Pop-Up Paper Projects for Kids

Boost your child's STEAM skills by following these simple steps to create a 3-D card or book.
May 20, 2019



Pop-Up Paper Projects for Kids

May 20, 2019

Young authors, aspiring engineers, and kids who love art will all have fun with this creative project that lets them use paper and scissors to engineer pop-up designs from paper. Whether they want to make a special birthday card or tackle the challenge of designing a pop-up book, kids will love the 3-D results of this project.

What You’ll Need

  • Notebook (optional)
  • Card Stock or small greeting cards
  • Markers
  • Glue
  • Tape

Safety Tips and Hints: Younger learners may initially need some help to make the cuts, but once they get the hang of it, it’s a great way to practice using scissors.

What to Do  

Step 1: Learn to make a V-fold. Ask your child to fold a piece of paper in half or use a pre-folded card to begin.
Step 2: To make a V-fold, cut a diagonal line on a folded card and crease it down from both sides. (See photograph.) Start with a cut about an inch long
Step 3: Let your child open and close the card to watch it pop out.    
Step 4: Suggest that your child glue the pop-out card onto a second card or into a notebook so that the shape pops out when you open the book. It’s fun to tape a green card onto a red card and draw eyes so that it looks like a frog or dragon opening its mouth! 

Step 5: Try another fold! Help your child create a layer fold by making two identical parallel cuts (about an inch long) in a new piece of folded paper. Explain that 'parallel' means that the lines are going the same direction and stay exactly the same distance apart.

Step 6: Once you’ve made the cuts, open the card and push the fold in towards you, to see how it pops out.

Step 7: Let your child use glue to attach a shape that they’d like to have pop out. Decorate the pop-up and surrounding paper with markers or more paper and glue it into a notebook or use it as a card.

Step 8: Ask your young learner to create more pop-out designs.

Step 9: Can your child think up a short story to illustrate using pop-ups? Help pre-school kids write their stories down in a notebook, so they can illustrate them on the pages using pop-up characters. Older kids will be able tackle writing and design on their own.

Creative Enrichment:  Make pull-tabs to make things in your book move. Research more types of folds used in pop-up art and try them out.


The STEAM Behind the Fun

Pop-up books are a great hands-on way to explore engineering. When you play with pop-ups, you’re turning a two-dimensional piece of paper into a three-dimensional, moving creation. Paper is inexpensive to play with; it comes in many different thicknesses, and you can decorate it easily using color and design—so your imagination is the limit to what you can create.

V-folds make things move in an arc, but layers are boxes that open up and are used for structure.

Engineers often design objects and test them out on computers, but pop-ups demonstrate that building things yourself can be the quickest, easiest way to learn how they work. Experts say that there’s no substitute for hand-building when it comes to pop-up designs. 


This project and more like it are featured in Liz’s new book STEAM Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Hands-On Projects Using Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (Quarry Books, spring 2018).

© Quarry Books, 2018/STEAM Lab for Kids; featured photo credit: © Quarry Books

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