi Yumoto.
  • The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Paterson.

Bulletin Board

Cover the board with colored butcher paper and add the heading “Fold Away the Heat!” across the top. Attach several origami aquatic creatures to the board along with unfolded diagrams. Use Origami Sea Life by John Montroll, available from Dover Publications,, if you need patterns for an assortment of sea creatures.

A display may also be made with origami created by teens, or Origami USA has a traveling exhibit of outstanding origami made by children. Reservations can be made at


Serve Chinese fortune cookies, which look like origami, or prepackaged Japanese food snacks, such as wasabi peas or rice crackers. These may be purchased at grocery stores and from Asian Food Grocer at


Give away origami paper, diagrams, and/or books. Dover Publications,, sells small-format origami books for less than $4.00 each, before discounts for bulk orders.

Games and Activities


Origami is an ancient art that has been around for hundreds of years. Explain the history of origami while allowing teens to choose a project from the books provided. Have a copy machine available to make copies of the diagrams, or make them in advance. Divide the teens into groups or allow them to work individually to fold the various creatures they have chosen. After everyone is finished folding their creatures, have the group come back together and discuss their experience folding. Let them offer tips to each other. Suggest that the teens create their own diagrams and provide several examples to use as inspiration.

Origami Quiz

Print copies of the online quiz at The Art of Japan, Challenge the teens to find the answers using library resources. Have a prize for the teen that gets the most answers right.

Guest Speakers

Invite a local origami expert or group to demonstrate the art of origami and teach some techniques. Michaels, Hobby Lobby, or the craft section of Wal-Mart would be a good place to look for local experts. Some cities have specialty scrapbooking and art supply stores where the staff may also have suggestions.

Professional Resources

Origami Sea Life by John Montroll.

The Art of Japan

This site provides a multiple-choice quiz about the history and origins of origami.  You will find instructions for making an origami fish at

Asian Food Grocer

This San Francisco-based grocery store sells every kind of Asian food imaginable.

Dover Publications

This publisher produces inexpensive books that include many art projects and copyright-free designs.

Fish Origami by Tammy Yee

Joe Wu’s Origami Page

A master folder provides detailed instructions for a variety of skill levels.

K’s Origami

This site has drawings, a gallery, and diagrams for making many different animals.

Making an Origami Fish

Origami USA

In addition to providing examples and directions for origami, this organization sponsors a traveling exhibit.


Texas Reading Club 2007 Programming Manual / Sail Away with Books!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011