“In crafting there are no mistakes, just unique creations.”
This is yet another post in my DIY or how-to-turn-a-carrot-into-a-clarinet series (See CREATIVE LOW-COST TEACHING/LEARNING AIDS to learn how to make low-cost flip cards, small books, vocabulary organizers, puppets and game fields out of a sheet of paper).
Today we will try to make a flexagon.
What is a flexagon?
Flexagons are mathematical puzzles that are folded paper figures. There are many types of flexagons with a different number of faces. As you flex the flexagon, you should find all the possible combinations/faces. Your learners might enjoy the story of the creation of the first flexagon (read more about flexagons here).
Today we’ll try to make a square flexagon with 6 faces (or sides of the paper) in total. This flexagon may become another efficient low-cost DIY learning tool in your students’ pocket. It is
super easy to make (no glue, no tape, no complicated patterns or folds)
low-cost (you’ll just need an A4 sheet of paper per student), and
learning rich (i.e. apart from “creative fun”, it provides for extensive recycling of language).
Materials required: an A4 sheet of paper, a pair of scissors, crayons (you can keep it black and white – this will significantly reduce its visual appeal but will help save time and keep your learners’ hands clean – learning might be a dirty business at times)
How to make:
1. Hand out a sheet of paper (either an A4 format or a square sheet of paper, either will do) to each student and ask them to fold it in half 4 times to make 16 squares (a 4 by 4 grid). Get them to crease all the fold lines back and forth before folding the model. This will significantly improve its flexibility.
2. Fold the grid in half and cut out the two middle squares.
3. Now you have 12 squares on one side, and 12 on the other. You may colour the squares, or put letters, words, numbers, or leave them blank to add words later. If you want particular words, phrases, images to be featured on one particular side together, follow the pattern below.
Once folded, you’ll have sides A, B, C, D, E and F.
Now fold the grid, fold the top first, and then fold the other sides going clockwise. In the end, one top square (the yellow square in the picture below) will need to be changed. Pull the down square up and place it on top.
Now your flexagon is ready. Keep folding and opening it till you find all the faces.
How can we use it for ELT?
1. Vocabulary review
Have your students put down phrases/words.
Squares A – 4 names of animals
Squares B – 4 names of birds
Squares C – 4 names of ______
These can be irregular verbs, phrasal verbs, idioms, etc. Ask your students to flex the flexagon and make sentences that are true about them using the words in the squares.
(Check this post VOCABULARY REVIEW- FORTUNE TELLERS by Pete from ELT-Planning for more ideas)
2. Vocabulary organizer
Have your students pick 6 words and put the information about each word (e.g. translation, transcription, use in a sentence, synonyms, etc.) in the squares of the flexagon – one word per face. Their task is to flex the flexagon to fill in all the squares.
(Looking for more ideas? Check this post ALL IN ONE: VOCABULARY ORGANIZER/FLASH CARD MAKER)
3. Storymaking tool
Get your students to think about the stories/texts they’ve recently read (you can focus on one text or several texts) and write the key words, e.g. 4 verbs, 4 nouns, 4 images, 4 adjectives, 4 phrasal verbs and 4 adverbs, in the grid (before the fold it into the flexagon) in random order or following the pattern to make sure they’re featured on one side (see the image in section 3 above). When the flexagon is ready, the task is to flex the flexagon and tell a story using the words in the squares. They should keep telling their story until they’ve opened all the sides. (For lower level students, you may want to simplify the task a bit and get them to make up short stories – one or two sides only).
4. Pocket study tool
If you use the four square organizer (see GOING GRAPHIC: 4 SQUARES FOR BETTER SPEAKING), have your students put notes in the flexagon (a topic per side). They may use it in class, or keep it in their pockets to go through their notes whenever they have an odd bit of time. Just flex it.