Category Archives: 20-minute Activity

I Am Fortune’s Fool: 20-Minute Lesson Activity

“I’ll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there’s any evidence of any thinking going on inside it.”

– Terry Pratchett

The rubric is to teach a twenty-minute lesson to the CLF participants.  It can be any topic of interest and not necessarily our subject area. I’ve let this casually percolate deep within the dusty labyrinthine oubliette that has become my Summer Brain during this vacation period whilst focusing on acquainting myself with KS3 authors (half of whom I hadn’t heard of before, which shocked me straight into the children’s section of the local library to sort myself out). Every so often a thought bubbles up excitedly for casual consideration (How about crochet? Knitting? Boxing? Comma Karate? The finer points of Boccia?) and then gets iconoclastically blasted away for some reason or other (I don’t have enough yarn [or really, I want to keep my yarn stash completely for myself]… Not enough hooks or needles… Boxing would be difficult if we’re in a small room and people are suited and booted… People just might not want to do it… Boring… Not challenging enough… Too challenging…). And then I thought, well, of course! Realistically, isn’t this what an actual learning situation could be in a classroom you’ve never been in before and with students you’ll be meeting for the first time? I need to make it suitable for everyone, any room, with few resources. Things to consider…

A couple of days ago I remembered something that Chris had said as an aside when we were talking about the delivery of  Learning Objectives. Usually, they were written or shown on the board. He said that he has hidden them under seats, but was considering other methods of delivery and jokingly added he wished he could bake fortune cookies.

*I can make fortune cookies.*


Living in Japan for five years has been such an amazing adventure and I think it would be interesting to share some of the experiences and ideas I’ve learnt with the group. Perhaps showing how to make an origami fortune cookie would be an interesting activity to present to the class. Reusable origami fortune cookies could be used in various ways in the classroom. The Japanese have a fantastic ability for recognising an idea and enhancing it. I would really like to hear the other ideas and suggestions the other participants have about the uses these fortune cookies have, too – adding to resources and pooling ideas. Perhaps I can think outside the box by thinking of what’s inside the box and then by doing some thinking about the boxes themselves… Maybe I’ll chuck in some String Theory and consider these boxes in multidimensional contexts, but, that really might be far too much for a 20-minute activity…

Materials Needed:

  • 3 pieces of origami paper per participant
  • large origami paper for demonstration
  • pre-made fortune cookies with Shakespearean fortunes (quotations) inside
  • a few copies of the instruction handout (with folding stages, diagrams, and trigger story)


1. First, give the participants a fortune cookie each and explain that they have a puzzle and the aim is to get to their fortune, which is inside the box without ripping the paper. One fortune cookie will have the Learning Objective (LO) inside and the person who finds it has to read it out to the class to establish what we will be doing for this lesson. During this time, the other participants can have a giggle at their Shakespearean fortunes.

2. Once the LO has been established (LO: To make an origami fortune cookie), I’ll then briefly explain why I decided to choose this activity and then give them an overview of the lesson plan. During this time, I’ll ask some participants to help distribute 3 pieces of origami paper to each person.

3. Demonstrate “mountain” and “valley” folds, as participants will need this knowledge first before continuing (use enlarged paper so that everyone can see).

4. Then, I will demonstrate how to make the first piece. People learn in different ways. There will be a lot of visual instruction and all stages of the folding must be completed correctly in order to make a successful fortune cookie. I will also introduce a story using vocabulary that will trigger the memory of the stages during the retelling or recall. The participants will copy me and make their first piece.

5. After the demonstration, I need to ask if they need the story repeating or if any sections need to be clarified.

6. Three identical pieces need to be made. So far, the participants will have made one piece each. Participants will now work in pairs. One member will retell the story first and the pairs will make their second pieces. If they need help I will walk around helping and using vocabulary triggers, if needed. A handout detailing the folding method and the story will be accessible, but only if participants cannot remember the story or the stages, even with help.

7. The other member of the pair will retell the story next and both members will fold their final piece. I used to use actions or visual triggers to help my students of English retell a lengthy story word-for-word, so it will be interesting to see if a story can trigger visual recall.

8. Consolidation: When all three pieces of the puzzle have been made, I will demonstrate how to assemble the fortune cookie. Then the participants assemble their fortune cookies.

9. Plenary: It would be interesting if we could have a group discussion about where and how we could apply these fortune cookies in other areas of the classroom, how they could be used in other subjects, and for what activities (other than LO delivery).

Further Information: If participants wish to have a handout for personal use, they can download a PDF copy here.