How to Make: Origami Jumping Frog

In honor of the Partners for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’s first annual Amphibian Week, I will be publishing two amphibian related activities. Each activity will require about 90 minutes altogether if you do all the parts, and each contains some observation, some playful learning opportunities, and concludes with a Maker project and a chance to reflect.

UPDATE EVENT POSTPONED: Out of respect for the nationwide protests across the United States that resulted from the most recent series of cases of police violence, most recently of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and so many others, I will postpone my Amphibian Week live event until a later date.

Ecological action and justice are intimately linked to racial and social justice on many levels because communities of color and former colonial lands have long been exploited and will be impacted more heavily by climate change.

However, the loss of human life right now requires a response, and I will spend this evening working on a different artistic project that I will be showing later this month about my intersectional identity and privilege as it relates to my grassroots, and activist practices.

I will be streaming a live class on Monday, June 1 at 4:30 PM EDT via GoogleMeet and FacebookLive. I will answer questions live in the GoogleMeet session, and find answers for questions that come up in the Facebook livestream later on.

To make the origami frog, you will need the following materials:

Drawing and coloring implements to create your frog’s camouflage pattern, plus card stock, recycled cardboard, a paper plate, business cards, or other stiff paper-like material. Regular paper will not work.  For example:

Essential questions: 

  • What influences how a frog jumps?
  • How does it relate to my body? 
  • What changes can I make to my paper frog to make it more like X frog which jumps far?  
  • What changes can I make to my paper frog to make it more like Y toad which walk-hops?

FIRST: Look 

  • Some frogs have long legs, some frogs have short legs.
  • Frogs that have short legs don’t jump as high or as far as frogs with long legs.  
  • Which frog do you think jumps the farthest?
  • What do you notice about these frogs?
    • (Shape color, legs, arms proportions)
FrogLeg lengthOther Observationsjumper?
African Red Legged Running frogLongGrey- brown with spotsYes
European Common ToadShortbumpy, green, black, and brownOk
Berdmore’s Chorus FrogLOOONG!Smooth, orange and purple brownsVery Good
Bumblebee toadShortAlmost black with yellow spotsCrawls

SECOND: Play

You will need: comfortable clothes, and a big space to walk, run, and jump and run in.  

Mark out the beginning and end of your racetrack.  If you have outdoor space great!  If not, you can run from one end of a room to another.  This is an experiment in thinking about how our bodies and the bodies of amphibians work.  

If you have a grown-up or friend who can time your race with their phone, that would be fun, but we can learn something even by yourself. You can try with different kinds of shoes,or holding onto your knee if you are alone.  The goal is to think about how it feels different when you move in a different way.  

Count your steps and record your time as you try these different ways of getting from one end of the room to the other:

  • Walk
  • Run
  • Tiptoe
  • Hop on one foot
  • Jump
  • Leap (from one foot to the other)
  • Hold onto your knees
  • Really fast but with the smallest steps you can make.
  • Walk with your hands and feet on the ground (or just crawl)

As you move, think about how that motion feels in your legs and your body.

As you move, try as hard as you can to go as fast as you can.

  • What do you notice?  
  • How many steps made the run faster?
  • Why do you think that running is faster than walking?
  • What do you notice about running versus leaping?  
  • How do you think this relates to frogs?
  • After running, walking, and leaping, why do you think that salamanders, another kind of amphibian, don’t jump?

THIRD: Make 

A sample of a frog, colored a bit like a bumblebee toad. Does it hop like a bumble toad or leap like a Beredmore’s Chorus Frog?

To engineer your frog you will want to cut your first piece of cardboard or card stock to be the same proportions as a business card which is 2” x 3.5”. 

  • If you want to make a bigger card, you can use math to make it bigger:
    • 2 / 3.5 = 4 / X
    • 2X = 3.5 * 4
    • X = 14/2
    • X = 7
    • So you could make a 4” x 7” rectangle to start

You can decorate your frog either before or after you fold.  

  • If you want to match one of the species in the video, it might be easier to color once your frog is folded, because it will be easier to see where the patterns match up.  
  • If you are inventing your own frog species, you can decide on an all-over pattern using repeating shapes and colors and glue on eyes later.  

FOLDING INSTRUCTIONS:

1. With the side you want on the outside down on the table, you are going to take the top edge, and make it match the left side of your card.  To crease, you can use the edge of your scissors handle, or a pen.  

2. Open it up.

3. Fold the top edge to match the right side of your card.  

4. Open it up.

5. You will see an X in the middle of the top part of your card. 

6. Match the top corners to the bottom corners of the X, not to the bottom of the card, but to the bottom of the x.

7. Open it up.

8. Flip it over and re-crease that fold.

9. Flip it back so that the side you want outside is on the table.  You will now have a line through your X.

10. Pinch that line.  Squish it flat. It will look like a Triangle.  

  • You have now made what Origami Specialists call the “Waterbomb Base” on the top part of your card.  It will look like a triangle

11. Fold the bottom right corner of your triangle up to the apex of the pyramid.

12. Fold the bottom left corner of your triangle up to the apex of the pyramid.  

  • You will now have an equilateral diamond inside your triangle

13. Take the right side of the square and fold the inside edge out to match the fold.  This does not have to be perfect.

14. Repeat on the left side: take the left side of the square and fold the inside edge to match the fold

  • These are the front legs.

15. We are now going to “Close the cupboard doors” to make our tadpole tail on the bottom part of the frog.  It does not have to be perfect.  Fold the right edge of the remaining rectangle so that the folded edge of the triangle matches up with the folded edge of the square and the outside edge of the rectangle is more or less to the halfway point.

16. Repeat on the left side.  

17. Flip the frog over and go over all the creases from the top.

18. Flip it so that the front legs are up again.  

19. We are now going to zig-zag the tadpole tail into a bent leg. It won’t be split, but the frog will jump better this way. Fold the back legs back like the frog is doing a head over heels yoga move.  

20. Unfold that.

21. Roll the edges.  This part will DEFINITELY not look perfect, but it’s important.

22. Re-fold the yoga move.

23. Fold the back leg-unit, which is really only one leg, so that it sticks out a tiny bit. 

24. Pinch the end of the legs (where the feet would be if it had two legs).

25. Flip the frog right-side up. YOU ARE FINISHED!

You can make your frog hop with two fingers, or with one. How far can it go?

More Resources about frogs and their jumping and walking abilities:

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/06/these-frogs-walk-instead-hop-video-reveals

An article with a neat video about frogs that crawl, which talks about the proportions of their legs and how that affects their movement preferences. (They can jump, they just don’t usually do it)

Images of the African Red Legged Running Frog, which jumps, runs, and climbs.

Another amphibian Physiology activity to learn more about frogs and how they move.

Images of Bumblebee toads, which apparently make great pets!

Berdmore’s Chorus Frog on Wikimedia

Images of Common toads

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