Math with Paper: Fold Some Math into Your Day!

Many fun math games for families can be done with materials you probably have at home already, such as scrap paper. Learn how to create origami shapes, be a paper math wizard, and support children’s learning with these activities.

There are lots of fun math activities for families to do together that don’t require special materials. In fact, with just a few sheets of paper, families can find fun ways to explore math ideas and problem solving!

Why Do Math with Paper?

Kids can learn a lot about math at home through hands-on, playful activities that inspire conversations about numbers, shapes, and spatial relations.

The activities outlined below introduce and reinforce math concepts while encouraging creativity. They are also easy to adapt for different ages and may be done with multiple kids at once. Because families can do them together, it’s a great opportunity to talk about math.


Many of these activities can be done with whatever paper is available—even scrap paper, newspapers, or magazine pages would work. Scissors, hole punchers, and pencils or markers will be helpful, too.

Math with Paper Activities


Origami is great for thinking about shapes and ideas of space and place. The same sheet of paper can look completely different depending on where and how it gets folded. 

A quick search online will lead you to lots of origami instructions. Here are some origami projects to get you started:

Paper Wizard 

Mental imagery—the ability to imagine what a shape looks like or to move objects around in your mind—is an important part of math. This activity helps children practice thinking about spatial information and imagining how space can be transformed without actually seeing it. 

Even More Ideas

There are lots of ways to explore math with paper! Check out our printable Guide to Math with Paper for ways to keep going and to support children’s math thinking during all of these activities. You can also get creative and think of your own ways to do math with paper.

About the Authors

Sarah Eason is an assistant professor in the Human Development and Family Studies Department at Purdue University.

Michelle Hurst is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago.

Susan Levine, Ph.D., is the Rebecca Anne Boylan Professor of Education and Society in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago.

Amy Claessens is an associate professor and the Gulbrandsen Distinguished Chair in Early Childhood Education in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Madeleine Oswald is a former DREME affiliate.

Kassie Kerr is a former DREME affiliate.

Abrea Greene is a former DREME affiliate.