Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Lessons in paper-folding introduce children to Asian arts




By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        COLERAIN TWP. — Fourth-graders at Houston Elementary School thought they were going to an assembly Monday to learn how to fold paper.

        What they found was Jonathan Heart, Cincinnati's self-proclaimed “Origami Wizard,” who not only showed them how to make a “magic square,” but also taught them facts about the Japanese craft through a quiz show format called “Origami Meets The Price is Right.”

        "My goal is to get them excited and, in the middle of that, an art lesson happens,” said Mr. Heart, of Sycamore Township.

        Mr. Heart's presentation was part of the students' exposure to artistic and cultural offerings of China and Asian Pacific countries through a program called Arts of the Pacific Rim. It's coordinated by music teacher Carolyn Eagen and spe cial-education teacher Debbie Dudukovich. It is funded through a grant from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

        “We're trying to open them up to experience cultures of the world,” said Ms. Eagen.

        In one segment of his hourlong program, questions about the Japanese yen and origami were featured in “Who Wants to be a Dollaraire?” In each segment, students and teachers were awarded prizes made of origami, including a triangular box, paper doll clothing and even a car.

        Mr. Heart showed the students how to make a Frisbee out of eight pieces of paper and how to make a Slinky.

        Ten-year-old Ashley Cooper was given the task of taking four cubes — each side a different color — and arranging them so that every time the cubes were turned no two cubes had the same color showing.

        “It was hard because every time you got it together, it didn't work,” said Ashley, who eventually arranged the cubes in the proper order. “I think he's (Mr. Heart) really nice. He's wild and his point is to make everything fun. It was!”

        Antenique Lumpkin needed help when Mr. Heart led the nearly 100 students step by step through the process of making magic squares — one of the most versatile origami shapes.

        “The hardest part was remembering all the folds” in the right order, said Antenique. “I might do it at home now.”

        Later this month, the students will listen to musician Ming Kee play the pipa, a traditional Chinese four-string lute. Charlie Yu will demonstrate calligraphy and different kinds of rice and egg rolls. Next month, Yoshino Nakao will present a formal Japanese tea ceremony.

       



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