What do you know about origami? If you’re like most of us mamas, the answer is probably “not much.” What else is there to know other than the fact that easy origami for kids is a fun activity that keeps our little ones’ hands and constantly expanding brains occupied for hours on end? Well, as it turns out, there’s really a lot to learn about this ancient art of paper folding.
While most people attribute origami to Japan, it’s worth noting that origami wouldn’t exist without China‘s 105 A.D. invention of paper. From there, it took a few centuries more before paper came to Japan, where origami became customary. The word “origami” is actually a conjunction of two Japanese words: “Oru,” meaning “to fold,” and “Kami,” meaning “paper.” Despite its current prevalence, paper was once a scarcity. As such, it wasn’t exactly handed over to kids “just for fun” like it is now. Instead, the handmade paper and accompanying folding techniques were saved for special occasions… most often those of a religious nature. As paper became more readily available (and thus less expensive), origami became more popular among the masses and eventually spread across the globe. It’s worth noting that there was a similar, though unrelated, paper folding art happening in Europe around the 12th century.
Today, origami is more popular than ever. Bookstores and libraries have whole sections full of origami how-to books. Even more impressive, though, is how modern mathematicians have taken on what the Japanese and the Moors of Europe did with paper folding. They’re able to create origami shapes by testing out the math behind the creases before they ever touch a piece of origami paper. It’s truly remarkable, albeit not quite easy or kid-friendly. And, of course, like all things available to the general population, there are now video tutorials to walk aspiring paper-folders through making the absolute coolest and cutest origami creations.
It goes without saying that not all origami is easy, and it can certainly test younger kids’ (or frazzled mamas’) patience. Below you’ll find our favorite easy origami tutorials. Hopefully, it keeps your wild and crazy kiddo quiet for at least one Zoom call.
Easy Origami for Kids: Flowers
Everyone loves flowers — and paper flowers are quite a bit more sustainable than constantly picking wildflowers, right? Helping your kiddo learn to fold flowers will not only guarantee you a lifetime of pretty paper bouquets, but it will also come in handy at various holidays. Saaaaay… Valentine’s Day in the 8th grade? Shoot, some people even choose to use paper flowers for their wedding instead of the real thing.
1. Lotus Flower
2. Springtime Tulip
3. Traditional Cherry Blossom
Easy Origami for Kids: Animals
Some of the origami animals in this section aren’t exactly “tradition” origami shapes. On the other hand, one animal — the crane — might just be the most traditional origami creation. The crane has long held a special stance with the Japanese. It’s believed cranes once lived a thousand years. As such, spotting a crane is a sign of good fortune and a long, healthy life. Gifting someone with an origami crane might just be the ultimate show of love and respect.
Other animals the Japanese hold in high regard are dragons and tortoises. There are great origami tutorials on those, too, we just didn’t think they were as easy to follow for beginners.
4. Symbolic Crane
5. Bouncing Bunny
6. Dainty Butterfly
7. Sly Fox
8. Swishy Fish
Other Cool and Easy Origami for Kids
Of course, the art of origami isn’t just limited to things found in nature. Some of the most popular origami folds are ones that serve multiple purposes, like the options listed below.
9. Floating Boat
Yes, it actually floats! Of course, it’s paper and won’t last forever. But this classic origami design is a kid favorite. You could try experimenting with different types of paper (or paper-like materials) to see which floats the longest or fastest.
10. Valentine’s Heart
This heart is the perfect way to fold a note to your crush or bestie. On the outside, it looks like a simple origami heart but the inside contains all your secrets.
11. Secret Note
The secret note creation is fun to fold but even more fun to pop open. While it will be immediately obvious to seasoned teachers that there’s a note inside, the small shape makes it easy to conceal. Plus, it’s just fun to decorate the outside.
12. Keepsake Box
What do you do with a tiny paper box? Well, it’s perfect to stash shells, tiny flowers, rings, and other small “doo-dads.” Once they’ve created the box, you could even help them cut out pictures from magazines to glue to the outside and customize it.
13. Blow-up Balloon
Raise your hand if you had an amazing elementary school art teacher who could make these! This is pure nostalgia for us, but your child will love being able to create something they can “blow up” and then pop.