Have you ever read “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes”? If you haven’t, I urge you to check it out, for it is a wonderful book. There are a lot of elements going on in this book, but the one I wanted to focus on is about how a young girl with leukemia used origami paper cranes to help her through her battle with cancer. In the story, Sadako is told by her friend that if she folds a thousand paper cranes she will have a wish granted. Sadako then spends her time in the hospital trying to fold enough for her wish of getting better to come true.
What I want to focus on in this post is how folding paper cranes can be therapeutic. First off, when you fold origami, you are creating something, just like any other art form, therefore creativity is being used. In addition, folding a thousand cranes is a big project and is great for someone who is looking for a long-term activity that will last during a lengthy hospital stay. It’s also a great way for one to express oneself by decorating with the paper cranes. Making paper cranes can also have a meditative quality, similar to making a friendship bracelet. Finally, the act of folding the paper cranes helps develop fine motor skills. So, are you ready to learn how to make a paper crane?
The nice thing about origami is all you need is a square piece of paper and your hands. That’s it! So grab a piece of paper and follow along!
Step 1: Fold the paper into triangles with the colored side facing in, and then fold it like a hotdog with the colored side facing out.
Then using the creases you just made, fold the paper into a kite shape like so…
Step 2: Taking the two folds on the top, fold them towards each other into triangles again. Flip the paper over and do it to the other side. And it should look like this:
Step 3: Unfold the four folds you just made in Step 2 and invert them so that the folds are backwards and the triangles are now inside the middle of the paper:
Step 4: Now you should have a skinny diamond shape. Again fold the two top folds towards each other. Flip it over, and fold the other two top pieces over each other. You should now have a really skinny looking kite.
Step 5: The two bottom triangles can now be lifted up to meet at the top. These are the head and tail of the crane.
Step 6: Now take the wider triangles that were at the top and pull them down to create the wings! Choose which side is the head and then fold down the top slightly to create the head, and you’re done!
You can string the paper cranes together to create a chain that can hang. My favorite way of doing this is inserting the string right through the middle and letting them hang on top of one another. Another way to decorate with cranes is using them to create a picture. This requires lots of cranes of the solid colors you want to use. Here is an example of a picture kids created in Japan.
If you get really good, you can make them super tiny, just like Sadako! (I’ve found Starburst wrappers work really well.)
Origami Paper Cranes Activity Notes
Age: 8 years and up
Materials Needed: Square paper
Fine Motor Skills
Let me know how many you make! Also, if you need a better step-by-step, let me know and I’ll make a video how-to!