Origami, the ancient and traditional Japanese art of folding paper, has been traced back to the 6th century, and its benefits are still relevant today. Personally, I love the way it provides an activity for my kids and I to do together, that doesn’t include a screen (unless you need to look up a how-to video 😉). There are so many types of origami figures to create and they range in difficulty level from beginner (that’s me!) to intermediate (my kids) to expert. Have you seen some of the amazing origami artwork out there? Bonus: I love that we can all find something we are capable of doing that makes us feel proud of what we accomplished no matter the skill level. The best part about it? Not only do we benefit in spending time together, it is good for our brains.
A small pack of origami paper is a perfectly portable, inexpensive, and mess free tool to have on hand for keeping little hands and minds occupied. Heck, you can even use the kids’ menu at a restaurant or scraps of paper from your purse! Lately, our family has been mindful of not automatically turning to our phones to occupy idle time. We almost always take markers and paper to restaurants or when we travel. But it didn’t occur to me to use origami until I recently read about an “fidget spinner.” Several traditional techniques create a paper version of the popular toy. (Our team at Faber-Castell put together a few for making your own origami fidget spinners).
Think of origami as exercise for your brain! It requires hand-eye coordination, develops fine-motor skills and supports mental concentration – all of which stimulate the brain. When kids follow instructions through the paper-folding challenges, both the motor and visual areas of their brain are activated. Bonus: They get to use both left and right hemispheres of their brain at the same time. It is logic plus creativity!! This is essential for proper development. Not only does it stimulate our minds, it builds imagination and memory. Keep in mind (haha), in addition to these great benefits for our brains, IT IS FUN!
I noticed that when my kids and I are making origami shapes, we are all very calm and happy. (I love moments when no one is bickering!) It turns out that when your hands are engaged in the process of folding the paper, there are impulses being sent to your brain and, in turn, it releases serotonin. Serotonin influences mood and helps us feel happy and calm. Furthermore, recent research indicates that it helps kids increase their overall levels of attention, which my kids (and I) definitely need.
If you find that your kids are struggling with mathematics, origami is a great way to get them excited about fractions, geometric construction, 3D perception, logical thinking and problem solving. The basic concepts of folding paper are founded in mathematical concepts, spatial reasoning and problem solving. Did you know that researchers have found that students who have done origami have better math skills than their peers?!
In conclusion, my takeaway is that origami is FUN for all ages and abilities, and it also has lots of well-researched benefits that you would never think about while creating fun and unique shapes. In this world of instant gratification and screens, I love working on origami shapes with my kids. And, the best part, it is insanely easy to fit it into our daily routine and reap the benefits!
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