Introduction: Magic Paper Pocket Study Tool

Picture of Magic Paper Pocket Study Tool

I teach my students how to make a 4-sided magic piece of paper to use as a "pocket study tool" to help them prepare for tests. Brain research (and experience) teaches that the mind is much more able to learn, process, store, and recall information which is (1) chunked into digestible bits, (2) rehearsed at frequent, short intervals, and (3) entertaining to the "inner kindergartener." This foldable study guide does all that! Carried in the pocket, this tool helps students make the most of those random bits of otherwise-wasted time during the day (standing in the lunch line, riding the bus, eating breakfast, brushing teeth...). Just whip out the Pocket Study Tool 5 - 10 times a day, and you are done studying before you even get home! Now you can go have fun!

This is my first instructable - hope I can do it right! (-:

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

All you need to make a magic pocket study guide is a sheet of paper, a pair of scissors, a writing utensil, and a piece of tape. I encourage students to use colored paper. You can remember better if it's in color!

Step 2: Folding Step 1

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Fold the paper in half "like a hamburger" as we say in education!

Step 3: Folding Step 2

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Now you fold it again, parallel to the first fold, but we call it "like a hot dog" this time.

Step 4: Folding Next Step

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now open it up and fold in thirds "like a burrito."

Step 5: Now Cut!

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You have 12 squares now. Cut out the center 2, like a door.

Step 6: Now Fold It Up.

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Orient your paper so the door is hinged on the left. Fold the door over all the way to the left.

Step 7: Wrap the Door Around.

Picture of Wrap the Door Around.

Now fold what's left of the door UNDER the frame.

Step 8: Fold the Frame.

Picture of Fold the Frame.

Now take the right-hand side of the frame and fold it towards the left.

Step 9: Flip Frame Once More.

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Fold the frame again, towards the left.

Step 10: Flip and Tape.

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Now turn the whole thing over and use one piece of tape across the center seam.

Step 11: Ready to Use!

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Now see if you can find the four sides to this sheet of paper! Then categorize what you will need to remember into 4 groups, and devote one page to each group. Fold the whole thing down to the size of one square, stick it in your pocket, and you are ready to go!

Step 12: Detail of the Flip.

Picture of Detail of the Flip.

This picture shows a little better the way to reveal the hidden surfaces. You fold the thing like a mountain, then sort of separate the crack and pull the two halves apart. This reveals one hidden side. You can do the exact same thing to reveal the other hidden side. Cool, huh? Now fold the whole thing up down to the size of one square, and stick it in your pocket. Now use it! (My video showed this really well, but alas it will not load... I'll try again tomorrow).

As a disclaimer, I should say that I learned how to make flexagons somewhere. I don't remember where. I think I am the first one to make a pocket study tool out of it, but I did not invent the flexagon. If you recognize this mathematical piece of magic and know who I should credit, please let me know!


wchang2 (author)2013-02-14

These are really amazing!!! Thank you so much for sharing and I can't wait to use it to study for Biology.

NicOmbra (author)2009-12-23

 I just made two of these! They're awesome! I'm actually in a hotel right now, so I made them with note papers (tiny) and tore instead of cut. Still awesome!

rickharris (author)2008-03-20

In 1939 a Princeton graduate student, Arthur Stone, played around with a strip of paper trimmed from his notebook and created the first flexagon. A flexagon is a polygon, usually made from paper, that can be folded in certain ways to produce a series of faces. But I guess he won't mind this innovative use of his idea. :-)

Kiteman (author)rickharris2008-03-20

That was a hexaflexagon. This is a tetraflexagon.

In fact, it is a tetratetraflexagon, being a tetraflexagon with four faces.

(A ditetraflexagon is a plain piece of square paper.)

thanks NERD!

It took you ten months to think of that??

ha! no! we don't need nerds!!! and it only took me 1 second nerd! *wedgies nerd*

hey if there weren't any nerds the microchip wouldn't have been invented and you wouldn't even be on Instructables or be able to type and by the way this sentence "ha! no! we don't need nerds!!! and it only took me 1 second nerd! " sounds quite babyish! so ha! you got bombed I thought this was supposed to be a friendly place anyway!

it was my ANNOYING older brother |:|


Foaly7 (author)pikathebudgie12342009-03-08

Coming from you, who hasn't posted any instructables, where as he has posted... 89.

PKM (author)Kiteman2008-03-20

Is there a limit to the order (or valency, or ordinality or whatever) of flexagons you can make? Could you make a dodecaflexagon with twelve faces? An icosaflexagon with twenty? I would imagine, paper not being perfectly 2-dimensional, after a certain number the thickness of the paper would be restrictive.

Kiteman (author)PKM2008-03-20

I don't know. I've heard of dodecas, but never seen one.

hellogeek (author)Kiteman2009-01-11

I like the hexaflexagon better its smaller and I like to use it as a toy

nerdnurture (author)Kiteman2008-03-20

We do hexaflexagons too! That one is like a hexagon that flips inside out, right? Thanks for the tips!

nerdnurture (author)nerdnurture2008-03-21

I posted my trihexaflexagon study tool today: so check it out and tell me what you think! By the way, I found a SWEET vid for a dodecaflexagon at

(this is nerd heaven right here.)

mo5 (author)2009-09-02

wow this thing is a life saver... great instructable and actualy useful in life

nerdnurture (author)2009-06-13

If you have not done it correctly, the tape will utterly prevent you from being able to flex the shape. But if you've just made some lazy folds, the tape will be mostly stuck to the right places, and a little stuck to the layers beneath. Just pull it apart where you know it needs to be pulled apart, and you should be fine. If all else fails, start over. (-:

llamadudeguy (author)2009-06-13

dude, i keep trying to flip it but the piece of tape is in the way. can u help?

Superninjacamper941 (author)2008-10-13

That is SO COOL I wish I knew about this earlier. You sound like an awesome teacher I wish at least one of my teacher knew about instructables at least. THANK YOU YOU ARE AWESOM :)

jessyratfink (author)2008-10-07

This is a really cute idea! I don't know that it'll work with biomechanics though. I'm actually studying that right now and ending up searching for "study" on instructables during a break. I think I'd need to make a few of these for each chapter. :P

robocrazy155 (author)2008-07-24

like the idea and I think it would be great for notes but I can't figure out how the fliping works, if you added a video I think it would be clearer

nerdnurture (author)robocrazy1552008-07-24

yes, sorry about the missing vid. If you look at the picture comments in the second to last step, you should see how you are going to open it up at the crack, just like I am starting to do in the last photo. There's no vid because I actually use this instructable with my students, and I feel they need to be able to read and follow the instructions. Thanks for the feedback though!

SeaLion (author)2008-07-24

I love this idea...sadly my exams finished a while back...or I'll give it a try and recommend it to all my friends! But al(all)l <-- all in all :P, a very good instructable!

nerdnurture (author)SeaLion2008-07-24

Thank you, I'm glad you like it!

iamthemargerineman (author)2008-05-31


Hey I'm glad you enjoy it! I thought it was awesome too. That was until I started looking to see if anyone else had done an instructable like it. Seems I am just small-time creative. You should see the one with the tiny mirror made out of a CD mounted to the top of a coffee can on top of an old speaker. It wiggles to the beat of the music. I wonder how to combine the fun geometry of my design with one that responds to sound... Your go. (-:

nerdnurture (author)nerdnurture2008-05-31

oops! HAAHAA I thought your comment was about my laser toy - how would you make a flexagon that responded to music?? SHEESH - sorry, I need to pay better attention apparently. (-;

no no. i'm sure if i made a laser toy i would have the same response, :}, but i'm talking about the paper thing. i didn't reallu understand how it worked at first... but now i dooo! ad it is the coolest. i'm going to make one on axons and the differnt lobes of the brains. thanks nerdnurture! i'll get to the laser toy soon!

iamthemargerineman (author)2008-05-30

this is very cool. but if you could upload the video that would make it extra extra cool. becuase i get the flip and turn... but i'm not sure how it would help me study. but i'd really really like to know. see i'm on my way to becoming a nerd. i was for a while this year... but next year, i'm going to be a full throttle nerd. or if it's on youtube or something... if you could just post the link. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

This is a good study tool when you can divide what you are learning into 4 separate categories. You basically just write what you want to remember on each of the 4 surfaces, and then keep it in your pocket. Whip it out during those odd moments of otherwise wasted time and use it to review. It works for two basic reasons - one, you always have it on you, so you can use it all day, thus reducing the amount of time you have to spend studying at home, and two, because it is so gosh-darned entertaining to your inner kindergartener. You will actually WANT to use this study tool. And the fact that it was 3-D and manipulable and whatever means the material will be easier to recall when you are taking the test. Making each face a different color multiplies this effect. Unfortunately, I don't have a video on how to be a nerd. You'll have to enroll in my class for that lesson. I teach all of my students to be nerds. (I am, after all, the nurturer of nerds! LOL!) Good luck to you in your quest to find and nurture your inner nerd. (o:

haha. thanks. i dunno if you know about this little device, but in japan, and in japanese bookstores, they sell these study packs that have a green pen, red pen, red filter, green filter. so you highlight some stuff in red and some in green. thenn, come study time you use the green filter on the red stuff and fill in the blanks. for key words and definitions. that type of thing. anyways. so the four things are just separate. not like this is hidden, that is not what is missing, fill in the blanks, test yourself type of thing?

That's fantastic! I think I can rig something like that. We have some old colored overhead sheets somewhere... Thanks!

anytime. }:) (
casey321b (author)2008-05-26

my school has us make stuff like these. they call them lap books and you turn them in every confrence. (PTC). there made of a file folder with stuff glued in.

Browncoat (author)2008-05-19

Good idea! For some students, this will combine playing with studying. :)

Chunk (author)2008-03-22

I made these templates so if you want to print out your flexagon you can see which square corresponds to where when its all folded up... or something like that. I thought I might make a miniture photo one with 4 photos on it.

nerdnurture (author)Chunk2008-03-22

I have a template too, I will add it later, but it doesn't look anything like this. I don't really understand how yours works. It should be made up of 12 equally sized squares. How do you fold yours?

Chunk (author)nerdnurture2008-03-24

There is 2 templates there, one for each side. Its not a template for the actual folding its just so that you can see where each square will end up after it is folded. This is only one way of orientating it though as there are actually 6 different combinations depending on which side you look at when its folded each way. I only made it 'cause I was bored, lol.

nerdnurture (author)Chunk2008-03-24

I posted my template too - did you see it? Let me know if you think it works. I just can't figure out how yours works with so many different sized sections in the middle.

Chunk (author)nerdnurture2008-03-26

They are not different sized squares, they make a rectangle in the middle of each section when they are folded up. I guess its not very clear, I made it for my own use really but just thought i'd stick it on here. I just had a look at your template, I think some of the numbering might be wrong, how have you got numbers 1-6 on there? Maybe I just don't get your template, lol.

nerdnurture (author)Chunk2008-03-26

Oh, the numbers are for the students' planning. #1 is the top left corner, #2 is top left, #3 and #4 are in the middle, etc. So each face is made up of 6 squares. They can crop their notes and know which square to put each piece in. Sorry, I do a lot better job explaining things in person. (-:

JSeb (author)2008-03-20

Well, look what I found here.

Hmm... I guess I'm stupid, because I still can't figure it out...

nerdnurture (author)JSeb2008-03-20

dang. Does that mean I don't get the T-shirt? (-; What are you stuck on? Did you see you need to flip the whole thing over before you use the tape?

JSeb (author)nerdnurture2008-03-21

Got it, at last! 8-) Very nice! I like that! Thanks for the idea!

nerdnurture (author)JSeb2008-03-21

Great! I'm glad you can use it - how's about a vote?? (-;

JSeb (author)2008-03-20

I try, but I don't get it :(

Eglantine (author)2008-03-20

this is sooo cool Mrs. Norton!

nerdnurture (author)Eglantine2008-03-20

but you forgot to vote!!! (-:

Kiteman (author)2008-03-20


Disappears into distance, running off with the idea.

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