Cootie Catcher Instructions: How to Make and Enjoy (Free Printable)

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These cootie catcher instructions make it easy to enjoy these fun hands-on activities.

Wondering what a cootie catcher (a.k.a. fortune teller, chatterbox, and more) is? And how you can use these folded paper for all sorts of fun?

Learn all about cootie catchers plus get step-by-step instructions with this free printable guide!

Why We Love Cootie Catchers!

Life with five boys is busy. There's always something to do, especially as homeschoolers. Chores. Errands. Soccer practices. School work.

And that's why I'm intentional about planning and preparing for fun activities for all of us to enjoy. I've discovered that fun activities help my boys and I thrive in our homeschool, work, and relationships.

Over the years, we've had a blast with a variety of simple fun activities like:

When I look back on all of that fantastic fun, I realize that we almost always enjoyed some type of cootie catcher or two. It's totally cool that such a simple, frugal thing can so easily boost fun times together!

I loved using cootie catchers when I was in grade school and even a little bit when older. And I think it's so cool that there are so many different ways to enjoy these types of origami fortune tellers that are popular today, too

Woman holding free printable cootie catcher instructions guide with color pencils and markers in background.

What is a Cootie Catcher? And Why is It Fun?

Maybe you're not familiar with a cootie catcher? No worries! You might know of this DIY paper toy by one of these names:

  • paper fortune teller
  • chatter box
  • salt cellar
  • origami fortune teller
  • bugcatcher
  • whirlybird
  • paku-paku

A cootie catcher is a folded paper craft that you use with your fingers. It's easy to make and can be enjoyed pretty much anywhere.

I've been asked many times how to make the cootie catchers that I share for learning fun. I hope that this tutorial and free printable cootie catcher instructions guide helps 😊

Woman holding free printable guide for cootie catcher instructions and an example.

Cootie Catcher Instructions: How to Easily Make

To make a cootie catcher, the only materials that you only need:

  • square piece of paper (plain or one with a printed theme or game)
  • scissors
  • drawing and coloring utensils, like pencils, pens, markers, or color pencils if making your own

There are hundreds of cute ideas and printable cootie catchers to pick from and have hours of fun. Choose your theme or idea and get started!

Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Cootie Catcher


Cut out cootie catcher.

The best shape for a cootie catcher is a perfect square.

If you're making your own, use a ruler. I suggest using an 8 ½" x 8 ½" size.

A printed cootie catcher should be cut along the borders to form a square.


Fold all 4 corners.

Each corner of the paper (or point) is to meet at the center of the paper.

You can use a ruler to determine where this point is and place a light mark in the center, if necessary.


Flip over and fold again.

Take the square with the 4 corners folded in and flip over.

Fold each of those 4 corners (points) into the center of that side.

You will end up with a smaller square.


Fold square in half.

Take your paper square and fold in half.

You will see the outside flaps where your fingers will go when cootie catcher is complete.

05 + 06

Unfold square. Then, fold in half the other way.

Unfold your paper square so all the inner flaps are facing you.

Fold the square in half the other way. For example, if you folded it in half along the horizontal before, you will now fold in half along the vertical.


Use flaps to gently push out and up.

Place your pointer (index) fingers in the flaps farthest away from you. Place your thumbs in the flaps closest to you.

Gently push the flaps out and up.

You should be able to move the cootie catcher up and out at this stage.

You now have your own cootie catcher!

Perhaps you're thinking: "Cool! Now what do I do with it?"

Well, that depends on your cootie catcher theme or idea 😉

Typically, the top flaps will have a word, picture, number, or other type of thing to pick. When the choice has been made, you then "move" your cootie catcher back and forth.

Using our free Patronus Picker as an example, you might pick "cauldron". Based on the number of letters in that word (8), you'd move the cootie catcher back and forth 8 times.

You would then pick a number - let's say 5. Now, you move the cootie catcher 5 times.

Again, pick a number - lets say 6. You would then unfold that flap to reveal that your Patronus is a wolf.

One of the best things about a cootie catcher is that you can use it again and again to get different combinations.

Woman holding free printable cootie catcher instructions guide with scissors and color pencils in background.

Creative Ideas for Enjoying Cootie Catchers

I encourage you to just take out a piece of plain paper (printer paper works well) and follow the instructions above (and on our free printable cootie catcher instructions guide).

It's so much fun to make your own origami craft for a cootie catcher game! You can customize it any way you'd like. A fun idea is to add different colors, stickers, doodles, numbers - really anything you want to enjoy with your kids.

You can also find pre-made printable cootie catcher templates that have super cool themes, like:

I think these simple DIY paper cootie catchers are perfect for:

  • a party (as an activity or goody bag favor)
  • road trips and travel
  • in the car (while running errands)
  • study tools (for example, customize with foreign language vocabulary or math problems and facts)
  • screen-free activities
Woman holding free printable cootie catcher instructions guide with scissors, markers, and color pencils.

Get Your Free Cootie Catcher Instructions Guide

High five! You're going to have so much frugal fun with your cootie catchers!

This free printable cootie catcher instructions guide includes 1 page.

You can most certainly print as many of these guides as you need for your personal use, family, or homeschool co-op. If you have a friend or co-worker who may like to join all this cootie catcher fun, I ask that you please share this post with them. Thanks so much for your cooperation!

To get this free printable guide on how to make a cootie catcher, subscribe to Rock Your Homeschool.

⭐️ You’ll receive an email with a PDF file plus a password to open the VIP Resource Library to all RYHS freebies. Email Amy at rockyourhomeschool@gmail.com if you have any problems!

Oh, and you’ll also get emails with ideas, resources, and encouragement to make life and learning fun 🙂

(Hey hey! Current RYHS members just need to access the VIP Resource Library page and enter the password in your welcome email.)

Get your FREE printable cootie catcher instructions guide by tapping HERE or on the image below.

Woman holding free printable cootie catcher instructions guide.

I hope that these cootie catcher instructions help you easily make and enjoy these fun activities. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments area at the bottom of this post.

Wishing you tons of interactive fun with your kids!

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