Origami is the ancient Japanese art of paper folding. Today's tour includes hundreds of easy-to-learn models. You can start with regular printer paper, but as you progress you may be interested in buying a package of special origami paper, which is thinner, easier to crease, and available in many colors and prints.
With several dozen how-to videos and printable PDF instructions, Activity TV is a excellent origami resource. Projects are categorized as beginner, intermediate or expert, and are rated by thousands of viewers. Activities include a Penguin, Samurai Helmet, Inflatable Bunny, Dinosaur and a Frog. The printable instructions are not illustrated, however, and therefore do not really stand alone. They work well as a handout while watching the video, or a reminder of the steps after viewing the video.
"According to Japanese tradition, one way to pray for good health is by folding a thousand origami cranes." Published by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kids Web Japan introduces Japan to schoolchildren around the world. This section of the site includes instructions for thirteen origami models such as Dog, Cup, Piano, Balloon and Box. Click Next to visit the Download Center, where you'll find printable origami templates with fold marks, and colored printable origami paper.
Wow! What I love about the Origami Club is that the instructions are available both as a printable diagram and as an animation. And the animation can be sped up, or slowed down depending on your skill level. Other reasons to visit include their newspaper origami section, holiday collections (Halloween, Christmas and Valentine's Day), and their big page of fifty-one really easy origami models. Just one note of caution, this Japanese site, although written in English, uses A4 and B5 paper sizes, not the standard American 8.5" x 11".
Origami Fun is chock-full of projects rated by difficulty, available in printable PDF format and video, along with lots of origami tips. "Be patient. If you are just learning how to make origami, you have to realize that it is a contemplative and relaxed activity, that is, you can't go rushing through the instructions as fast as you can!" For the easiest models, look for those rated one or two pelicans, or go directly to the kids section. Sign up for the Origami Fun newsletter, and you'll get a sample copy of their Ultimate Origami e-book.
"Paper, of course, is mushed up plant material. Plants, as you know, grow through photosynthesis (energy from sunlight) so looking on the bright side, origami is like playing with sunlight." Derek Stancombe started folding paper when he was nine or ten, "mainly because he was asthmatic and ran out of breath when trying to play sport." His beautiful site features creative, animated shorts starring origami figures, and a selection of origami games, all built in Flash.