Origami for Children
As far back as the mid 1800's it was discovered that origami was a delightful project for young children. Besides teaching eye hand coordination and developing concentration the child had a toy they had made themselves when they were finished. With practice a child of any age can even create a number of the more advanced figures.
For young children there is often the satisfaction of being able to fold a piece of paper into a figure that they aren't yet capable of drawing. Origami teaches children much more than just how to make cute toys. They learn dexterity, they learn to listen and follow directions. They learn creativity and perception and surprisingly they learn to relax. In a world where so much is rushed, sitting quietly and folding paper figures can bring a sense of balance and peace to even young children.
When doing origami with young children it is important to remember certain things:
1. Practice folding the figures you plan to teach them yourself so you can pick out the steps that may cause them problems.
2. Some figures may need to be slightly simplified for younger children. Maybe just leaving out the final finishing steps will help.
3. Have a light friendly workplace for the children and plenty of materials
4. Be sure to explain each fold in simple words, showing them (possibly on a large piece of paper) what they need to do each step of the way.
5. You want to be sure the children understand what they need to do and make sure you give them enough time to work it out themselves - don't jump in too quickly to help them.
6. Let them try to fix their own mistakes without too much assistance. Let them know they can "try again" as many times as they need.
7. Children enjoy the repetition and they need time and repetition to work things out
8. Praise, praise and more praise - if the figure is somewhat crooked or a little wrinkled, so what?
9. Let the child express what he thinks of his piece. Everyone has different taste and opinions as to what is nice.
10. Children and abstract forms don't always mix well. If it helps to let them color or paint faces on their animals - let them!
Some tips for beginners - pick a well lighted relaxing area to work in, start with simple figures and work your way up (some figures will have both simple and advanced instructions for the same animal). Don't use really good paper to start with and for true beginners one of the best pieces of advice is to start with a larger piece of paper than what is called for. Make your folds as sharp and precise as possible, press down on the center of the fold with one finger then run a finger from your other hand across the fold in both directions. You can give your piece a somewhat different look or create an entirely different piece just by making a fold in a slightly different place.