Friday, January 26, 2007

Paper Folding

Origami is the word for Japanese paper folding, but there is a (perhaps longer) tradition of paper folding in China. Some historians believe that it started not longer after Ts'ai Lun invented paper in China in A.D. 105. Many say both paper and paper folding were introduced to Japan in the late 6th century by Buddhist monks. Unfortunately, there are no records of Chinese paper folding, and the oldest Japan records are from 1797 (in the 18th century). Separately paperfolding originated in Spain (Arabs brought the secret of paper to them in the 12th century).Children can benefit from origami in many ways – the listening skills, sequencing, fine motor, attention, math skills (geometry, congruence, symmetry). Last year, I saw an article on about how it helps in using both sides of the brain. Whether you research it or not, Enjoy!

Classic Paper Crane:
Filmmaker, George Levenson won awards for his Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. You can see clips of that and of his companion video, How to Fold A Paper Crane at the Sadako Film Project. To complete a crane, read the full directions for how to fold a paper crane. I love his book, The Pumpkin Circle and think it fits in well with the Harvest theme of Mid-Autumn Festival.

Paperfolding for the Chinese Zodiac: The next "rat" year starts in 2008. Many of the directions are pdf files and require the use of Adobe Acrobat. The pictures are just that - with no folding instructions. The Japanese zodiac uses the same animals. I have heard but have not confirmed, that Mythological Creatures and the Chinese Zodiac in Origami by John Montroll has challenging directions to fold each of the characters of the Chinese zodiac.

Rat -Simple mouse, Great rat origami picture, Directions for a mouse, Picture of mice that I can not fold. Or select this mouse.

Ox - Cow picture, No directions

Tiger - Tiger picture, No directions

Rabbit - For the youngest, consider this origami rabbit face, or select one of Waterfordpress' origami rabbits. For the more dexterous, try these instructions for rabbits at or select the Thinkquest rabbit. Or look at Joseph's Wu's Rabbit for Chinese New Year (picture only). Some fold origami rabbits in school during Mid-Autumn Festival, although it is not traditionally done in China on that night.

Dragon - Dragons are generally harder to fold. My friend Lorna found some simple ones from Tammy Lee. One based on the fortune teller you probably learned in school and a basic dragon puppet. When you are ready, Marc Kirschenbaum’s Rearing Dragon (page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4, page 5, page 6) is a high intermediate dragon. This Eastern Dragon [PDF file of instructions] is a also high intermediate. Joseph Wu has done great multi-piece dragons including this Grand Dragon, and Stephen O'Hanlon has some wonderful dragons in his Fantasy Origami Gallery.

Snake - Ronald Koh and David Derudas have folded incredible cobras, but that is well beyond most of us! No directions to fold a snake yet.

Horse - Incredible folded Horse picture from Ronald Koh, Horse directions, *** Horse Directions, Seren's Horse picture. Or select this horse. Directions for this Front Flip Horse might only print on A4 (UK paper size) but you can still read them online.

Sheep/Ram/Goat - Not an easy goat, *** sheep

Monkey - Kirikomi Monkey - cuts are an essential part of making this model, No easy directions.

Rooster - Rooster picture, No directions.

Dog - For a simple origami dog face you need only a square of paper and a pencil or something to draw the face. You can also make it "talk". This dog's head uses a different approach. I also found an 8 minute video on folding an origami dog if you really want to see each step - or a quick review of them all starting around 7:50 into the clip.

There are some (easy but) harder dogs too. The "Patient dog" can be folded two different ways, one with a tail and one without. One might be easier for you to do than the other. To try this advanced dog you may also need to download the turkey instructions which is the base. Or try this, Stylized Dog.

Pig/Boar - Paperfold Pigs, pig's head, a picture of The World's Largest Origami Pig, ** pig, directions for a Freestanding Pig (not quite the wild boar fold that I adore).

Other Origami
Bubble Balloon Box


The Ransom Family said...

Hi Robin,

We are in Shanghai now with two little ones. I am a sahm too. I am looking for Sesame Street in Chinese right now. Wondering if you ever found it? or visit our blog


Robin said...

Sadly, no. I thought that China Sprout was in negotiation with CTW here in the USA for the right to sell it? I wonder if there is a USIS in Shanghai, and whether some of their staff might know someone who has some. (I can't imagine they would have bootleg copies in the library, but maybe they know someone with a personal copy that you could borrow.)
My official words on this are at

Anonymous said...

tres interessant, merci