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The Anywhere Anytime Activity

Painting and paper-craft is the obvious creative activity we teach our children - both at home and school, and even indulge in it ourselves, as adults. These activities require its own set of paraphernalia; therefore one needs to plan it a little bit. But there is another lesser-known activity, which can be done anywhere, anytime and is highly creative. That is Origami, the Japanese art and craft of paper-folding.

Origami is one of the oldest arts of paper-folding; as ancient as the art of paper-making itself. Over the years, it has gained tremendous popularity worldwide, and devoted practitioners have innovated upon it and taken it to giddying heights. As kids, many of us must have made paper planes and darts and flung them gleefully in the classrooms, but most of us also stopped there. From the basic airplane and crane (the bird) to more complex designs like the Christmas tree and fighter aircraft, Origami has made quantum leaps.

The best part about this art is that all it requires is a piece of paper - square or rectangle in shape. You can use just about any paper - newspaper, writing paper, photocopy or print paper - as long as it is not too thick. Gift wrapping papers, mailers from junk mail, advertising flyers or handbills, and paper-napkins in restaurants can also be put to good use in perfecting the craft. It is a great activity to kill time in the waiting room of a doctor's clinic or a hotel lobby or even in the car.

Of course, learning Origami calls for abundance of patience and time. The best way to do it is from books. Most Origami books come with step-by-step instructions illustrated through diagrams for guidance. Like knitting, you first need to know how to read the book and understand the symbols. Once that is done, it is not very difficult to follow. The first thing it teaches you is the basic fold. There are different kinds of standard folds, such as the valley fold, mountain fold, petal and rabbit fold.

As novices, you'll need to go by the book. You can start the children young; they'll enjoy folding paper repeatedly and it'll be a great exercise for their fine motor coordination skills. Once shapes start emerging, they'll be enthused to learn further. You can start from the basics, (which means less-complicated and lesser number of folds) like fish, butterfly, cat and dog and graduate to complex designs like rose and elephant (with tusks and all!).

To enthuse kids, there is 'Origami in Action' which is actually paper toys. These are planes that actually fly and animals like frogs that can jump. You can even make finger puppets of birds and animals with moving beaks or mouths.

Origami has an abiding association with Mathematics. The creases that form the anatomy of the folds are all geometric patterns. There are experiments being conducted by many teachers to teach concepts of Mathematics, Physics and even, Architecture through Origami.

Therefore, Origami has the unique distinction of being an art, a craft and a science!

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