L to R: Adya with her origami dinosaur, Shruthi flaunting her dino and Maths teacher, Savitha, demonstrating the folds leading to the dinosaur

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn!

Benjamin Franklin

At ILM Montessori, we believe in interdisciplinary education and one of the disciplines we firmly believe in is – FUN! To inject some fun into our schedules, two sessions per week are dedicated to extra-curricular activities. For want of a better name (and equal part nostalgia from our own school times), we casually named it SUPW. The name caught on and now, Thursday mornings are eagerly looked forward to and experienced with contagious enthusiasm. Unlike the uninteresting curricula we grew up with, the activities here are carefully curated and planned so as to stimulate the children’s creativity and resourcefulness. Art is one such source of creativity that broadly appeals to children of all ages. Often, the Science aspect of Art is either not known or cared for, but not at ILM Montessori! When Art is delivered, its Science is explained in great detail and children are encouraged to question every aspect of the Art. Be it painting, sketching or crafts, no question is deemed too much!

There are very few forms of Art that amalgamate creativity, imagination, Mathematics and Science the way Origami can. The ancient paper-folding Art of Origami originated in Japan (ori – folding, kami – paper) but has found appreciation all over the globe due to its simplicity and versatility.

Origami helps in the study of Mathematics and Science in many ways. Using origami anyone can become a scientific experimenter with no fuss.

Martin David Kruskal

It particularly fascinates children, because what starts out as an inconspicuous square sheet of paper takes the form of anything that catches their fancy – A flower, an envelope, a house, a dragon, a boat, a hat, a dinosaur…you name it! A few folds later, the children’s imagination takes the form of a being, or a thing and this brings about a tremendous sense of accomplishment for them. We discovered this the fun way when we organized an Origami session for them on Sept. 1st. They sat with newspaper squares and carefully folded them into their personal T-Rexes. It wasn’t easy but that didn’t deter them! Persist, they did! An hour and a half later, we were deluged in dinosaurs, aggressively trying to gouge our eyes out!

Clockwise from top: Mohammad (giving his T-Rex a ride), Ayansh, Rayyan and Prabhav.

Not only was the lesson imbibed by the kids, but they also took it further than we could…..even decorating their paper sculptures with embellishments. Much to our delight, we discovered that they were obsessed with the Art over the following days and “Dinosaur wars” were rampant on the premises! The paper dinos got more and more colourful and, of course, more ‘ferocious’, many acquiring weapons of ‘tremendous powers’ (imagination + paper, glued together to grant them superpowers).

Clockwise from the top: Zuha, Izaan, Vaibbhav and Ananth, with their dinosaurs

Children understood the importance of precision in paper-folding, the concept of bisection of angles and, the formation of right angles and squares. Through experimentation, they arrived at conclusions about the plasticity of paper, the material properties of newspaper and the importance of the centre of gravity. The challenge was not only to “make” an origami sculpture but also to balance it so it could stand. Soon enough, the kids came to the conclusion that the newspaper (provided by the school) was an unfit medium to achieve that goal. As discoveries were made, the children got more and more resourceful. Observing a mistake is the first step toward correcting it and the kids rose to the challenge. Soon enough, coloured A4 sheets terrorized the entire Upper Elementary floor, as they were accompanied by the intimidating roars of the creators! There were armies being created, wars being fought (much to the chagrin of the teachers, fruitlessly trying to revise the portions for the upcoming assessments!) and “casualties” piling up!

Clockwise from top: Aaniyah, Hamna, Adyant and Dhruve, with their dinosaurs. Adyant seems to have figured the centre of gravity out, his dinosaur stands tall!

All in all, we achieved our goal of sparking their interest in something we considered interesting and encouraging them into taking it further than where we left them!