I found a great site run by a college professor/sculptor. His name is George Hart. From what I can tell he has worked to open a museum in New York called the Museum of Mathematics (MoMath). If I ever get to New York, I want to visit there.
On his site, he had a page dedicated to classroom projects. It had some great student friendly (and some not too friendly, based on some of my students lack of success) building projects.
I took the templates that he provided and had some fun. Because they cost virtually nothing, they are great for giving away. I made a whole Christmas tree of paper ornaments for my mother-in-law's room at the nursing home. Everyone who wanted one, got to take one.
Step 1: Templates and Paper
I had to scale down the size of the templates. I just did not have room for all the models--even when I started getting my taller students to climb up on a desk and hang them from the ceiling for me. Some of the models had to get sent over to my son's old teachers in the elementary school.
When I finally got the template down to somewhere between a tennis ball and a baseball, things really went well. Big enough to work but small enough to be manageable.
I have included a pdf version for you to print. You will get the size I made. I am also including a Word document. You can resize the template to fit your needs. You can also check out GeorgeHart.com and see the other things he has posted. There are some great ideas for playing cards. (Be careful if you choose to use baseball cards. There are some baseball players that will be very upset. They thought it was terrible that I cut into an actual baseball card.)
I printed these on a lot of different papers. I definitely recommend cardstock or something similar. You need it to be easy to cut but at the same time, sturdy enough to take a little abuse. People always seem to want to handle these.
On a whim, I put some glossy photo paper in my printer. That is definitely my favorite! You can cut a few sheets of patterned scrapbooking paper to fit in your printer.
Other than paper and a printer, all you need is a comfortable pair of scissors and some time.
Step 2: Printing and Cutting
I print on the photo paper intentionally on the back side. I like the lines to not show at all and this allows me to be a but less careful in my cutting. Someday, I will draw this so I can use my Camino but I haven't done it yet. (I will add to this posting when I do.)
Cut out at least 20 triangles. (I rarely make only one of these, so if I cut extra, it is not a problem.) You need to cut the 3 slits on each one. This is a good thing to do when you are sitting around watching tv. I keep a cereal bowl next to me to hold all the pieces. If you are cutting in the car or in the doctor's waiting room, I recommend an envelope so you don't loose all your pieces.
Step 3: Assembling
You should take the time to study the pictures for a moment. Notice that there are pentagonal (5 sided) spaces between the pieces. This is the key to proper assembly.
Slide 2 pieces together--with the glossy side of the photo paper facing you. If you are using cardstock, just make sure that the slits are facing the same direction. They will not fit together correctly if you flip one piece over.
Connect a 3rd piece and then a 4th. The 5th piece will connect to the 4th and the 1st piece. Then you turn it a bit and you already have 2 connected pieces for the next cluster of 5.
Keep turning the snowball and adding pieces--always keeping an eye on those pentagonal spaces. You do not want any spaces with 4 or 6 sides. The ball will start to close up after a while--this is supposed to happen.
The last few pieces can be challenging if you have really big hands. Be patient and it is ok if you bend the paper a bit--just be gentle so it doesn't tear.
You can resize the template and try again with a bigger set of pieces. Young children (as young as the 3rd grade) have been successful with these. I did give the 3rd grader a little larger pieces for her first one. It was easier for her to see what she was doing and I could help her hold the project.
Step 4: Hanging It on the Tree
The first year that I made these, my boys were still very young. My youngest was too short to hang anything very high up in the Christmas tree so we had a lot of ornaments on the lower branches.
Being a clever creative child, he figured out how to hang these high up in the tree. I watched this process from across the room and it made my husband and I laugh. It has been the approved method of hanging them ever since.
Step 1: Stand about 3 feet from the tree
Step 2: Toss the ornament up and into the tree
Step 3: If it falls out of the tree, pick it up and repeat
Step 4: If it stays in the tree, no one is allowed to move it
You can put a string through the gaps in the pieces and tie it into a loop. Hang anywhere in the house.
You can simply place the ball on a shelf or desk. They look great all year round.
EmCat made it!