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How to Make a Cootie Catcher | Free Printable

Remember running from the boys with “cooties” on the playground when you were a kid? Yep, today we’re talking Cootie Catchers, otherwise known as Fortune Tellers or Chatter Boxes.

Oh wait, is a Cootie Catcher…just a paper Fortune Teller? Yep. They’re the same thing! A cootie catcher is a paper toy — they make great puppets — while a fortune teller has, you know, fortunes inside them!

paper cootie catcher toy with a face

Why is it Called a Cootie Catcher anyway??

Before we start, I have to say the kids I knew growing up didn’t use paper cootie catchers. I do remember running from boys on the playground for fear of catching their cooties — but being 80’s kids we simply “inoculated” our friends with an imaginary “cootie shot”.

Remember those? “Circle, circle! Dot, dot! Now you’ve got your cootie shot!” This chant was recited as you poked your friend’s arm with your finger. Kids are so weird.

kid in plaid dress pretending to be a doctor

And yes, I checked with my 12-year-old and cooties are definitely still a thing in grade school. They probably have an app for that now…

How Do You Use a Paper Cootie Catcher?

Anywho…according to “the internet” there were playgrounds where imaginary cooties were taken way more seriously. An “infected” girl would need her friend to fold a special cootie catcher from paper and use it to remove the offending “boy cooties”.

I can’t imagine boys going to this kind of trouble.

When used to remove imaginary cooties, the paper toy would be used like a pincher to catch and remove boy germs. I’m sure they drew little bugs inside to prove that the offending cooties were removed. Ewww gross!

Decorate your Cootie Catcher Puppet

I like making a cootie catcher PUPPET. Start with a colorful piece of paper, fold the catcher (directions below) then UNFOLD the paper. Now add a face!

paper cootie catcher puppet shown folded and unfolded

When you unfold the paper, you’ll see that you created a 8×8 grid. The eyes go in the top upper corners, while the mouth goes in the middle OUTSIDE squares.

The lower bottom corners will form the bottom of the face — if you round off these corners you’ll form a neat chin!

If you want to make your cootie puppet more buglike, add antenna by taping/gluing strips of paper to the back of the upper outside corners.

Cootie catcher unfolded with a grid drawn over it.
How to Fold a Paper Cootie Catch

How to Fold a Paper Cootie Catch

Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Cootie catchers are silly origami paper puppets. How will you decorate your cootie catcher?


  • Colorful Construction Paper
  • Crayons or markers


  • Scissors


  1. Start with a sheet construction paper.
  2. Cut the paper into a square.
  3. Fold the paper into fourths.
  4. UNFOLD the paper.
  5. Fold over the four corners, evenly into the middle.
  6. Fold into fourths again.
  7. Flip over the paper.
  8. Fold over the corners on the new side of the paper.
  9. Fold into fourths one last time.
  10. Open the cootie catcher flat and decorate!
  11. Fit your fingers into the slits and open.


Cootie Catchers are similar to Fortune Tellers -- filled with your own custom fortunes.

The 90s are calling and they want your kids to come over! Show them an awesome paper craft inspired by your childhood with this paper cootie catcher puppet!
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