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1000 Paper Cranes for Japan

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Keywords: Origami, Art, Japan, Paper Crane, Document Camera
Subject(s): Art
Grades 3 through 5
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Rita Drabek Elementary School, Sugar Land, TX
Planned By: Michele Rose
Original Author: Michele Rose, Sugar Land
I will begin this lesson by giving each students a small origami piece with a note written inside(made by my older students). I will ask them to open their notes and refold them exactly as they were. Some will be able to do this, most wonít. I will explain how origami is an ancient tradition and When origami was first brought to Japan, only the rich practiced the art of folding paper into shapes. The shape creation was a way of adding special meaning to what the paper held on it or in it.

For love notes, origami was doubly special. First, the origami shape itself could represent a message. The selection of color and shape help conveyed the true emotions of the writer. Second, origami is an intricate art. If the love note was intercepted, it would be unlikely that the reader could perfectly refold the shape. So the origami love note was very secure - it could not be read by the wrong person without the recipient knowing it. Students can relate this information to their activity of opening their origami note.

I will show students a short power point presentation on Japan, its people, culture, and arts, specifically origami. Origami has held an honored place in ceremonies that were of great importance. Origami was used at births, weddings, and funerals to help commemorate the occasion in a unique, hand-crafted manner. The origami figures would be treasured by participants for years afterwards.
After the presentation we will discuss the recent earthquakes and tsunamiís in Japan and how they affected the people who live there. I will read the book by Eleanor Coerr, Sadako and the Thousand Cranes. The story is about Sadako, a young Japanese girl who suffered from leukemia because of the atomic bomb that was dropped over Hiroshima when she was two years old. "Tsuru" the crane, is an ancient Japanese symbol of long-life, hope, good luck and happiness. She believed that if she folded 1000 paper cranes her wish to get well and live and a long life would come true. Sadako said of the cranes,
"I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world."
However, Sadako became very weak towards the end and was only able to fold 644 paper cranes before she died.

Japanese Mythology believed the crane live for 1,000 years. Japanese culture has treasured the crane as a symbol of honor, loyalty and peace. For that reason we are going to honor the Japanese people by our working together to create 1000 cranes. We will then put together the cranes to make a mobile to hang in our school foyer.

Using the Document Camera I will demonstrate how to fold a paper crane step by step. Students will work along with the teacher to complete the project. Those who are most successful can demonstrate for a second practice and help others. Student examples will also be shown on the document camera. Once students have successfully mastered making a crane they will each make 9 cranes in various colors for the grade level project.

This will prepare students to make other more advanced Origami projects and gain a better understanding of the Japanese culture.

This project is great for elementary school students in the upper grades because it will reach many different learning styles, multiple intelligences, and can be applied across the curriculum. Students will learn through creating art, applying current events knowledge to new situations, and by using their manipulative and listening skills. It also teaches empathy for others in our world.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
History, Social Studies, Art, Math, Science
Students will see how long it takes them to make 1 paper crane. They will then use that information to figure how long it took Sadako to make 1000 paper cranes. Students will also make more complex origami designs of their choice.
Materials: Video Cameras, Video Tools, Cause and Effect
Other Items: 1 ELMO TT-02RX Document Camera with $100 Matching Grant, $618.25 each, total of $618.25