Last summer, I decided that I wanted to learn how to make a paper crane. At first, I tried to learn from a book, but my early attempts looked more like strange modern art sculptures than birds. After a few more (okay, a lot more) failed attempts, I changed my tactic and searched YouTube for an instructional video. Being able to watch the folds in process made all the difference, and I finally was able to create my own (nearly) perfect crane. You can find the video I used to learn how to make cranes here.
As part of the Japanese origami creation, scissors are not involved in the actual creation of the piece. Origami literally means “folding paper”, and the cranes are made out of repetitive folds of paper. If you’re having problems getting your folds to stick, try creasing them with the tip of your finger and pushing down hard. To avoid making a big mistake, make sure that all corners are lined up before making your creases. If all else fails, try a different thickness of paper or a larger sheet to make it easier.
It turns out that paper cranes aren’t just beautiful. Paper cranes are said to bring good luck and peace, and folding 1,000 will grant the folder a wish. One particularly poignant story of a young girl folding 1,000 paper cranes following the nuclear attacks of World War II is detailed in the young adult book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.
After making my first crane, I caught the origami bug. To justify the plethora of cranes I soon had laying around my room, I decided to do something with them. Etsy yielded the solution. I found beautiful origami crane mobiles, and with three toddler birthdays rapidly approaching, I decided to put my cranes to good use. At a local craft store, I bought wooden dowels, ribbon, and cotton thread. You can use whatever design you want when making the mobile structure. For an easy firs time, try just making an “X” with the dowels and securing them together. Then, you can string cranes off the dowels, making sure to balance them out using different lengths of string or different positions. As an easy cheat to help balance, try placing something small that has some weight into a fold of the crane, which will help if you can’t find the exact balance. To thread the cranes, use a large sewing needle to pull the cotton thread through the center body of the crane. You can use ribbon to make the mobile more festive, and lots of colors of cranes to make it visually exciting.
This is a great project to help kids with geometry, spatial understandings, balance, understanding foreign cultures, and creativity. What are some other ideas you can think of for extra cranes?