August 13, 2022

As parents, we're always looking for new, fun, and engaging activities to keep our kids entertained. Even with all the toys and gadgets, sometimes it's the simplest things that can provide hours of fun. So, why not rely on an old classic from our childhood? Introducing: the cootie catcher!

What is a cootie-catcher?

If you're not familiar with this childhood favorite, a cootie catcher is a simple paper toy that can be folded and played with in a variety of ways. They are actually a simple form of origami. Not only do they require very few supplies to make, but there are also endless games and activities that can be played with them.

A step-by-step guide to making your own cootie catcher:

We hope you have just as much fun making your own cootie-catcher as we did creating this tutorial! 

Step 1. Cut your sheet of paper into a square. (If your paper is already square, proceed to step 2)

  • Take your 8.5"x11" sheet of paper and fold it in half diagonally to form a perfect triangle.
  • Slide your finger or nail along the fold to create a crease.
  • Once folded, cut off the excess paper, so you're left with a perfect triangle. Unfold your triangle, and you'll be left with a perfect square.

Step 2. Fold your square in half lengthwise.

Take your square and fold it in half lengthwise. Again, make sure to create a crease. Then unfold the square.

Step 3. Fold your square in half widthwise.

Now, take your square sheet of paper and fold it in half widthwise. Once again, make sure to create a crease before unfolding the paper. There should now be a large X going through the center of your unfolded square.

Step 4. Fold each corner of your square into the center.

Take each corner of your square and fold it into the center, making sure to crease well. You should now have a smaller square with four triangular flaps.

Step 5. Flip the smaller square over, and fold the corners in again.

Flip your smaller square over so that the folded corners from step 4 face the back, and fold each corner into the middle once again. This will create four triangular pockets in your smaller square/diamond shape. 

You're nearly finished!

Step 6. Fold your square in half in both directions.

Fold your square in half lengthwise and widthwise to reassert the creases. Once you've made all of your folds, proceed to the final step.

Step 7. Create the final cootie catcher shape.

Flip your square back over to where four small squares meet in the center. Pull these squares open towards you, then poke your thumbs and pointer fingers into the pockets, curling them towards you to form the traditional 3D cootie catcher shape. Using your thumbs and fingers, you should be able to open and close the cootie catcher lengthwise and widthwise to reveal the flaps inside.

Now you have your own homemade cootie catcher! All that's left to do is to decorate it depending on your chosen game and start playing.

(optional) Step 8. Add writing, colors, and numbers to your cootie catcher.

  1. Label the 4 outside flaps with a different color, i.e., green, red, blue, and yellow.
  2. Then, label the inside flaps with numbers counting up from one to eight.
  3. Finally, open the final layer of folds to reveal 8 triangular spaces for writing. The 8 interior sections are available to write whatever you'd like and are open for your own creativity, for example:

  • What was your most embarrassing moment?
  • Who do you look up to most and why?
  • Tell a joke;
  • Put an ice cube down your back and leave it there for one minute.

How to play the cootie-catcher game

The traditional cootie catcher game is played by placing your cootie catcher in front of another person and having them choose one of the 4 colors on the outside.

Once they've chosen a color, use your fingers to open and close the cootie catcher. You'll go up and down and side to side as you spell out the color they've chosen. For example, if they chose blue, you would open and close the cootie catcher 4 times: B-L-U-E.

After you've spelled out the color, they then choose one of the 4 available numbers on the interior set of flaps. You then open and close the cootie catcher based on their chosen number, counting up from one. So, if they chose the number "three," you would open and close the cootie catcher three times as you count: "One, two, three."

For this last step, they will choose a final number that you will flip up to reveal what is written inside. 

And that's all there is to it! The cootie catcher game is a classic childhood favorite for a reason - it's easy, it's fun, and it can be played again and again.

Making cootie catchers is also a fun craft for your next sleepover. See our guide for 10 Fun Ideas For the Best Back-to-School Sleepover Party! (include link once posted)

4 More cootie catcher ideas for kids

While the traditional cootie catcher game is a lot of fun, there are also many other ways to use your cootie catcher. Here are 4 of our favorites:

Use it as a learning tool: The cootie catcher can be used as an educational tool to help children learn spelling, counting, colors, and more. Simply label the outside flaps with drawn objects (a dog, a bike, a car, etc.), numbers, or colored circles and have your child spell out the word, count the number, or name and spell the color as they play.

Turn it into a story starter: Use the cootie catcher as a way to get your child's imagination going. On the inside flaps, write down different story starters, such as "Once upon a time there was a princess who..." or "In a galaxy far, far away there was a young boy named..." and have your child choose one to start telling their story. Or, you can also use this as a fun way to make up bedtime stories for them.

Use it as a conversation starter: This is a great way to get kids talking, especially if they're shy. On the inside flaps, write down different conversation starters such as "What's your favorite animal and why?" or "If you could have one superpower, what would it be?" and have them answer the one they end up choosing. 

Use it for writing prompts to help your child journal: On the inside flaps, write down different journal prompts such as "What are you grateful for today?" or "Write about your best memory from this past week." Or better yet, visit our Life is a Doodle homepage to download a FREE Writing Prompt Cootie Catcher that is already filled with prompts and ready for you to print!

Related article: 11 Science-Backed Reasons To Have Your Child Keep a Daily Journal for Kids

We hope you enjoyed learning all about cootie catchers and that you have fun using them with your kids! Check back soon and visit the blog for fun activities, gift guides, and more. Until then, happy playing!

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Journal Writing Prompt Cootie Catcher


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