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Origami, the Japanese art of folding paper into attractive shapes, can be a great learning experience for your child. We explain the concept with some interesting do-it-yourself activities.
"The possibility of creation from paper is infinite."
- Akira Yoshizawa
In today's fast-moving world, keeping children engaged may not be a difficult task, but doing so in meaningful ways with limited materials certainly is. If you are looking for an art form that's easy, fun and creative, origami has to be your pick. First, let's understand what origami is and its origins.
While the exact origin of origami is unknown, it is widely believed that the art emerged in Japan around the 16th century. 'Origami' is a Japanese word, which stems from two smaller Japanese words: ori meaning to fold and kami meaning paper.
Most origami designs were passed on through generations via oral tradition. The first known book on origami is Senbazuru Orikata (Secret to Folding One-Thousand Cranes), published in 1797. Origami has now spread to different parts of the globe and is a very popular art among the young and the old alike.
In Japan, the crane is considered to be one of the holy creatures and is said to live for a 1000 years. The Japanese believe that anyone who folds a 1000 origami cranes (known as Senbazuru) will be granted a wish by the Gods. These 1000 cranes, to be held together by strings, are considered a symbol of happiness and good luck. It is a popular gift to people going through a rough phase in life, trying to recover from an illness, etc. Senbazuru has become popular around the world, thanks to Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who was exposed to atomic radiation from the Hiroshima bombing during World War II, when she was just two years old. As a result of the bombing, she developed leukaemia. At the age of 12, she started making origami cranes inspired by Senbazuru and hoped for recovery. Unfortunately, she passed away a few months later, in 1955. While some people believed her death was because she failed to complete her 1000 cranes, reliable records suggest that she did succeed in making 1000 cranes. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial has a statue of Sadako holding a crane, and every year on Obon day (a Japanese Buddhist custom), people leave cranes at the statue in memory of the departed spirits of their ancestors.
If you are wondering how folding a piece of square paper in different ways can be beneficial to your little one, be prepared to be surprised at the numerous skills this art can help build! In an interview to Psychology Today, a leading forum specialising in Psychology, Samuel Tsang, a London-based origami teacher and author of The Book of Mindful Origami, says origami is a peaceful hobby, a beautiful art, a craft, a science and meditation, all in one. Origami helps improve:
Origami might seem simple, but it requires a lot of patience and perseverance. Your child will keep trying till she gets the best possible result.
Though there are existing steps to create origami designs, the art form is not limited to those. A difference in a fold, a difference in the size and colours of the paper can give a magical twist to the work. And when your child uses origami designs to knit stories, his imagination and creativity will run wild.
Each fold in origami requires precision and therefore, your child's hand-eye coordination gets better with practice.
Every origami creation is different and requires different approaches and steps. So, your child has to concentrate and remember every fold and the order to get the right result.
Origami requires undivided attention, focus, listening, observational and executional skills, accuracy and neatness. Through origami, your child learns shapes, symmetry, colours, storytelling, puppetry, etc.
Origami is soothing and keeps your child's mind occupied, thus helping him manage stress better.
Here is a clipbook with a collection of book-titles, beginner-websites and videos that you can explore to get your child to dive deeper into origami.
Now, onto some fun! Introduce your child to the wide, wonderful world of origami. Here are some simple origami creations that you can try with your child. Introducing your little one to origami is easier at this age, when her brain is very active and when she can apply these learnings in small ways. Origami is also relatively hassle free, requiring very few materials. So, let's get started.
Appealing, right? Try it out. Origami is an art for all. When your child is at it, sneak in some fun for yourself too. Here's wishing you some happy origami moments!
About the author:
Written by Rashmi Nagendran on February 2020.
Rashmi Nagendran is a senior associate in the Parent Circle community management team.
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