If you tell an elementary student to study for a test, he stares at a page of notes for a few minutes and then declares that he is finished. In my 4th grade classroom, if I want my students to do more than passively glance over a review sheet and regurgitate a few definitions without really seeing a bigger picture, I have to strategically provide study options for them. Foldable study tools are always a good idea because students love to work on anything that is a distant relative of a paper airplane, and many foldables provide a study option that is interactive.
This year, I have been using fortune tellers as one way to prepare for tests and quizzes. The original fortune tellers I made as a child had numbers on the different flaps and after flipping the sides back and forth a few times, you would lift a flap to reveal a fortune. I adapted that idea into a study tool.
I give students pieces of copy paper cut into 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ squares, and we fold. The students write different related concepts on the flaps, so they will be reminded to review the information in a variety of ways. The fortune tellers have the added benefit of a student being able to quiz himself or use it with a friend, parent, babysitter, or other study partner.
How to Make a Fortune Teller
- Fold the paper in half diagonally matching one corner of the paper to the opposite corner. Press the fold to make a sharp crease. Open the paper and repeat the other direction. Place the unfolded paper on a flat surface, and you will have a page that looks a little like a kite with two creases.
- Fold each corner carefully into the center, which will result in a smaller sized square.
- Turn the paper over, so the flaps are facing down. Then, fold each corner into the center of the paper again resulting in an even smaller square.
- Fold the paper in half making a rectangle.
- At this point, gently place your fingers under the loose flaps and wiggle the fortune teller open, so you have diamond shaped flaps and a foldable that kind of resembles an umbrella shape.
How to Make a Spelling Fortune Teller
- On the top of the fortune teller, you have space for 8 spelling words. Use words that relate to one central spelling rule or pattern.
- On the related triangle in the center of the fortune teller, write a variation of the original spelling word. For example, add a suffix to the original spelling word (play on the top and plays on the interior).
- On the underside of the interior flap, write an explanation of the rule you used when adding a suffix to the original spelling word. In my example, students were practicing the drop the Y rule. The underside of the flap listed what was happening with the letter Y when a suffix was added. In the case of the word play, it ends with the vowel, A, followed by the letter Y. When a word ends with a vowel then the letter Y, the Y stays when adding a suffix. When a word ends with a consonant followed by a Y, the Y goes away and is replaced with an I (cry to cries) When you add ING to a word that ends with Y, the Y remains no matter how a word is spelled at the end (say to saying or dry to drying).
- Students say aloud all of the different pieces of information on the fortune teller. They may look at the flaps to confirm if they are remembering the words and information correctly.
How to Make a Vocabulary Fortune Teller
- On the top of the fortune teller, you have space for 8 vocabulary words. Write words that relate to 1 or 2 roots or prefixes or another central topic you might be reviewing (electricity, geography terms…).
- On the related triangle in the center of the fortune teller, write the definition of the vocabulary word, the definition of the root or prefix, or the explanation of the key ideas from your unit of study. For example, if you are reviewing the root, numer, write the definition number on the interior triangle.
- On the underside of the interior flap, write a situation or example where the word might be used. With a word like numerical, an example could be numerical order in a book series.
- On my flaps that listed the root by itself, I wrote additional words that use the root. On the flap for mot, which means to move or to do, I have words like motor, motion, and motel on the underside space.
The goal of the study tool is to have students think about information in more than one way. Rather than memorizing a word and its definition, we want children thinking of ways to apply the word. Unless students have knowledge of topics from several different angles, they may not fully grasp a concept. These fortune tellers are a great way for students to review material, but it should not be the only way they study. What are additional study tool ideas? I would love to hear about your favorite review method.