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Children Workshops

Origami Lessons with Dr. E.J. bahng

Curricula are developed and lessons are created based on elements of math (triangles, squares, rectangles), literacy (stories and on-screen text), geography (maps and globes), culture (graphics, discussions) and art (making the origami piece).

June 2024 – Juneteenth 

After the best laid plans, the Juneteenth session scheduled for June 18th was canceled because of unforeseen conditions that closed the Rec Center that day and the rest of the week. But the other Althea Team members (Ms. Linda, Ms. Kajal, and Dr. E.J.) encouraged Ms. Pat by saying ‘history has no deadline.’  So, a week later, on June 25th, the Juneteenth session was offered to our 2023/4 kindergarten and 1st graders.


First of all, they learned more about Dr. E.J. and her home country. She was vacationing there and zoomed in from S. Korea. We all learned they were having a celebration of their own on that very day—a celebration of S. Korean independence. She opened her curtains and showed that it was 6am in the morning on Wednesday! They are 13 hours ahead of us. We talked about distance and time.


The students went on to learn the facts of Juneteenth through pictures, video clips, singing and dancing to a song, and taking turns reading lines from a children’s book. They ended by coloring a page about Juneteenth. They departed with a bag of snacks, a book at their reading level, and a Juneteenth souvenir. 

April 2024 – Origami Spring Tulip
Dr E.J showing the flower folding and the kids watching her
Pat and Linda working with the kids

The kindergarten and 1st graders gathered for the fourth time since October 2023 and were very excited to see Dr. E.J.’s smiling face on Zoom. This session is a repeat of one for older children but was redesigned for this young audience. This fourth installment of the redesign focuses on literary and engages this age group in a Song, April Showers Bring May Flowers, a Book, I Am Spring, and Art, an origami Tulip (SoBA). The session began in the ‘living room’ of the center. There the children had conversation with Dr. E.J. on full screen with the book and song lyrics shared on her screen and on another widescreen monitor. Dr. E.J., Ms. Pat, and Ms. Linda led the read-a-long but also allowed each child to read one page. They then moved into the ‘dining’ room where Dr. E.J. instructed them in the art of making the origami tulip.

flowers clip art
February 2024 – George Washington Carver

In honor of Black History Month, the Althea Center focused on George Washington Carver (GWC) in 3 separate sessions for these grades: kindergarten and 1st; 2nd-4th; and 5th-8th graders.


The kindergarten and 1st graders came in as excited as ever and their session consisted of SoBA:  a Song, Peanut Butter and Jelly; a Book, I Am George Washington Carver; and Art, their own personal GWC figure.

The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders engaged with a PowerPoint outlining key points in the life of GWC and included real-life pictures of this inventor. This session culminated with the students ‘electrifying’ sweet potatoes with enough current to turn on a small light. 

The last group, the 5th-8th graders, were engaged in a larger 3D printer program, discussed separately in detail below. For the session that honored Black History month those students designed a GWC bobble head for the 3-D printer.

January-May 2024 – 3D Printing and Black Inventors

After the summer program and during the end of year holiday sessions, Ms. Linda led the design of the 3D Printing Program. These are 8-week pilots that are divided into Part 1 and Part 2, 4-week series. Each of the two 8-week pilots involve 2 to 3 boys or girls because of the individual attention needed for these basic skills. The first 8-week pilot recruited 5th -8th graders whereas the second pilot recruited 4th-7th graders. Students were introduced to the engineering aspects involved in 3D printing, the Engineering Design Process (EDP), invention based on need and culture, Black male and female inventors, and Tinkercad, computer software for programming the 3-D printer. A 3-D Printing Manual was developed from various resources to the guide students.  After completion of these two 8-week pilots, there are plans brings boys and girls together for more advanced studies in 3D printing throughout the summer. 

April 2023 - Origami Spring Baskets

Big baskets, little baskets, green baskets, yellow baskets…. The preparation for the origami spring basket began and was first slated to take place in March. During that time, Dr. E.J. and Ms. Pat made all kinds of sample baskets before postponing the activity until April. The day finally came and Dr. E.J.’s anticipated arrival via Zoom was happening. There she was with her jazz and blues background! Ms. Pat and Ms. Linda were all set to engage the excited children and make all the connections. The first was the connection between April and jazz music. The kids learned that April is jazz appreciation month. They also learned about the origin of jazz in African American communities and the profile of one of U.S.’s most famous jazz singers, Ella Fitzgerald. But what about baskets? That is when the sing-along to the video of Ms. Ella singing, A Tisket, A Tasket, came in! The lyrics were printed out and they read and sang them perfectly. The book, I Am Spring, told all about its characteristics and they then learned about spring celebrations in the U.S., South Korea, India, and China. Dr. E.J. guided them in the making of origami spring baskets as Ms. Pat and Ms. Linda assisted in the room. The children remembered the tune and were heard singing ,A Tisket, A Tasket, as they completed their spring baskets. Their larger origami basket was tucked into their take-home snack bag along with a surprise smaller origami basket from Ms. Pat’s collection. It was great fun!

February 2023 - Origami Hearts

This February session is a repeat from 2022, with added features. The theme remained, The Celebration of Valentine’s Day Around the World with the subtitle, Give Love. Students read the PowerPoint slides describing how the day was celebrated in the USA, Brazil, Israel, Lebanon, Portugal, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Bangladesh. These countries were pointed out on maps and the lighted globe and their relative distances from the USA and each other were discussed. Dr. E.J., who had joined the session via Zoom, had special insights into the customs of her home country, South Korea. One added feature was the reading of the book, A Book of Love, which demonstrated different ways of showing love. Another added feature was the section, ‘For the Love of Shapes’, designed by Ms. Kajal. The children learned what makes a square different from a rectangle or triangle and the trapezoid shape was introduced. Once the folding of the origami heart began under the guidance of Dr. E.J., the new trapezoid shape appeared. The finished hearts had pockets and the kids were given small valentine exchange cards to slip inside. It was a fun session, and the children were also pleased with their Valentine take-home snack bags.

january 2023 - Origami Fish & Boat

As usual, Dr. E.J.’s visit via Zoom is met with much excitement from the kids. She again teaches them how to sign her name, E.J., in American Sign Language. Her upbeat enthusiasm sets the tone for a fun session.


But January 2023 was back to the basics in terms of origami folds and mathematical shapes. We noticed that after Summer 2022, we were targeting younger students than in our earlier origami sessions. So, with Ms. Kajal’s assistance, we began talking about folds that create mathematical shapes before discussing the final origami products. However, we continued to allow the origami products to drive the themes of the sessions. This month’s products were a simple origami angel fish in an origami boat. Therefore, the theme was the art of fishing. The session began with our literacy component in a reading and discussion of the book, Let’s Go Fishing. Then in the spirit of getting back to the basics, the children learned about the meaning of origami, the origin of the art form, and located Japan on maps and globes. Dr. E.J. also shared how origami was and is also an important part of her South Korean culture. Ms. Kajal’s animated video design was then used to demonstrate how paper folds can turn squares into triangles or rectangles. In making those shapes, they also learned the basics of valley versus mountain folds. Once those folds and creases were made, they were well on their way to creating the angel fish, which they completed with Dr. E.J.’s guidance. Ms. Pat had already folded the more complicated boat with a sail—except for the very last step. The kids really enjoyed pulling the origami ball apart, from end to end, and seeing the boat take shape. Their fish in the boats were attached to their take-home snack bags.   

december 2022 - Paper christmas trees

In December, the Althea Center at St. Monica’s continued to celebrate the holiday season and upcoming New Year with activities for the kids. Dr. E.J. arrived by Zoom fully prepared to engage the kids in making origami Christmas trees. Ms. Pat and Ms. Linda assisted the children in making the most difficult paper folds. However, the young artists are improving each time in their origami skills and were rewarded with a gift bag of Christmas snacks.

happy boys with goodies bags
paper christmas trees
november 2022 - Thanksgiving Origami Turkey
kids whatching Dr. EJ

The Althea Center at St.Monica’s invited kids to further explore Native American history month and it’s influence on the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday and it’s contributions to our lives and culture. Again Dr. E.J. Zoomed into Ms. Pat’s Center to lead the origami lesson. Students learned about this first reported friendly encounter and how the first White settlers’ lives were saved by these first inhabitants. They also learned of how Native American land and lives were later lost to violate wars against them. The kids were intrigued by Native American inventions and hair styles, such as the popular Mohawk. Connections were also made to the African American culture through intermingling and marriage. They will be asking ‘do we have any Native American relatives?’ Their take-home printout, to read with parents and guardians, is about similar feasts around the world. Again, the adult seniors also enjoyed a similar session earlier in the day.

november 2022 - Native American Heritage Month

On the week of November 7-11, the Althea Augustine Technology Learning Center was prepping bright, one-on-one students for the upcoming November group origami session on the 16th. Ms. Pat used an older publication to introduce children to the concept of indigenous peoples and an update on preferred terminology in a way they can grasp. We began with an exploration of this reported friendly encounter, as told in “Squanto and the first Thanksgiving”! Hopefully, further explorations of the Native American experiences will follow in weeks to come. These sessions ended with the students using Keynote, a PowerPoint-like app, on their MacBook laptops to type in names or titles, send to the printer, and cut out personalized Thanksgiving table tents for the dinner table. They were excited to surprise their parents and grands with them!

october 2022 - Happy Pumpkin

The Lincoln Heights’ kids love it when Dr. E. J. comes to visit in the Althea Center and teaches them origami (paper folding) for the month. In fact, the volume goes way, way, up when her picture appears on the computer screen in the room. Ms. Pat covers her ears and demands quiet but Dr. E. J. eggs them on and thinks it is great energy. Dr. E. J. Zoomed in on Wednesday, October 19th with tales about Halloween and the use of pumpkins and other scary things around the world. Ms. Pat shared a PowerPoint presentation on the same computer screen with pictures of everyone who was participating. These 10 kids were just about finished with their origami pumpkins but time was ticking away. Ms. Pat made the final folds and taped them to their treat bags, which were full of all kinds of goodies. Everyone had fun.

Dr. EJ and kids working on their pumpkin
february 2022 - Valentine's day

The theme for this month was the Celebration of Valentine’s Day Around the World. Students read the PowerPoint slides describing how the day was celebrated in the USA, Brazil, Israel, Lebanon, Portugal, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Bangladesh. These countries were pointed out on the lighted globe and their relative distance from the USA and each other was discussed. Dr. E.J. had special insights into the customs of her home country, South Korea. The students were then asked “What Does it Mean to be Good Hearted? A discussion of Love and Kindness Languages (Chapman & others) followed in which suggestions were given on how to give compliments, what to say when giving a gift, and how to show love and kindness through acts of service to others or behaviors. Each student then folded an origami heart with guidance from Dr. E.J. and/or Dr. Pat. All were proud of their finished products and were excited to give to a parent or take to school.

Dr. E.J and kids
december 2021 - Gift Giving

The theme was Gift Giving and those traditions in China, Egypt, Ghana, Russia, France, and the USA. The student-written story was “Ella’s Sweet Surprise”, inspired by “The Gift of Strawberries”, and the art piece was an origami gift box.

gift boxes
November 2021 - Maple leaf

The theme was Maple Leaves with a focus on Canada, its flag, and its customs and uses of the Maple sap. It also looked at the importance of Maple trees to other economies. The story, “Maple Nation” was written by a student but inspired by another published piece with a similar title. It focused on the effects of global warming on a Maple tree economy. The art was an origami Maple leaf.

origami maple leaves
august 2021 - The art of folding paper
origami cranes

AATLC President, Dr. Pat Leigh, presented the activity “Japanese Math and Origami”. Young students were taught the art of paper folding, a tradition that originated in Japan but is also rooted in Korean culture. Dr. E.J., a Korean American, Iowa State University professor, taught this technique via Zoom with the in-person assistance of Dr. Pat. The lesson had elements of math (triangles, squares, rectangles), literacy (“The Story of 1000 Cranes” captioned video), geography (maps and globes), culture (poster discussion) and art (making the origami crane). Students were successful in making their own cranes and enjoyed the process.

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