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Origami in a Makerspace at Robert Smalls Leadership Academy

Rhonda Doherty, Media Specialist at Robert Smalls Leadership Academy, was looking for a fun and creative way to enhance story time for her more than 200 students. Thanks to a grant from the Foundation along with support from the Friends of Callawassie Island, Doherty’s students got the opportunity to explore the ancient art of origami.

The grant provided students with hands on origami activities that enhanced the weekly story time for 3rd through 5th grade Media Center Makerspace students. Students were able to practice hand-eye coordination, sequencing skills, attention skills, temporal spatial skills, problem-solving abilities and synergizing.

These items helped students to work through problems to help improve their problem solving skills, along with listening skills and sequencing because the students had to listen closely and follow along in a certain sequence for their origami to turn out correctly. Patience was also a vital skill developed through this activity. In addition, origami is a great stress-reliever; and the kids loved it! 

These skills helped to solidify what students were reading by creating concrete objects (origami) to go along with the stories they were reading.

What is a Makerspace?

In the first two decades of the 21st century, makerspaces began to become established in many schools, museums and libraries across North America, as spaces in which participants could work on “maker” projects. Schools and libraries across the country are now realizing the value of bringing the idea of “making” into their communities for their students to develop valuable critical thinking skills. These spaces help students examine all facts and aspects of a problem, without relying on a teacher for instruction and guidance. Plus, they give students the freedom to be creative, think outside of the box, and develop their ideas into reality.

The Benefits of Origami

Origami is an example of schematic learning through sequencing and repeatable actions. To be successful, the student must watch closely and listen carefully to specific instructions and then carry these instructions with neatness and accuracy.  Research has shown that paper-folding, particularly in the elementary school years, is a unique and valuable addition to the curriculum. Origami is not only fun, but also an innovative method for developing vital skills.

Ms. Doherty’s purpose of creating a makerspace at RSLA was to allow her students the imaginative output in a safe environment, risk accepting, space that nurtures creativity and willingness to fail and try again.

The students were so thankful for this projects that they wrote many beautiful, heartfelt “thank you” letters to the Foundation. Including these sentiments by one student:

“I made a cool origami butterfly with the supplies you gave my teacher, Ms. Doherty. Thank you for being so kind.” – Antonia

Reading the appreciation expressed by the students is affirmation of the positive impact the Innovative Teacher Grants are having on the students across Beaufort County. Thanks to the generosity and support of local organizations like the Friends of Callawassie Island, these projects can continue to impact students for years to come!


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