The other day I was running a little virtual workshop on funny German animal names with my son's grade 1 class.

The German language is often very literal and productive when it comes to inventing new words by simply stringing two or more existing ones together. This is not only true for animal names but for many things including everyday objects such as vacuum cleaner which is simply called “dust sucker” (Staubsauger) or Zahnfleisch which literally means “tooth meat”. Logical, eh?

But the world of animals, seemed more interesting to 1st graders thah nousehold objects and bodyparts. And here German has a lot of funny combinations on offer:

  • Faultier - lazy animal (sloth)
  • Schildkröte – shield toad (tortoise)
  • Waschbär – wash bear (raccoon)
  • Nacktschnecke – naked snail (slug)
  • Fledermaus – flutter mouse (bat)
  • Seehund – sea dog (seal)
  • Stinktier – stink animal (skunk)
  • Flusspferd – river horse (hippo)
Image by: André Klein,

Now you may begin to wonder what this has to do with squid. Here's the connection: a squid in German is an "ink fish" (Tintenfisch) and after learning a few fun animal names in German we ended the short class making a simple "ink fish" our of paper (yes a skunk and a sloth seemed to hard to pull of in 7 minutes and with one sheet of paper, so squid it was). Showing a group of 6-year-olds how to do origami virtually is challenging (I learned it the hard way ;). So to make sure everyone was able to make a squid and turn off the screen happy and accoplished, Olin and I came up with a few very simple folds and just two sets of cuts (I know: cheating on the origami traditions... But we promise to return to the puritan rules when we can all craft in person again).

Here's the quick tutorial:

Take a quare piece of paper and fold it diagonally. Then unfold. 
Fold the sides to align with the middle fold you just created. This will create a shape looking like a kite (see next picture). 
Now you got a kite!
Now you make to short cuts folling the line of the sides folded in. The cuts should be halfway to the middle at max.
Now you fold the corners where you made the two cuts (here you can choose whether you want a more rounded or straight look, just play with the angle of the fold). 
Now fold the top down a wee bit to round out the head. 
Make some vertial cuts from the bottom up. You can follow the fold from the very start and add a few parallel lines (these will be the squid's arms. If you want to be correct make it 8...but we mostly didn't care). Almost done...
Twist the squid's arms and add some eyes. Done. And now make a whole