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How to Make a Cootie Catcher

How to Make a Cootie Catcher

Cootie Catchers, or paper fortune tellers, are fun origami crafts that have tons of different uses. These simple, free and easy-to-make fortune telling games can be found in just about every school yard in America. You can use any kind of paper or card stock to start: construction paper, poster board, cardboard etc. All you need is some paper and scissors and your imagination!

What is a Cootie Catcher?

A cootie catcher, also known as a paper fortune teller, is a simple origami craft that can be used for a variety of purposes. Cootie catchers are most commonly used as fortune tellers, but they can also be used for things like playing games, telling jokes, and more. All you need is some paper and scissors to make one!

Why Are they Called Cootie Catchers?

Back in the day, cooties were a terrible childhood fear that made kids avoid any contact with one another! Try asking an adult what a cootie is and you might get some surprising answers. The word “cooties” was once used to refer to body lice or head lice – a common ailment among children.

Even though cooties are no longer a common fear, the idea lives on in our traditional paper fortune tellers! Cootie catchers are still popular with most children and many adults throughout America. The best thing about these fun paper crafts is that they’re quick and easy to make.

Close up of hand in a paper fortune teller isolated on white background.

What’s the Difference Between a Cootie Catcher and a Fortune Teller?

The main difference between a cootie catcher and a fortune teller is that cootie catchers are typically used for playing games or telling jokes, while fortune tellers are used for telling fortunes.

Cootie catchers are also typically made out of paper, while fortune tellers can be made out of a variety of materials, including paper, cardboard, and cloth. Although Cootie Catchers are typically used for fun and games, fortune tellers can be used for telling fortunes.

Cootie Catchers Make Great Gifts!

One of the best things about cootie catchers is that they’re easy to personalize. You can use a variety of different colors and prints to create a unique design. Personalizing a cootie catcher is the perfect way to make it into an unforgettable gift.

What Are Some Other Names for Cootie Catchers?

Paper fortune tellers, or cootie catchers, have many different names. Some of the other names for this simple origami craft are:

  • Chatterbox
  • Salt Cellar
  • Whirlybird
  • Paku-Paku
  • Pac Man
Paper Fortune Teller close up

How to Fold a Paper Fortune Teller

Folding your paper fortune teller is pretty simple. First, download our free printable cootie catcher, and print it out. You can use plain printer paper or even cardstock. Whatever you prefer is absolutely fine.

No printer? No problem!

Another easy way to create your cootie catcher is to use a regular sheet of paper – any will do, even notebook paper.

Create a square by folding one of the top corners of the sheet of paper down until it reaches the opposite side, and the entire top of the paper is aligned with the side. Then, flatten the fold so that there is a perfect triangle.

There will be a small bit of paper along the bottom still left. You will need to remove this with scissors or by tearing it off carefully. Once removed, you can open the triangle, and you’ll have a perfect square.

Now, with either your handmade or printed cootie catcher, you can follow the directions below.

First, fold the paper into a triangle by going corner to corner, creasing along the middle. Then, do the opposite corners. Unfold, and you will see a large X made with your fold marks.

Take each corner and fold it inward so that the points all meet in the middle of the X. When all four corners are complete, you’ll have a smaller square of paper.

Flip the sheet of paper over carefully, keeping the folds in tact. Then, do the same on the other side, folding each corner into the center of the paper so that they meet in the middle of the X shaped creases.

Now fold the paper in half. You will find that the underneath has flaps where you can place your thumbs and fingers so that you can pull the cootie catcher apart and into its final form.

How to Play the Cootie Catcher Game

Keeping the cootie catcher closed, have the player choose one of the top four squares. Spelling out what they chose, open and close the cootie catcher, using a back and forth motion for each letter of the word they selected.

Once you’ve spelled it all out, have the player select one of the numbers visible inside of the cootie catcher. Open and close the cootie catcher the number of times corresponding to the number they chose.

Have them choose another number from the available options, and again go back and forth with the cootie catcher.

Finally, have them choose a number. This time, open the flap and read out their fortune that is underneath.

There are many variations to the game. On the top four squares, you can use colors, animals, planets, characters, or anything you fancy.

Inside can be jokes, numbers, letters, or anything else you want to include. For jokes, you can have the joke on the outer flap, with the punchline on the inside flap.

Some people like to split the inside flaps into two parts corresponding to the two numbers, while others simply put one fortune on the whole flap. This is up to you, but it means you will have either four or eight fortunes depending on how you choose to do it.

Printable Cootie Catcher

If you feel like you need a little help creating your cootie catcher, you can simple download this free printable. It will let you make your own paper fortune teller in any way you want, without having to worry about if you’re getting it right. It even comes with instructions.

Download your free printable cootie catcher here.

Whether you call it a cootie catcher or a paper fortune teller or something else entirely, these fun crafts are simple to make and give you hours of fun. Your kids will love them, and they are even great for parties. Give them a try and have fun coming up with different designs and themes. And most of all, enjoy yourself!