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Modular Origami – Sonobe Classroom Display

I created this classroom display to show off the different modular origami projects I have created over the years from sonobe units. Almost every year, I make origami sonobe hexahedrons and cubes with my students. Some students opt to create additional sonobe units to create larger units.

Modular Origami - Sonobe Classroom Display

Now that I have them hanging from the ceiling, students can see the names of the different origami models and how many sonobe units are required to build them. I also like that having them on display from day one will build student anticipation for when we finally learn to create them. Usually, I do origami as an end-of-year project.

Modular Origami - Sonobe Classroom Display

As a first year teacher, I purchased a copy of Unfolding Mathematics with Unit Origami. From this book, I learned to fold sonobe units which can be assembled into various different modular origami pieces.

While this origami book is an excellent resource, you don’t have to purchase it to learn how to fold a sonobe unit. Maths Craft New Zealand has a nice printable set of directions for folding a sonobe unit. I have printed these instructions and given them directly to students. They also have a printable tutorial for assembling six sonobe units into a cube and a tutorial for assembly twelve sonobe units into an octahedron.

I cut regular colored copy paper into 8.5″ squares for students to use for origami building. If you are wanting to make decorations for your own classroom, you can use 12″ scrapbook paper to make jumbo-sized origami models.

Modular Origami - Sonobe Classroom Display

Full Disclosure: It took me 9 years of teaching students to fold sonobe units to learn how to build the 30 piece icosahedron. There are some excellent YouTube videos that show various assembly methods. I recommend checking these videos out to learn how to assemble the larger units.

sonobe icosahedron origami

The great thing about the octahedron is that it only requires 12 sonobe units. Usually, I tell students that if they build two cubes that they can take them apart and assemble them into an octahedron.

sonobe octahedron origami

For the colliding cubes, build one cube as normal. Then, take apart one of the corners and add in the additional three sonobe units.

sonobe colliding cubes origami

Cubes are definitely a student favorite. They require six sonobe units. They are the most straight-forward model to assemble.

sonobe cube origami

The hexahedron is also known as “Toshie’s Jewel.” It only requires three units. I often have students build two hexahedrons to begin with. Then, they can take the two hexahedrons apart and form the cube.

sonobe hexahedron toshie's jewel origami

I used fishing line to hang my modular origami units from the ceiling.

Modular Origami - Sonobe Classroom Display

There is a binder clip inside each origami model that the fishing line is tied to. It isn’t perfect. A large metal washer would work better, but I didn’t have any in my classroom on the day I decided to hang these up. I do have binder clips galore, though.

Modular Origami - Sonobe Classroom Display

I could just look at these all day long. They make my math teacher heart so happy.

Modular Origami - Sonobe Classroom Display

I am sharing the posters I created to hang under each model at the bottom of this post in case you want to create your own modular origami display.

Modular Origami - Sonobe Classroom Display

I printed the names on regular copy paper and glued them to colored cardstock.

Modular Origami - Sonobe Classroom Display

Warning – don’t hang these up unless you plan to let your students build them! They will bug you relentlessly until you give in. (True Story – this happened to me during my first year of teaching.

My sister had built a sonobe cube and octahedron as a MathCounts student. She gave them to me to decorate my first ever classroom. Students begged me at least once a week to build their own until I finally learned how!)

Modular Origami - Sonobe Classroom Display

There is a larger icosahedron that I have not built *yet* it requires 90 sonobe units! Maybe someday…

Modular Origami - Sonobe Classroom Display icosahedron octahedron

Free Download of Sonobe Origami Posters


Sonobe Labels (PDF) (282 downloads)


Sonobe Labels (Editable Publisher File ZIP) (117 downloads)