Origami: The Hobby of a Six-Year-Old
May 15, 2015
It started innocently enough. At church, no less.
Aaron's teacher showed him how to fold a paper airplane. He came home and made fifty of them.
The paper airplanes gradually transformed. He started making so many different kinds of airplanes (I grew up under the false impression that a paper airplane was just a paper airplane--wrong!) that he ended up studying the effect of the dihedral angle of wings for his science fair project.
From there, he went to origami. One day, he came home from school with a book of very easy projects, and he made them all in an hour.
I have pushed a lot of things on my kids (reading, piano, chores...), but this is a hobby I've done almost nothing to encourage. (After he'd been doing it for months, I finally bought him a pack of real origami paper, and that's been about the extent of it.)
It has been so fun to watch him discover something he really loves and pursue it all on his own. When we go to the library, he parks himself in the crafts section and pores over instruction books before deciding what he wants to bring home.
At home, he uses the coffee table as a workspace and can be found there most afternoons after school (I think it is a great de-stresser for him.) One of the things I've loved about origami is that, for the most part, he can teach himself through books and videos. Occasionally, he will ask for clarification on a step, but most of the time, he figures it out all on his own.
Two of his favorite books (found by him, not by me) have been Make Your Own Art: Origami and Not-Quite-So-Easy Origami. They have taught him how to make (among other things) a crane, bird, pinwheel, and fortune teller. (The fortune teller especially has brought back a lot of childhood memories for me. It's been so entertaining to see the fortunes Aaron comes up with: "You will have 100 people in your family." "You will be an amazing Lego Builder." Or, my personal favorite, "You will read 2600 minutes in one day.")
Although, like I said, I haven't done anything to cultivate Aaron's hobby, I have used it to my advantage. If you have a boy with origami skills, you might as well use them, I say.
My dad's 60th birthday was earlier this month, and since that's a bigger birthday than, say, 59, I wanted to do something special. I thought it would be nice if my siblings and I wrote sixty things about him that we love, but then I decided to extend the invitation to extended family and friends. After a few days, we had a great little collection of notes.
Growing up, my dad always made banners for us when it was our birthdays, so I thought it would be fun to make him a banner out of the sixty notes. At first, I was just going to cut out sixty hearts and write the notes directly onto them. But then I thought, Why not make sixty origami hearts and tuck each note into the pocket at the back of it? Then it would be like opening a little letter each time.
Turns out, sixty is a lot more than I realized, but I had just the boy for the job. Up to that point, he'd never made a heart (I guess six-year-old boys think ninja stars are more exciting than hearts), but he quickly learned, and then he just pumped them out. I kind of expected him to get bored after fifteen of them, but he didn't. Then Max wanted to help, and even though his folds weren't as sharp or as accurate as Aaron's, he did a great job. Together, they cranked them out in no time with very little effort on my part (although I admit to making a few hearts myself, just for the fun of it).
Then I punched holes in the side and strung them together. I printed off all the messages from family and friends, cut them apart, and tucked them into the little pockets on the hearts. By the time I was done, the banner was quite long. We stuffed the whole thing into an oversized envelope and shipped it off to Colorado where my dad opened it on his birthday and then spent the rest of the day unfolding the little notes and reading them.
This has been such a great hobby for Aaron. It's relatively mess-free (although if you saw his room stuffed with airplanes, cranes, and ninja stars, I think you'd disagree), quiet, and creative. Aaron has always loved math, and I think origami is great introduction to geometry with all its angles and shapes. It has taught me that sometimes my kids don't need me to come up with activities or interests for them. Sometimes what they come up with on their own is just perfect.