Origami Is Fun and Beneficial for Kids

Origami is a traditional Japanese art form that involves the folding of paper into interesting shapes. It began as an art that only the most wealthy individuals could practice because paper was so expensive. However, as paper became more affordable, people of all socioeconomic levels were able to enjoy the craft.

The word origami comes from the Japanese word, ori, which means folding, and kami, which means paper. It was developed in the early 17th century and became popular worldwide in the mid 1900s. Origami isn’t just for artists though. With the goal of transforming a sheet of paper into a sculpture using folding and molding techniques, virtually anyone can create an origami sculpture. In fact, origami is a popular craft that children enjoy; and it is also a respected teaching and therapeutic tool.

Origami & Learning

Children can benefit greatly from learning and practicing the art of origami. In addition to learning to read and follow directions, origami also helps to enhance small motor skills and hand-to-eye coordination. Because both hands and the whole brain are involved in creating origami, researchers have also found that the language section of the brain is stimulated.

Developmental benefits are not the only positives that come from a child’s involvement in origami. Children also get hands-on experience with spatial relationships, reading for understanding, mathematics, and sequencing.

Teachers use origami to reinforce a variety of mathematical concepts because the action of transforming a flat piece of paper into a three-dimensional model is a great way to engage children and allow them to learn certain skills and concepts while having fun. Some of the more difficult concepts that children can master through origami, include:

• Identifying geometric shapes

• Understanding symmetry

• Understanding fractions and proportions

• Visualizing angles

Math is not the only subject matter for which teachers use origami as a teaching aide. Science and social studies lessons also benefit from the use of this ancient art. In addition, educators have found that origami is helpful in creating multi-cultural awareness and to introduce children to creative writing, literature and poetry.

Emotional Benefits of Origami for Children

Therapists have discovered that employing the coordinated effort of using both hands to fold origami not only helps to develop a child’s motor skills, but it can also positively impact memory, the processes used in imagination, overall attention span, and self esteem. Origami is also a good way for many children to work through feelings of stress and anxiety. The process of creating a sculpture requires a child to concentrate on the project rather than thinking about the things that are causing him or her to have stressful feelings.

Origami with Children at Home

In its simplest form, origami requires nothing more than a single sheet of paper. This makes it a fantastic activity for parents and children to do together. There’s no expensive or potentially dangerous equipment involved and it allows parents to enjoy a fun activity and interact with their children with limited preparation or planning.

Origami is also an activity that children can do on their own, which makes it a terrific boredom buster. It is entertaining, takes time, and children enjoy the accomplishment they feel from completing a sculpture and being able to share that accomplishment with their parents, relatives and friends.

Children as young as four years of age are able to fold paper; and with an adult alongside them they can create simple origami designs. By the time children are about eight years old they generally have the ability to read and follow origami instructions independently. However, they may need help with some of the more challenging steps.

While the most famous origami sculpture is probably the crane, children can create a wide variety of other sculptures that are fun and engaging. There are plenty of origami models that are simple enough for beginners to master. Models become increasingly complex and challenging, allowing the craft to continue to be an enjoyable and engaging pastime.