How to Make a Paper Chatterbox

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Chatterboxes will hold children’s attention for hours, both in making them and playing with them. You might have known them as fortune-tellers or cootie catchers when you were young, but by whatever name you know them, everyone remembers peeking at the secrets hiding under the geometric folds.

Things You'll Need

  • Sheet of paper
  • Scissors
  • Markers or crayons
  • Pen or Pencil
Share some rainy day fun with a chatterbox.
Share some rainy day fun with a chatterbox. (Image: Jeff Farris)

Step 1

Brightly colored markers and a little folding turn a standard sheet of printer paper into hours of interactive fun. Please see the last slide for an itemized list of tools and materials.

Chatterbox materials
Chatterbox materials (Image: Jeff Farris)

Step 2

Make a square of paper by folding the bottom edge of a standard rectangular sheet of paper over diagonally to meet the side edge. Cut off the strip of paper that extends beyond the fold. Unfold the paper to complete the square.

Cut a perfect square.
Cut a perfect square. (Image: Jeff Farris)

Step 3

Fold the paper in half diagonally, folding the point with the previous crease over to the opposing point. When you open the paper you should have creases running from corner to corner, intersecting at the center of the paper.

Locate the center with diagonal folds.
Locate the center with diagonal folds. (Image: Jeff Farris)

Step 4

Fold each corner of the square in to the center point. Crease the paper well.

Fold in all corners.
Fold in all corners. (Image: Jeff Farris)

Step 5

Turn the paper over. Fold each corner in to the center point again. The paper may be more difficult to fold this time, since it’s twice as thick, so make sure to crease the paper firmly.

Turn over and fold to center again.
Turn over and fold to center again. (Image: Jeff Farris)

Step 6

Fold the paper in half to make a rectangle. (It doesn’t matter if you fold from top to bottom or side to side.) Fold the paper in half again to make a square, and crease. Unfold these two folds. Insert your finger into the flap at the corner of the paper and gently pull up to fluff the paper out. Do the same for the other three corners.

Open up corners.
Open up corners. (Image: Jeff Farris)

Step 7

Flatten the chatterbox again. Color each of the four outer corners with a different color. Your chatterbox will play more uniformly if two of the colors have an even number of letters and two have an odd number of letters.

Color each corner.
Color each corner. (Image: Jeff Farris)

Step 8

Open the chatterbox up once and number each flap.

Number flaps.
Number flaps. (Image: Jeff Farris)

Step 9

Open again and write a fortune or silly saying under each number. Refold back to its finished shape and you’re ready to play.

Write fortunes.
Write fortunes. (Image: Jeff Farris)

Step 10

Ask your playmate to pick a color. Open the chatterbox in alternating directions while spelling the color, keeping the chatterbox open after the last letter. Ask your playmate to pick a number from the ones showing. Open the chatterbox in alternating directions while counting to the chosen number. Ask your playmate to pick a number from those showing, pick up that flap and read her fortune!

Find your fortune!
Find your fortune! (Image: Jeff Farris)

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Tips & Warnings

  • Supervise children when using sharp tools.
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