Back to School with Lissy and Lots of Origami

One of my greatest pet peeves: Christmas decorations on sale before Halloween. Makes me totally crazy. I’m a purist – no Christmas until Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) is over, thankyouverymuch.

So I’ve been wondering when it is okay to start discussing (gulp!) back-to-school topics? I note that stores are now advertising back to school specials, and displays are overflowing with school supplies. I think I’m in the clear. Of course, this is if you’re a Texan. I know some other folk head back after Labor Day, but for those of us who return in a matter of days or weeks, the countdown is on.

Are you ready?

What kind of question is that? Of course you’re not ready! There is so much to tackle…

So, may I?why lissy

Let’s take a look at some books that beg to be read the first week or so of school. If you’re attempting to get your child excited about class or wondering how to break the ice in your classroom, I’ve got oodles of ideas for you.

Today, I’d love to chat a while about Lissy’s Friends by Grace Lin. Lissy is the new girl in school, and her mom encourages her to get out there and make some new friends. She does. She makes lots and lots of friends – origami friends. One day, her friends fly off the merry-go-round on which they are playing, upsetting Lissy until a new friend (of the human variety) stops to return one of them. And so, Lissy makes more and more friends — friends who are interested in her origami and more animal origami friends.

I can honestly spend hours on this one picture book – such a meaningful way to start the year! Examine Lissy’s expressions throughout the book. What do you think she is feeling? Sad? Happy? Shy? Nervous? Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever seen someone feel this way? What an empathy builder!

easyoAnd tell me about her friends . . .

Let’s just say here that some children already know about origami; often, there will be one who can already fold a woolly mammoth. Others have no idea whatsoever what you’re talking about when you say the word “origami.” No matter where they are in their personal origami discovery, folding some origami of your own is clearly what is necessary.

Lin includes directions in the front of her book to make Menu, the little bird friend in the book. Should you wish to try something a little more elementary, check out one of my favorite origami sites. There are loads of simple origami animals here that might be a little easier as a starter, building your way up to a more complex set of folds.


Yeah, I’m going to open up this can of worms. True story: a mom and a volunteer a few jobs ago had a son who checked out origami book after origami book. She came in one day and said, “Enough! No more origami!!” She was kidding (sort of) because once your kiddo gets the origami bug, it is difficult to control it.

However, origami is some pretty fantastic fine motor practice. You might be surprised by how many children really have a hard time creating a sharp fold in a piece of paper, much less following directions. If you have the patience for it, an origami center (at home or in your doriclassroom) is kinda a killer idea! Print out some instructions (or purchase a how-to origami book) and some square paper. And no, you don’t need origami paper – just cut colored paper into squares! Easy peasy. See what friends your kiddos can make!

Pair Lissy’s Friends with More-igami by Dori Kleber! Like Lissy, Joey has a passion for origami, but to become an expert, he’ll need to practice. Another cute story that encompasses new friends, persistence, and some serious origami.

So, here we are discussing a new girl in school, her possible thoughts and feelings and then we got totally derailed by origami. I told you I can spend hours on this book! And here is another thought: at the end of the story, Lissy’s (original origami) friends mail her a postcard from Paris (nice that the wind blew them to such a fabulous location). Maybe this could start a classroom mail center. Or, perhaps inspire you to send a postcard to a friend who doesn’t attend your school. Endless possibilities.

These summer mornings on the porch will soon be replaced with quick gulps of coffee and carpooling and wait, where are my keys?! Before this all happens, though, join me again? I’ll be out here all week with more back-to-school books.

As always,

Keep Reading,


Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com

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