Of course words can be made with anything, but one of the most approachable but elegant materials to work with is paper itself. Here are some examples that I think use the paper in a simple but elegant way.
Empo faceted type by Losiento
Alphabet relief by Tim Fishlock
Paper type by Yulia Brodskaya
Origami type by Robert Lang
Y and S by Jerome Corgier
The work above is by artist Bianca Chang. I find her use of form and light really interesting, and the detail of gradually building up the imagery is astounding. I also found a video of her process, included below. So although most students probably won't be this ambitious just to get one word (although they certainly could be) I think that looking at type that is dimensional and more than ink on a page is good inspiration to keep trying to push the boundaries.
The making of A from Bianca Chang on Vimeo.