Making three-dimensional shapes out of paper allows us to explore physical space and measurement. The process can be used to teach maths, science or art. Use the shapes to make toys or calculate mass. The possibilities are endless, and all you need is imagination and a few simple tools. Start with a simple cube to learn the basics of folding and assembling three-dimensional objects using paper.
Lay out the piece of paper so it is portrait style with the short edges at the top and bottom and the long edges at the sides. Measure 6 mm (1/4 inch) from the top and draw a line across the top.
Measure and mark with a pencil to divide the page into three, equal columns from top to bottom.
Measure and mark with a pencil to divide the page into four, equal segments from right to left. This should leave you with a grid of four sections top to bottom and three columns left to right. You will form the cube out of the middle column vertically and the third horizontal strip from the top.
Measure and mark a 6 mm (1/4 inch) perimeter around the top two squares and the bottom square (sides only) in the middle, vertical column.
Cut the top two squares in the middle column, include all three boxes of the third, horizontal strip, and the final, bottom square in the middle column. Mind the perimeter marks. These will be your flaps for gluing. You should have a cross-shaped piece of paper.
Cut angles for the corners of the flaps on the three squares (top two and bottom one) of the vertical column to make the flaps look like a trapezoid shape. This will help when folding and gluing these tabs.
Fold the first square downward, away from you, on the line you drew in step 1. Fold the second square in the same direction. Fold the two squares on either side of the horizontal row, outward, away from you. Fold the bottom square upward, away from you. The cube is taking shape.
Fold the tabs inward and put glue on the outside. As you bring the cube together, the tabs will take hold of the other squares, holding its cube shape. Allow the glue to dry.
The key to making three-dimensional shapes with paper is in the tabs and how it is folded. Whether you make a cone or pyramid, tabs help hold the shape.