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in: Games & Tricks, Living

• Last updated: June 4, 2021

How to Make a Paper Fortune Teller

If you’re looking for a way to entertain kids without resorting to setting them in front of a screen, nothing does the job like a good old-fashioned paper fortune teller. Fortune tellers keep kids engaged for a substantial stretch of time, and they really get a hoot out of them. Making one is a great idea to keep in your metaphorical back pocket, whether you’re a dad hanging out with your kids, an uncle yukking it up with his nieces and nephews, or a just a dude visiting with his friend’s children.

You probably made fortune tellers when you were a kid. But if this bit of childhood know-how passed you by, or you’ve forgotten the steps since becoming an adult, follow the tutorial below:

Step 1: Make a Square Piece of Paper

Fold the top right corner to the left side of a standard piece of printer paper. Cut off the rectangle at the bottom.

You should be left with a perfectly square piece of paper with a crease from the top right corner to the bottom left corner. 

Step 2: Make an “X” in Your Paper

You should already have one crease going from one corner of your paper to the other. Make another crease from the two other opposing corners by folding the bottom left corner to the top right corner. 

When you’re done, you should have an “X” in your square piece of paper.

Step 3: Fold Corners to Center of Square

Fold the corners of your square paper so that they meet in the middle of your “X.” You should be left with a smaller square.

The end result.

Step 4: Flip Your Square Over; Fold the Corners to the Center

Flip your square over. Fold the corners to the center of the square. 

You now have an even smaller square. You should end up with something like this.

Step 5: Fold the Top to the Bottom, the Left to the Right

Now you have an even smaller square.

Step 6: Tuck Your Fingers Into the Four Openings 

Open the fortune teller back up to where the square flaps are facing up.

Put the thumb and forefinger of each hand into each of the four respective square sections and pinch your fingers together.

Bring the fingers of each hand together to form the fortune teller.

Step 7: Add Colors, Numbers, and Fortunes

Open your fortune teller back up and color each of the square flaps a different color. (Alternatively, you can just write out “blue,” “red,” etc.)

Turn the teller over and write numbers on each of the triangular sections.

Open up the triangular flaps and write fortunes on each of the triangular sections. I like to do a mix of good and bad ones; it makes it more fun. Having all good fortunes is boring. So for every “You will live in a mansion,” I’ll be sure to put in a “Your breath will smell like farts.”

How to Use a Paper Fortune Teller

Once you’ve written in your colors/numbers/fortunes, fold your teller back up and put your fingers back inside. Then use it on someone who wants their fortune told by following these steps:

  1. Ask someone to choose a color. Spell it out (R-E-D), and as you say each letter, open and close the fortune teller, alternating between right-left (the two sections on your left fingers go left; the two sections on your right fingers go right) and up-down (your left and right forefingers go up; your left and right thumbs go down). So for “red,” you would open and close the teller 3X (right-left; up-down; right-left).
  2. Ask the person to pick a number. Count it out loud. As you count, open and close the fortune teller as just described. So for the number eight, you would open and close the teller eight times.
  3. Ask them to pick another number. Lift the flap of that number to reveal their fortune. Read it: “Your breath will smell like farts.” The paper fortune teller has spoken.