Since working as a librarian, I have found that children love origami. I think they love being able to create something with just paper. At my present library, we do not have a lot of money to use towards STEM related projects, so I try blend STEM inspired ideas into the crafts and projects that I do currently at the library.

Currently, I run a story time for children in grades Kindergarten through Third grade called Eager Readers. My attendance ranges from low to medium. Some children can read and some cannot; however, I find using STEM related projects helps increase their problem solving skills and increase their ability think more independently. I also run a monthly D.I.Y. Craft event for children ages 8-12 which focuses on crafts that children can create on their own using everyday materials.

This month our theme is “Paper Engineering

What is Paper Engineering?

Sample Popup Card created by Lanora Melillo

Sample Popup Card created by Lanora Melillo

This term, “Paper Engineering” refers to two different things.

According to the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point:

Paper Engineering is the:

-Application of math, chemistry, physics, and engineering to the pulp and paper industry

-Design and analysis of equipment and processes used in the manufacture of paper

According to Ann Montanaro’s A concise History of Pop-up and Movable Books:

Paper Engineering can also refer to the pulling, moving, and folding with paper.

To focus on the second part, this month, my Eager Readers group created Popup Cards and my D.I.Y. Crafts will be creating Hexaflexagon Scrapbooks.

Popup Cards are a super easy and budget friendly craft that you can do with just about any age group.  The only real prep work required is that the children need to map up their ideas beforehand and figure out how it will work and why it will work.

For a simple Pop Up Card, I followed the directions from

TinkerLab describes their site as: “TinkerLab describes both the physical space of the art studio/science lab where a family or class builds, paints, experiments, and tinkers. It’s also the experimental state of mind that goes into the things happen in this space.”

Prior to creating the Popup Cards, I showed the children various pop up books examples:

  • White noise : a pop-up book for children of all ages by Daniel A. Carter
  • The giraffe who cock-a-doodle-doo’d : a pop-up book  by Keith Faulkner
  • Journey to the moon by Lucio and Meera Santoro
  • Snow White : a three-dimensional fairy-tale theater by  Jane Ray

For more advance projects for adults and teens (or very experienced children), I recommend  using Extreme Cards and Papercrafting blog.

Their projects are not only amazing, but the blog also offers tutorials as well.

In terms of origami, I know that origami is not new and libraries have been creating origami projects with children for many years. I am not the best at origami because it involves perfectionism and many of my crafts are not perfect- they are creative. This year, I began doing movable origami which is often referred to as paper transformers.

Earlier this year, we created movable Ninja Stars and now later this month we are creating Hexaflexagon Scrapbooks.

Sample Ninja Star (paper transformer) created by Lanora Melillo

Sample Ninja Star (paper transformer) created by Lanora Melillo

To see directions on how to create a movable Ninja Star, you can visit the  which offers step by step directions and pictures.

You can view the directions for creating a movable Ninja Star.

Hexaflexagons and other types of origami can be found at Flexagon which offers tutorials and templates.

I am looking forward to creating the Hexaflexagons, as they involve quite a bit of math and folding.

I will post my feedback and sample after we create them!


TinkerLabs –

Simple DIY Popup Cards for Creative Kids –

Extreme Cards Blog  –

Paper Engineering: Fold, Pull, Pup & Turn Gallery brochure –

University of Wisconsin Stevens Point: Paper Sciencea and Engineering –

Ann Montanaro’s A concise History of Pop-up and Movable Books –