This is a pretty relaxed activity, but it does have value. It involves basic geometry, problem-solving, following directions, and collaboration. All good things.
I have origami paper on hand, but for this exercise, I actually give students 8.5" x 11" to use. The first problem of the day will be how to create the largest possible square from the rectangular paper. It's a good warm-up to the activity.
Once my students have completed the largest square activity done that, I give them copies of the Samurai Hat instructions (click here to access the instructions from the Origami-fun.com website). When a group has successfully finished their Samurai Hat, I give them the Origami Star instructions and a real piece of origami paper (now that they've earned it -- click here to access the instructions).
As students finish their work and write their names on their designs, I collect them. Next time students come to class, they will see their finished products on the walls of the classroom, making it feel a little more like a shared space where their work is valued.
Time permitting, at the end of this activity, I show videos of origami foldings like this one.
This activity gives us a chance to discuss the importance of documenting solutions and the different advantages/disadvantages of different types of documentation (narrative, video, etc.).
This is another fun, team-building exercise, but it's also very logical and geometric. I have eight Rush Hour boards in my classroom. It's a good game to have around.
First I demonstrate how the game is played. Then I put one of the easy puzzle configurations on the document camera. I explain to students, who are still in groups of 3-4, that they will have to find a solution and document it so that someone else could replicate it. And they're off.
As groups find the solution and document their solution, I give them feedback to make sure that they're documentation is clear and not ambiguous. When they have produced an acceptable product, I give them the OK to move on to the next level of problem. Each time, a group finishes a new level, they call me over so I can see them repeat the solution. Half the time, they can't remember what they did. So, of course I say "Wouldn't it be nice if we had some documentation?"
As we get up into the more advanced puzzles, the solutions are much more convoluted and involve a lot of trial and error (see Video). It would be too much, I think, to ask students to notate the entire solutions. But, I think that group's benefit from thinking about the importance of documenting a solution.