Pop-up Cards

Using a variety of tools and materials, children explore two- and three-dimensional shapes to create cards that pop! This activity helps children develop flexible thinking skills.

Materials Required

  • Paper (plain, colorful, patterned, or metallic)
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Markers or crayons
  • Washi tape (optional)
  • Rubber stamps and ink pad (optional)
  • Heat gun (optional)
  • Embossing pad (optional)


1. Design and create a pop-up card! Follow a template (like the one below) or experiment with folds, cuts, and tools to create a personalized template. (Click here to download a template.)


2. If using a template, print it out and use scissors to cut on the bolded lines, and fold on the dotted lines. For a personalized template, experiment with scraps of paper by folding and cutting in different ways. What cuts and folds make a shape pop out? Is it possible to create a shape that spins? Design until you land on a template.

3. Using the template design, pick out the paper for the final version and cut and fold following the design. Cut out and glue on any shapes to add to the pop-up.

4. Finally, decorate the card with markers, washi tape, or stamps to add some flare. Don’t forget to add a message! Try to incorporate two-dimensional shapes (circles, squares, and triangles) to play off the three-dimensional shapes (pop-up prisms, pyramids, and spirals).

Additional Tips

Try these add-on activities:

  • Use embossing tools to add some dimension to the cards. Adult supervision is required for these tools because they get hot!

Links to Creativity

As children search for materials to create pop-up cards, the discovery of “just the right piece” can occur through blind variation and selective retention. In other words, creativity often requires that we look broadly and without judgment, and after some time generating ideas we can then evaluate what is our best idea for a solution.

Supporting research includes:

Amabile, T. M., Goldfarb, P., & Brackfleld, S. C. (1990). Social influences on creativity: Evaluation, coaction, and surveillance. Creativity Research Journal,3(1), 6-21.

Baer, J. (1998). The case for domain specificity of creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 11(2), 173-177.

Campbell, D. T. (1960). Blind variation and selective retentions in creative thought as in other knowledge processes. Psychological Review, 67(6), 380-400.

Hennessey, B. A. (1994). The consensual assessment technique: An examination of the relationship between ratings of product and process creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 7(2), 193-208.

Simonton, D. K. (2011). Creativity and discovery as blind variation: Campbell's (1960) BVSR model after the half-century mark. Review of General Psychology, 15(2), 158-174.


This activity was contributed by the Bay Area Discovery Museum. For more information and resources see BayAreaDiscoveryMuseum.org ©2017 Bay Area Discovery Museum.