by Jackie Villegas
Origami, the ancient art of paper folding, is a great activity for kids. Even those as young as 4 years old can participate, given that you guide them step by step. Choose recognizable shapes such as boats and animals, and start with easy models.
An origami mobile is a simple but inspired addition to any child’s room. It adds color and whimsy, and teaches children to take pride in their handiwork.
Paper boats are probably the easiest origami shape you can create. Paper cranes can be tricky at first, but once you get the hang of making them, you’ll be making one a minute. Enlist the help of the kiddos in folding and stringing the origami and designing your origami mobile.
1. Get some paper and make your paper boats and/or cranes. Use different colors and patterns to produce interesting contrasts or use monochromatic colors for a more modern-looking mobile - it’s up to you. If you don’t know how to make origami, do a Google search and follow a video tutorial. If your children are old enough, they can do this part along with you.
2. Make a hole through the center of each origami piece using scissors or a cutter.
3. Once you have enough paper boats and cranes, you can start stringing them. Figure out how much string you need and how many paper boats or cranes will be on each length of string by placing your origami pieces in a line on the floor and measuring out lengths of string alongside them. Cut the string to the desired length.
4. Tie a knot on one end of the string to keep the origami pieces from falling off. Slide the other end through an origami piece until its underbelly rests on the knot. Tie another knot a few inches up and string another origami piece. Do this until you’ve strung the desired number of origami pieces on each length of string.
5. Tie the other end of the string onto the mobile base.
6. Repeat the process if you want to hang more than one strand.
7. When the mobile is complete, hang it from your wall or ceiling using nylon cord and wall hooks.
Use upcycled materials for the base. Branches, chopsticks, twigs, and dowel rods work great and give your mobile a rustic, natural look. If you want to get more creative, you can use some flexible wire and make a base that sets a theme for the mobile. Coil a length of copper wire or 18 gauge wire into the shape of a cloud and attach the strings of paper cranes onto it. You can even glue cotton or white tissue paper onto the cloud to make it look soft and fluffy. Or form a fish shape with the wire and tie the strings of paper boats onto it. Cut out fish shapes from your craft or origami paper, punch a small hole into the heads of each, and tie them to the ends of the strings for a fishing-themed mobile.