The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Origami Paper for Kids

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Origami, the ancient art of paper folding, is a wonderful hobby for kids that sparks creativity, focus, and imagination. Plus, it’s just plain fun! As any origami enthusiast knows, starting with quality folding paper is key to origami success and enjoyment. But with so many types of origami paper out there, how do you pick the right paper for your aspiring origami folder?

In this in-depth guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about choosing origami paper for kids of all ages. You’ll learn about paper weight, textures, sizes, colors, patterns, and special qualities to look for. We’ll also provide specific recommendations for high-quality, kid-friendly origami paper for beginners to advanced folders.

Whether your child is just starting out or has already mastered crane after crane, you’ll find lots of great tips for providing them with paper that makes folding a breeze. Let’s get started!

Why Origami is Good for Kids

Before we dive into origami paper specifics, let’s first talk about why origami is such a worthwhile activity for kids in the first place. Here are some of the great benefits and skills gained:

  • Enhances creativity – Origami requires thinking in new ways to create unique shapes and designs. Kids can also get creative decorating finished models.
  • Teaches focus – Following origami instructions requires patience, attention to detail, and concentration. These skills then improve focus for other tasks like homework.
  • Builds fine motor skills – All those intricate origami folds are great dexterity practice for little hands and fingers.
  • Improves spatial reasoning – Visualizing and manipulating abstract 3D shapes from 2D folding improves spatial skills.
  • Provides math and geometry practice – Origami uses principles like symmetry, angles, geometry, fractions and repetition.
  • Boosts self-esteem – Completing an origami model gives kids a great sense of mastery and achievement.

So in summary, origami provides loads of benefits beyond just fun! Now let’s look at how to choose paper that makes it engaging and successful.

Key Factors in Choosing Origami Paper

Not all paper is created equal when it comes to origami! Here are the key factors to consider when selecting origami paper for kids:

Weight

The thickness and weight of the paper makes a big difference in how easily it folds and how crisply the folds hold their shape. Consider these guidelines:

  • Lightweight (50-80 gsm): Best for younger kids ages 4-7 just learning origami. Thinner paper is more flexible and less frustrating for tiny hands still working on their fine motor skills. Simple models like hats come out best.
  • Medium Weight (80-100 gsm): Provides the best balance of foldability and ability to hold creases. Ideal for elementary school kids folding basics like boxes, animals, and airplanes.
  • Heavy Weight (100-150 gsm): Holds intricate folds and 3D shaping precision. Best for older kids folding complex figures or wet folding more organic shapes.

The takeaway: Start young beginners with lightweight origami paper and then transition to heavier weights as their fingers strengthen and models get more advanced.

Color

Color is not just decorative – it serves an important function in origami. Here’s how:

  • Colors help kids distinguish the different sides and faces of the paper while folding intricate steps.
  • Patterns or objects printed on just one side become a design element in the finished model.
  • Using different color sheets allows creating multi-colored origami sculptures.

Some options to consider:

  • Solid colors: Great starter choice allowing kids to easily see the folds.
  • Color on one side, white on the other: Even better, white background shows folds and color pops on the outside.
  • Multicolor packs: Allow using a variety of colors for decorating or adding detail.
  • Patterns/prints: Geometric or nature patterns are fun but avoid overly busy prints.

Size

Common origami paper sizes include:

  • 2.5 inch: For miniature models, wet folding, classroom settings
  • 3 inch: Well suited for simple beginner models, modular origami, and table decorations
  • 6 inch: Versatile standard size, perfect for simple to intermediate models
  • 8-10 inch: For larger or more complex models – great for older kids

Larger sheets can feel unwieldy for little hands starting out. A variety pack with multiple sizes lets kids play with different scales.

Shape

Square sheets are the origami norm, but consider playing with other shapes too:

  • Rectangles: Allow interesting horizon or landscape models
  • Circles: Add challenge and allow circular folding motifs
  • Triangles: Enable triangular folding techniques

Textures

Stick with smooth, crisp paper that allows creases to pop. Very textured papers make it hard to work intricate folds:

  • Foil or metallic: Adds flash but can crack if creased too much
  • Patterned prints: Okay if patterns aren’t too dense
  • Fabric: For simple shapes only as fabric resists sharp creases
  • Tissue: Advanced technique as very lightweight and prone to tearing

Top Origami Paper Recommendations by Age

Now that we’ve covered what makes for quality origami paper, let’s get specific with recommended papers for kids of different ages and skill levels.

Origami Paper for Ages 4-6

At this introductory stage, opt for user-friendly papers:

  • Montessori EcoPaper – 100% recycled, lightweight 75 gsm, colorful on one side and white on the other. 3 inch squares are a nice starter size.
  • Origami House Rainbow Stack Paper – This 85 gsm paper in vivid rainbow colors folds smoothly and holds creases. Bright colors on one side make for a colorful finished piece.
  • D configurable-guides – These sheets have printed guidelines on one side to aid beginning folders. Remove when the child is more comfortable folding without guides.

Origami Paper for Ages 7-9

Kids this age can handle folding more complex shapes. Choose paper that allows for versatility:

  • Origami-Shop Paper Variety Pack – Quality lightweight paper in an assortment of colors, patterns, sizes, and shapes like squares and rectangles. Fosters creativity.
  • Origami House Patterned Paper – Fun patterns like polka dots, stripes, and swirls. The 100 gsm thickness holds creases nicely. 6 inch size suitable for more models.
  • Crepe Streamers – These colorful fringed crepe paper sheets make fun decorative origami for parties or holidays. Not for complex folding.

Origami Paper for Ages 10-12

Older kids have the dexterity for trickier models requiring sturdier paper:

  • Carter Paper Big Origami Sheet – These large 8.5 inch squares of heavy 150 gsm paper enable complex figures like dragons or dinosaurs. Lots of brilliant colors.
  • Purple Lady Butterfly Pattern – A dazzling favorite, this medium-heavy paper really holds creases. Perfect for creative decorative models as gifts.
  • Origami Studio Double-Sided Paper – Sheets with small-scale Japanese prints on one side and solid colors on the reverse. Lovely for display.

Origami Paper for Ages 13+

For sophisticated folders ready for a challenge try:

  • Origamido Origami Paper Sampler – This pro-quality paper pack includes a guide book taking experienced folders to the next level.
  • Tuttle Origami Paper 500 Sheets – This top seller provides thin, colorful paper allowing advanced techniques like wet-folding.
  • Lokta Origami Paper – Handmade from Nepal, this extremely fine yet strong paper is a joy to fold. Expensive but worthwhile for artists.

Handy Tips for Buying Origami Paper

To sum up key shopping tips:

  • Seek out paper made specifically for origami versus scrapbooking or printer paper.
  • Start with small, inexpensive packs before investing in bulk.
  • Coordinating colors allow themed models, while variety packs offer spontaneity.
  • For beginners, go for thicker and easier folding at first before graduating to thin.
  • Consider printed crease-line guides to help new folders learn the ropes.
  • Acid-free archival paper is best for important keepsake models.
  • Pay a little more for quality vs flimsy cheap paper that tears in frustration.
  • Portable pocket-sized packs are great for origami on the go.
  • Use foil or fabric paper for eye-catching displays, but avoid for complex models.
  • Add decorative extras like marker pens, googly eyes and glue dots to personalize models.
  • Store unused paper properly to avoid moisture damage, wrinkles, and sticking.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best origami paper for beginners?

For first-timers, choose paper that’s easy to fold like a medium weight, vibrant solid color paper around 90-100 gsm. 3-5 inch squares work well. Color on one side and white on the reverse aids visibility of folds.

At what age can kids start origami?

As young as age 3-4, preschoolers can learn basic origami folds to make simple shapes like cups or hats. Around 5-6 years, more complex models become possible as fine motor skills develop. Older elementary age kids can progress to folding intricate models.

Is origami hard for kids?

Some kids will pick up origami quickly, while others find it more challenging. Making that first fold can be the hardest part! Using clear diagrams or videos and starting with easy models helps ensure success. Taking it slowly and letting kids work at their own pace is key.

Should I use origami paper or printer paper?

Specialty origami paper works best for beginner folders. It’s designed specifically for folding with the right thickness, colors/patterns, and sizing. Standard printer or copy paper is too thin and prone to tearing, making projects frustrating.

How can I make origami paper at home?

To DIY origami paper, use high-quality drawing paper, cut stiff paper bags, or old magazines cut into squares. Coloring on one side adds that color dimension kids love. Lightly scoring fold lines with a ruler and ballpoint pen can aid beginners before they get the hang of free folding.

Start Folding Today!

We’ve covered a lot of ground on choosing origami paper for every age and skill level. The right paper can make the difference between origami success and frustration! Look for papers with vibrant colors, suitable weight and thickness, sizes to match your child’s dexterity, and quality that will fold smoothly and hold creases.

Equipped with this paper know-how, you’re ready to get folding. Gather some quality papers and try creating some origami magic together as a family. Your kids will love developing their skills as they progress from simple starters to intricate art.

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