A staple of the elementary school playground, the cootie catcher's predictive powers are generally regarded as being surpassed only by that of the Magic 8 Ball.

how to make a cootie catcher

Take an 8 1/2 by 11 piece of paper. Set it down in front of you like you're going to write on it, long-side vertical.
1.) Take the upper right corner in your fingers and bring it down to the left side (feel free to reverse left and right, should the whim strike you) so that the top side is now in line with left side. Make a crease.
2.) Now do the opposite- take the upper left corner and bring it down to the right side- it should meet at the horizontal fold from step 1. Make a crease. You should now have something that looks like a kid's drawing of a house.
3.) Cut off the flap at the bottom.
4.) Unfold the paper. It should now be a square with diagonal creases meeting in the center.
5.) Fold in all four corners so that they meet in the center. This should leave you with a smaller square.
6.) Flip the square over and repeat, folding in each corner so they meet in the center, leaving you with an even smaller square.
7.) Flip it over again and put your fingers inside the flaps, fleshing it out into a genuine cootie catcher!

what to DO with your cootie catcher

The cootie catcher has, theoretically, two uses. The first, for which it is named, is a trick in which you open the cootie catcher one way and pepper it with dots. Approaching the intended victim, you open the cootie catcher to the "clean" side and announce that you must perform a cootie inspection. Running the cootie catcher through the victim's hair, you now reveal the side that you peppered with dots and announce that you've found -gasp- cooties! Of course, you were kind enough to catch them and now shake them out of the catcher, revealing the "clean" side to demonstrate that they're gone.

I have never seen this done. The more highly evolved use of the cootie catcher is as a scrying device. For this purpose, the cootie catcher must undergo further preparation:

1.) With the cootie catcher closed, number the eight outside surfaces.
2.) Open it one way, exposing four surfaces. Name these with any convention you like- colors are traditional but by no means required.
3.) Open it the other way and name the remaining four internal surfaces. The can follow the same convention as the first four or they can have their own.
4.) Unfold the internal flaps one at a time and inscribe each with two fortunes such that one fortune is written on the underside of the flap to correspond with each of the names from step 3.

You now have a powerful tool for predicting the future and mocking your friends (who can say which is the greater purpose?). To use it, have the supplicant pick a number from one to eight, corresponding to the numbers on the outside of the cootie catcher. You then open the catcher in alternating directions, counting the number you have been given. The seeker of wisdom then picks a color (or whatever convention you have chosen) and the corresponding flap in unfolded, revealing their fortune. Alternately, you can prolong the process by counting out the letters of their color choice and only then having them pick their fortune.

Use it wisely. Use it for good. Use it to give your friends silly and embarrassing fortunes.

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