How Origami can benefit your body and mind!

Paper + Imagination = Origami

Many people will have done Origami in some form at school - whether it was just simply making paper planes, or perhaps making a chatterbox like this.

But if you think Origami is simply folding paper, then think again!

Origami can benefit your body and mind in so many ways. It is used in areas as broad as education, science, space technology and therapy. Even in your car - think of your car's safety airbag, all folded up neatly, using the principles of origami to keep it safe and ready to spring into action and unfold when needed!

Origami is a an art form, a creative outlet and a tool for learning that needs minimal supplies. But why is it so good for you?

Do the Maths
Origami can give kids a great introduction to many mathematical concepts. Transforming a flat piece of paper into a three dimensional object helps build spatial awareness and learn about geometry. When the paper is folded, shapes are seen - squares, triangles, rectangles and rhombuses. Fractions and symmetry are also experienced when the paper is folded in half and folds made on one side are repeated on another. Following the instructions to create something teaches sequencing skills.  Patterning can also be discovered and learned.
Children learn a lot through play, and playing with origami can let them discover all these mathematical concepts in a fun way, making them prepared for more formal maths lessons as they get older.

Body and mind working together

Origami uses both hands and both sides of your brain. Physically, the left side of  your brain controls the right side of your body and vice versa. The left side of your brain is the part used for logical, analytical and rational skills, whereas the right side of your brain is used for creativity and imagination. When practising Origami, we use elements from both sides of our brain and since brain is like a muscle, the more we use it the stronger it gets. In doing Origami, we are strengthening our whole brain.

 The manipulation of the paper also helps develop fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination. This is one reason that origami is often used in therapy and rehabilitation of people with hand injuries and also people who have suffered strokes.

Creativity unleashed
You have to get creative to turn a flat piece of paper into a three dimensional structure that resembles a real life object. To be able to imagine the resulting animal or whatever you are creating and to see its growth as you fold the paper stretches imagination and builds creativity. The more you fold, the more patterns you will begin to see and your creativity can take hold as you explore the endless possibilities.

Focus, Resilience and Problem Solving
Through origami, skills of concentration, attention, persistence and self evaluation can be developed. Origami gives you the opportunity to work through a problem, evaluate when things go wrong (this can be easily seen when mistakes are made in folding!) and have the persistence to keep going and work through the frustration of mistakes. 
These are more reasons that origami is used in therapy - particularly with things like ADD in kids and also depression and mental illnesses. There are many stories that can be found of people who have found help through Origami for their mental issues.

Try it for yourself

As you can see, the benefits of doing Origami are plentiful, and for kids it is a great opportunity to learn and develop a variety of skills in a fun way.

Origami can be practised alone or with others meaning it can be both a social activity or a solitary one, encouraging interaction with others, or self reflection and calming time.

So are you convinced that Origami is good for you?

Why not try it for yourself and encourage your kids to try.
There are plenty of websites with instructions for making all kinds of things. Here's one to get you started. Or scroll back up to the video at the top and try making a chatterbox.

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