Spinning Origami Dreidel

Paul Jackson's "Dreidl" made by 3 generations

Spinning “Dreidl” models

A 3-D paper dreidel that spins can attract kids who normally run the other way when they see origami on offer.  It moves.

The spinner comes from a wonderful book: Origami Toys That Tumble, Fly, and Spin, by Paul Jackson. He rates his “World’s Best Dreidl” (page 102) as Intermediate level origami. The folds do get rather thick toward the final steps, so very young (or very old) hands will need help smooshing it.

Kids can write the appropriate letter on each side (in the right order: see my dreidel chart), poke a wooden matchstick down the center, and spin.

Safety tip (literally): Decapitate matchsticks before you hand them out to children. Snip the colored business end of the match with a stout pair of scissors.
Pyro tip (literally): Secretly save match-heads for use at a solstice bonfire.

Paper: used wrapping paper is fine if you make these after gift-giving, but so is origami paper or just printer paper cut down into a square. Experiment to find out what kind makes the best weight for spin. Try different sized squares. Bigger and thinner are easier to fold.
The author, Paul Jackson, admits this model may not spin for as long as other paper dreidels, but he rightly asserts that this one has “a true dreidl shape.”

Video: I found a tutorial video (from Broadcasting Sunny) so I don’t have to make one and hear my own voice. Note that the instructor uses a full-length pencil as combo handle and spinning point, which is way too tall and top-heavy to make a decent spin. DO NOT USE A PENCIL. Try the matchstick idea above, a tooth pick, or a plastic coffee stirrer, trimmed. Or, if the hole is too big for these slim pickin’s, try a short pencil stub. Slide the dreidel up or down the stick to adjust the balance.

Troubleshooting: Honestly, what usually happens at a group folding event is that many kids will beg you to make the dreidels for them so they can play without folding. Resist.

Carnival station: Be sure to place several arenas on the table so kids can spin driedels without the things shooting off the edge of the table. Serving trays are fine. See my post about all sorts of instant dreidel arenas comprised of stuff you already have.

To be fair, the flat origami dreidel model is good too: as a carnival or party station it takes letters well, makes a great greeting card or garland, and is far simpler for young children to fold.

flat origami dreidels

flat origami dreidels (click for DIY link)

Origami Toys That Tumble, Fly and Spin, by Paul Jackson at Indiebound, and at Amazon.

Other DREIDELS at BibleBeltBalabusta:
Origami Dreidels (flat)
LEGO Dreidels, DIY
LEGO Dreidels, printable instructions for a simple model kit
K’Nex Dreidels
Edible Dreidels (two sizes)
Edible Dreidels that spin (caramel)
Tangram Dreidels (printable)
Dreidel arena ideas from stuff you already have
Glow in the Dark dreidel and glow arena DIY
Printable Dreidel Letter Meanings and Game Rules to post at parties




One response to “Spinning Origami Dreidel

  1. Dr. Ryda D. Rose, Professor Emerita/EDUCATION ... U. of PA.

    See how ORIGAMI with its Math and Science components, now Religious Holiday applications comes in handy! Always knew it! Carry on!!