Origami is a popular art form in Japan that is now practiced by origami enthusiasts across the globe. Remember those tiny paper boats, airplanes, and paper fortune tellers you used to make as a child? These are all examples of origami, the literal translation of which is “to fold paper.”
If you have kids at home or are a teacher eager to find new ways to engage and entertain your students, you must try origami with them. Kids can make a variety of decorative pieces by simply folding a piece of paper. Plus, it is a totally mess-free activity and doesn’t require a big list of supplies (another reason to love this art form!).
So, let’s not wait any longer and jump straight to how origami can help children learn to make a cute origami butterfly in the sections below.
Benefits of origami for kids
Many people consider origami just another art form kids learn and practice in their free time. But the fact is that, along with the fun quotient, origami offers a number of educational benefits. Here’s what kids achieve by indulging in origami:
- They develop patience and concentration while they observe instructions carefully.
- It reduces stress and enhances their creative thinking, and problem-solving skills.
- They learn to perform their work with neatness and accuracy.
- They get to enjoy a fun activity involving eye-hand coordination.
- They build their memory as they try to remember the steps involved in making the origami.
- They get the opportunity to be involved in cooperative learning while trying to help each other with the craft.
- It helps their cognitive development as they create artistic paper sculptures with attention and detail.
- They improve their sequencing skills by following the correct sequence of steps to create the perfect origami.
- They develop math skills like symmetry and learn to work with geometric shapes like squares and triangles to form three-dimensional figures.
- They work on their fine motor skills, so origami can be used alongside manipulatives to refine these skills in children.
How to make a beautiful origami butterfly using a square piece of paper
Things you’ll need:
- Black marker
- Colorful origami paper (or square paper of any size)
- A pair of scissors (Disclaimer: Adult supervision is required as a pair of scissors is a sharp tool. Please be vigilant.)
Start by picking your favorite color of origami paper to make the butterfly. In case you don’t have origami paper, cut out a square piece of paper (any size you like) from your notebook or a newspaper and follow the steps below.
Your origami paper will have a colored side and a white side. Keep the white side up as you begin making the folds.
Hold the left end of the paper and fold it to make a crease in the middle. Open the fold to reveal the crease.
Now hold the top end of the paper and fold it all the way down to make another middle crease. Open the fold, and you will notice a plus sign being formed with the creases.
Fold the paper diagonally while holding the top right corner of the paper, and use your fingers to form a diagonal crease.
Again, open the paper and fold it diagonally, this time starting with the lower right corner of the paper. Press firmly to form the crease.
After all these folds, you will notice a set of creases on the paper, as shown in the image above. These will serve as a guide for making the upcoming folds of the butterfly.
Hold the paper on two sides where the horizontal crease ends and push the paper inward along the diagonal crease. Push it until it meets the lower vertical crease. Start with the left side of the paper and finish off with the right side.
When you spread the paper out, as shown in the image above, you will notice a triangle forming. Flatten the paper completely, aligning the layers one above the other, to obtain a triangle.
Hold the triangle and see if you can observe similar paper folds when viewed from the top and bottom. If the folds don’t look like this, you might want to give it another try.
In the next step, fold the triangle and make a small curved line using a black marker on one end of the triangle. Use it as a reference and cut it with a pair of scissors.
This is what the triangle will now look like. Open the triangle fold so the bigger triangle with curved corners shows up.
Fold the lower right and left corners of the triangle and make them meet at the center. Use your fingernails to make a solid crease that doesn’t open up.
After this fold, turn the triangle to see how it looks from the other side. It should be plain, with a vertical crease in the middle. That’s all.
For the next step, hold the triangle with the folded side up and notice the pointy end of the triangle at the top.
Hold the pointy end and fold the paper so that it reaches past the triangle’s base.
Make another small fold with the pointy end at the triangle’s base so that the fold stays put and does not open up. If it does, a little glue can help secure it in place.
Fold the butterfly in half and use your fingers to give it a nice shape. Press the butterfly’s head with your fingers and flatten the wings to give it a polished look.
And voila! Your origami butterfly is ready! Make as many colorful butterflies as you would like and display them at your favorite spot. It will surely catch the eyeballs!
[Credits: This origami butterfly was conceptualized and crafted by Ms. Hansika Jaitley.]
Use of origami in special education
Children with special needs and learning difficulties often do better with innovative ways of learning. Considering the benefits of origami, special educators and occupational therapists have now started using it to help kids with special needs.
Special needs kids and those with learning difficulties learn a very important lesson by practicing origami. And that is, one can always reverse their mistakes and start afresh. Preparing beautiful paper sculptures gives them immediate results for their efforts and elevates their self-esteem and confidence.
Since origami is a multi-sensory and hands-on activity involving listening, observing, and manipulating paper with hands, it has a positive impact on the cognitive development of students. Kids improve their cognitive skills in a stress-free and enjoyable manner.
The usefulness of origami in special education is also backed by several research studies. One study reports that origami can be used to enhance visual and mathematical thinking skills among autistic students. Furthermore, another one concludes that origami helps build fine motor skills and intellectual abilities in students with intellectual disabilities.
That’s a wrap!
Origami butterflies are a fun project to do with kids. In addition to providing educational value and serving as a useful tool in special education, it is a great art form to learn. You never know which child will become an expert origami artist in the future.
Though it may seem challenging at first, especially for younger children, kids do get better at making their favorite origami sculptures with practice, practice, and more practice. So, make this fun origami butterfly soon, and we promise a gala time for you and the kids!
- Sze, S. (n.d.). Effects of Origami Construction on Children with Disabilities. Institute of Education Sciences. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED490351.pdf
- Bakar, W. N. W., & Fauzi, F. Z. Y. (2019). Using Origami to Enhance Visual and Mathematical Thinking Skills among The Autistics. International Journal of Education, Psychology and Counseling, 4 (32), 72-78.
- Pradipta, R. F., & Dewantoro, D. A. (2019). Origami and Fine Motoric Ability of Intellectual Disability Students. International Journal of Innovation, Creativity and Change, 5(5). https://www.ijicc.net/images/vol5iss5/Part_2/55215_Pradipta_2020_E_R.pdf
I am Priyanka Sonkushre, a writer and blogger. I am the person behind “One Loving Mama,” a mom blog. Equipped with a Bachelor’s degree along with an MBA, my healthcare background helps me deeply understand learning difficulties. I know how challenging it can be for parents to find the right resources to help their children excel in life. So, here I am to blend my healthcare expertise with my parenting experience to create valuable and helpful resources for parents and teachers supporting children with learning differences. If you wish, you can follow me on Facebook and LinkedIn.