May the Folds Be With You

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

May the Folds Be With You

November 21, 2013

Origami is the art of folding paper into the shape of animals, flowers, boxes and other things. Turns out you can make an origami Yoda, and as the Tegtmeier family learned, you can make it as big as you need it. Their son William decided to make a lifesize origami Yoda as his Halloween costume. He had to measure the little Yoda, then figure out how many times taller it had to be to fit his whole body. Then he had to tape together a paper square that many times bigger. Then he had to pre-crease the square (that alone took 2 1/2 hours), and finally make all the folds in the right order. This video shows how he did it, so check it out!

And BTW, if you want to send us an idea for a math problem and win a Starry Stay-Up-Late kit like William did, check out our Moon and Stars sweepstakes here!

Wee ones: How many sides does a square have?

Little kids: If it took 5 folds to make each of Yoda’s pointy ears, how many folds do his ears have together? Bonus: If it took William 1 hour to tape together all the paper, 2 1/2 hours to pre-crease it, and 2 more hours to fold it into Yoda, how long did the project take?

Big kids: If the mini-Yoda is 2 1/2 inches tall and the big Yoda needs to be 45 inches tall, how many times taller is the big Yoda? (Hint: How tall are 2 mini-Yodas together?)  Bonus: If the giant square was 9 feet by 9 feet, how many times as big as the 6-inch square area is that?

The sky’s the limit: If your first fold is to take the top right corner of an 8-foot square and bring it exactly to the center, then you take the whole top edge and fold that down to the center also, what’s the square-inch area of that trapezoid shape that you fold down?




Wee ones: 4 sides.

Little kids: 10 folds.  Bonus: 5 1/2 hours.

Big kids: 18 times as tall (17 times taller). A pair of Yodas is 5 inches tall, so it’s as tall as 9 of those pairs.  Bonus: 324 times as big, since you can fit 18 squares across and 18 down…that way you avoid multiplying 108 x 108 and dividing by 36!

The sky’s the limit: 1,440 square inches. Once you fold down the corner, it sets off a triangle made of 4 little imaginary triangles, and an empty space the same size. When you fold the top edge down, that top 1/4 of the page is now missing 3 of the 8 little triangles in that strip, so the trapezoid is 5/8 of the row, or 5/32 of the whole square paper. The whole square is 8 x 8 or 64 square feet total, and 1/32 of that is 2 square feet…so the trapezoid is 10 square feet. A square foot is 12 x 12 or 144 inches, so the trapezoid is 1,440 square inches.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking while still in diapers, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

More posts from this author