Origami Paper Cup

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My dad was a salesman, so we moved a lot.  I kind of liked relocating; getting a new house, a new bedroom, and new friends…experiencing new adventures.

One of my favorite moves happened in the middle of my third grade year.  We relocated to a suburb of St. Louis.  The house my parents bought was in a new development.   The area was crawling with kids.  Across the street were identical twin boys, my age.  (I was the only kid at school who could identify which one was Bob and which was Bill.)  They had a younger brother, Brad, who collected his own boogers in a jar, just in case he got hungry for a booger.

Adjacent to the twins was a family with four girls.  They all had names that started with the letter A.  (Maybe alliteration was a thing in that neighborhood.)  That family was tons of fun!  I think both of their parents worked and the oldest daughter, Allison, was in charge.  She was just one year older than me, but she seemed so much older than the rest of us.  I remember one time the girls invited me inside for a snack.  Their cupboard was bare, so Allison filled teacups with water and gave us each a napkin with a dog biscuit on it.  It wasn’t good, like an actual biscuit, but it wasn’t terrible either.

It was during the four years we lived in this neighborhood that I was obsessed with becoming a successful entrepreneur.  My first business scheme involved creating and selling necklaces, bracelets, and crowns I made by tying clover flowers together.  That business didn’t really take off.  My merchandise kept dying before I could get anyone to buy it.  Next I created homes for pet turtles and frogs; shoe boxes filled with mud and grass.  We had a lot of turtles and frogs in the area.  The problem with that business, I was the only kid who caught reptiles and amphibians and kept them as pets.  I needed merchandise with a broader appeal.

My “ah-ha” moment happened when my fourth grade teacher taught us how to make origami paper cups.  It was the best invention ever.  She let us fill them with water from the drinking fountain and drink from them.  When the final bell rang, I ran home from school and set up a folding table in front of my driveway.  On it I placed my Snoopy Snow Cone Maker, a pot filled with ice cubes, a pitcher of cherry Kool-aid, and a stack of freshly folded origami paper cups.  If you have ever made a snow cone with a Snoopy Snow Cone Maker, you know it takes a lot of muscle power to turn the crank; about ten minutes to grind up enough ice for one tiny snow cone.  I was charging ten cents per cone; about a penny for every fifty cranks.  The line was getting long.  My arm was getting sore.  The ice in the pot was melting rapidly.  The kids who had purchased the snow cones were red and sticky.  The origami cups were collapsing before the consumers could consume.

I think I made a dollar that day, but I had to share the money with my neighbors, Alana and Bob, because they helped me.  I got yelled at by some parents who were mad about their kids’ Kool-aid stained hands and clothing.  I got yelled at by my dad who was tired after a long day at work and wanted to park in his garage that was blocked by a snow cone stand.  And to this day, my mom still yells at me because I accidentally threw out her best cooking pot when I cleaned up the mess.


Here it is, the ORIGAMI CUP pattern and template.  I hope it inspires a memorable business venture for an innovative entrepreneur.



Right out of college I was hired by a small private school as a first grade teacher.  A requirement of the job was to work at the school’s after-care program twice a week.  And that required ten hours of classroom instruction to get a certificate stating you were qualified to babysit for a large number of children.  At first, I was a bit miffed.  I’d been a babysitter all my life and I had just spent four years getting a degree in education.  Why did I have to go to these extra classes?  But as it turned out, the weekend long seminar was transformative.

The woman in charge of the seminar was impressive.  She spoke with confidence and conviction.  The session began with a lecture about discipline, “If you get angry with a child and your reaction is to scream or to hit that child, then you are in the wrong field.  You are responsible for helping these kids become good citizens.  You need to teach them problem solving and how to work with others.  If your method is ‘I don’t like what you are doing, so I’m going to scream or hit you,’ what are you teaching?   Screaming and hitting aren’t helpful to anyone.  It’s just lazy, ineffective discipline.  If a child does something to make you feel angry, calmly let the child know you’re mad.  Ask the child to take a seat.   Let them know you will talk to them in a few minutes.  Use those minutes to take a few deep breaths.   When you feel like you have regained composure, you can begin a dialog with the child.  Your calm words will stay with them a lot longer than ranting or spanking ever will.  And together, you can come up with a solution so the incident won’t be repeated.  The time out will benefit you as much as the child.  Taking a breath and thinking it through shows strength and character.  Be a good role model.”

You are probably thinking, ‘Didn’t you  learn about classroom discipline in college?’  Yes, in fact I took a class called, “Classroom Discipline.”  In that class I learned that a section of the whiteboard can be used as a public wall of shame where the names of those who break the rules and check marks to indicate the number of infractions are written for all to see.   There are rewards for those who follow the rules and consequences for those who don’t.  And that works pretty well with first graders.  But while I was listening to the lecture, I wasn’t really thinking about my role as a teacher. I was thinking about parenting, and I wasn’t even a parent, yet.  As a child, I was spanked and yelled at often.  It never stopped me from misbehaving.  It just made me fear the consequences after the fact.  Also, I have a bit of a temper.  As a kid it was hard to contain the “Hulk” inside me.  It made me wonder if time outs and meaningful discussions would have curbed that part of me.

When I finally became a parent, I often reflected back on that seminar.  As a toddler my daughter, Alyssa, had a defiant curiosity.  When I’d see her getting ready to do something she shouldn’t do, I would ask her not to do it.  She’d stare right through me with her dark brown eyes, wait a few minutes, and do exactly what I just asked her not to do.   “Please don’t dip your toothbrush in the toilet.”  DIP! “Please don’t draw on our family photos.”  SCRIBBLE!  SCRIBBLE!  “Please don’t use the drawers of that cabinet as stairs.”  She not only climbed up, she danced when she got to the top.  I really had to fight my inner Hulk with this kid.   I chose a special place for Alyssa to sit while we both took a breather.  Her “time out” chair was a child-size director’s chair.  She’d sit in that chair while I waited for Bruce Banner to return.  Then as my mild-mannered self, I’d ask, “Why was that a bad choice?”  Then I’d lecture about the consequences of her actions.  I’d end the discussion with, “What will you do differently next time?”  She once glared at me with a rebellious expression and said, “The next time I have to sit here, I will cover my ears with my hands so your words can’t hurt them.”

Shortly before Alyssa’s fourth birthday, my husband and I were cleaning out the garage.  We were planning to have a garage sale.  Alyssa wanted to know why we were selling our garage.  I explained, “We’re not selling the garage.  We’re using it as a store to sell the things we don’t want anymore.”  Alyssa said, “I’ve got something I don’t want.”  A few minutes later she returned to the garage, dragging the director’s chair behind her.


Here’s a fun craftivity for a large or small group of kids.  You only need one pattern per child and there are three on each page. So, it won’t require a lot of paper. Click to get the template and instructions for the “YELL-O-COPTER.”  Hopefully, it will inspire 100% fun and 0% time out.