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Origami Boat Tutorial

A few weeks ago Bean and I learned how to make origami boats. I promised my lovely community on Instagram that I would share a tutorial, and I've finally found the time and space to do just that.

These little boats are relatively simple to make, and actually float! You can waterproof them by dipping them in melted beeswax if you want them to last a little longer. This is the origami paper we used (aff link), which we found lasted well in the water as it has a slightly shiny surface. It is beautiful paper too, but any paper will work.


Step 1: Begin with a rectangular piece of paper. We cut our square sheets of origami paper in half to achieve a rectangle. Fold the rectangle in half as shown.

Step 2: Partially fold the paper again to create a crease at the top. You can see the crease in the second photo here. This crease will become your guide for folding down the corners.

Step 3: Fold both top corners down, using your crease line as a guide, to meet in the middle. You will have created a hat shape. Then fold the bottom edge of the paper up on either side. Place your fingers inside to open it up into a hat!

We had to abandon our first attempt at making a boat at this point, as Bean was very happy with the hat, and wanted to find a way to secure it to her doll!

Step 4: Bring the corners of the hat brim together, which forces the edges of the brim outwards. You're aiming to gently squash the hat into a square. Tuck the corners in neatly, so that they overlap one another.

Step 5: Take the bottom corner of the square and fold it upwards. Flip the piece over and do the same on the other side. You now have a folded triangle.

Step 6: Place your fingers inside the triangle to open it up. Bring the corners together, which forces the edges outwards, and gently squash down into a square.

Step 7: Lastly, pull the outer corners of the square, one in each hand. Keep pulling to unfold your boat. To help it balance and float, turn your boat over and use your fingers to expand the hole in the bottom.

Bean loved this process so much, and once she had mastered the technique, she wanted to make lots of boats. She experimented with making her own paper boats, of different sizes and designs, and worked on some of her own origami creations. Of course, we had to test them out on the water too.

Multiplication with origami boats

We used the origami boats to explore the concept of multiplication using some of the small loose parts from our Spielgaben set.

Bean added three little counters to each boat (each counter represented an actual person in Bean's immediate family and friendship group) and we took turns to make up mathematical stories. I always start this process, but Bean ultimately takes over.

For example... It's a beautiful spring day, and we're at the lakeground in Weston-Super-Mare with Granny. Granny suggests that we take a ride on a boat to see if we can spot any ducklings. So, Mummy and Granny and Bean get on a boat and head out on to the lake. There's another boat out on the lake, and to our great surprise it is our dear friends.....

How many people are out on the lake now? We can count them, or we can multiply them. Which is quicker? Bean knows the beginning of the three times table, so she was able to answer this easily, but she had good fun calculating the higher numbers as our story became more complicated.

Bean recorded her findings in a simple grid (as photographed above), which became a reference for her to quickly answer questions as our story evolved.

Have you tried origami? Are you able to recommend another simple origami creation to make? Have you found a fun and practical way to teach your child multiplication?

With love, Rowan

This blog post contains affiliate links. If you do click through, Bean and I will receive a small amount of commission which will contribute to new books and resources for her home education. You can, however, find all of these resources elsewhere, including other online retailers, second hand selling pages and your local library.

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