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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Origami Butterflies

Origami Butterfly Art Lesson with Prayer

I started this lesson talking about the meaning behind it more so than the steps we would go through to get there.  I introduced my students to the Native American symbolism of a butterfly.  According to Native American legend, if you capture a butterfly and whisper a wish to it.  Upon its release, it will fly your wish up to the heavens.  As a teacher at a Catholic school, I then steered this in the direction of prayer instead of wishes.  Though, this lesson could easily be adapted for a public school setting and use hopes, dreams and aspirations instead of prayers.  I explained how we would start by creating watercolor paintings to be used as our origami paper.  We would then write down our prayers, special intentions or anything weighing on our hearts and minds onto the dry painting before transforming them into origami butterflies as a class for an "all school" art display (I say "all school" because I only teach 4th-8th grade students, and  the origami steps might be too tricky for the younger kids).

With my 4th and 5th graders, we started our paintings by learning a little bit about Wassily Kandinsky and non-representational art.  They each made non-representational watercolor paintings on typing paper that I had precut into squares for the origami.  They started by tracing random objects (mostly rolls of tape, cups and various small storage containers) with a pencil and then painted this with watercolors.  I encouraged them to get down large areas of color inside the drawn shapes first and then to add smaller lines and details on top of this.  My older kids were just asked to make a non-representational painting using layering of shapes and lines with the watercolors.  We made the paintings soley for a pop of color and interest to the butterflies, but you could also teach a lesson about using painting as a form of therapy and tie it into the prayers and/or wishes and hopes.
My example painting
During our next class together, I started off by reminding them of our intentions with the paintings and gave them all markers-they could choose any color they wanted to write with.  We wrote directly on our paintings and those who were absent, wrote on a colored sheet of paper that I had also cut to the proper size.  I asked them to write on their painting either a prayer, special intentions, people or things that they wanted to pray for or anything weighing on their hearts and minds.
This prayer is special to our students and parish, as it was written by Fr. Bob, our priest who passed away this year

In order for us to make origami together, I opted for using a YouTube video tutorial, pausing between each step, demonstrating that step myself and then going around to offer assistance to any student who needed it.  Luckily, each class had a few origami gurus who would also help out their struggling classmates.

Origami Butterfly Art Lesson with Prayer
Finished Example
With the help from a few 8th graders, I had the butterflies strung up and ready for display.  I absolutely love walking down this hallway!  I wish I could have hung them lower so that you could literally walk through them, but as a teacher in a K-8 building, I know that wouldn't work so well--it's better in theory.  The hundreds of butterflies on the walls and those flying above our heads are still enough for me!
Origami Butterfly Art Lesson with Prayer

Origami Butterfly Art Lesson with Prayer

Origami Butterfly Art Lesson with Prayer
I strung/taped these ones to rulers and wedged them in the corners of our drop ceiling for easy display purposes