Easy Origami: Step-By-Step Instructions to Make Basic Origami Figures

Have you always wanted to learn origami, the art of paper folding, but didn't know where to begin? 

We have basic origami with step by step instructions to get you started in this ancient art form.  There is just a small number of basic origami folds, and these folds can be combined in many ways to make very intricate designs. 

And the most amazing thing is that these intricate designs begin with a simple square sheet of paper!

Origami paper or “kami” (the Japanese word for paper) is sold in prepackaged cut squares.  Usually one side of the paper is colored and the other side is white.  The colored or printed side can range from solid colors to a variety of patterns and designs.

For easy origami using simple folds like the ones used to make the boat or hat, normal copy paper will work just fine.  Be sure to cut it into a square first!

To make detailed origami, it is important to use the special origami paper that is less heavy than regular copy paper.  This thinner paper makes the tinier folds possible. 

Another type of paper to use is……..MONEY!!!  It’s popular to use money as the foundation for origami and is a great way to give money as a gift.  There is actually a name for origami from money; it is called Orikane!

Sadako and the Paper Crane

There are many sculptures that you can make using origami, but the most popular of all is the Japanese paper crane.

The paper crane is the origami figure in the famous and true story of a girl named Sadako Sasaki.  Sadako lived in Hiroshima, a city in Japan, when the atomic bomb was dropped there during WWII in 1945.  When Sadako was 11, she was diagnosed with leukemia which is a type of cancer that was caused by the atomic bomb.

There is a Japanese belief that if you fold 1000 paper cranes, your wish will come true. While Sadako was in the hospital being treated for the cancer, she started folding paper cranes. Her wish was that she would get well and that peace and healing would come to people in the world who were hurting.

She spent 14 months in the hospital and folded the cranes with any piece of paper she was able to get her hands on. Paper was scarce at the time, so she often used candy wrappers, paper from medicine bottles, and the paper that was used to wrap gifts that were given to her.

Sadako died on October 25, 1955 when she was 12 years old.  She had folded over 1300 paper cranes.

Sadako’s friends and classmates worked to raise money so that a memorial could be built to honor Sadako and the other atomic bomb victims.

In 1958, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial was finished with a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane. In 1990, in Seattle, Washington, USA, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Dr. Floyd Schmoe, built a life-size statue of Sadako.

The statue was unveiled on August 6, 1990, 45 years after the bombing of Hiroshima. The statue can be found in the Seattle Peace Park. 

Visitors bring paper cranes to set by or drape over the statue. Sadako will never be forgotten.  The paper crane is the most recognized piece of origami and is a symbol for peace.

You can learn how to fold a paper crane with our easy directions. Spread some peace and love!!!

Other Common Origami Shapes

When you are just beginning your origami journey, you will probably want to start with some basic shapes; paper hats, boats, airplanes, cootie catchers, jumping frogs, or an origami dog. 

Check out all of the links below that will help you find beginner origami step-by-step instructions. There are also great books listed that will help you get started and guide you as you make progress.

You could move on to the fun exploration of money origami!  This is a great way to pass the time waiting at a restaurant or an interesting trick to show your friends. 

Who doesn’t love to watch the mystery of money being folded into an amazing design?  And when you don’t have square origami paper on hand, you can almost certainly find a dollar bill!


To be honest the exact history of origami is under debate. Because paper degrades quickly, there are little to no artifacts that archaeologists and historians can use to determine where it originated or who invented it.

Most school textbooks report that paper itself was first invented in China by Ts’ai Lun in 105 AD.  So we can guess that if there was paper, there was paper folding!!  And it most likely began in China. 

However, many cultures used paper folding to some degree either in ceremonies or recreation. Origami is mostly regarded as a Japanese art.

In traditional Chinese funerals, there is the practice of burning folded paper that represents gold nuggets (yuanboa). 

It was during the Song Dynasty (905-1125 CE) that these paper representations began to be burned instead of the wood or clay replicas of the gold nuggets that had been used in the past. The “paper nuggets” are still used today.

In Japan, the earliest true reference to a paper model is dated in 1680 in a poem by Ihara Saikaku.  The poem mentions the ceremonial use of the folded butterfly design used during Shinto weddings. 

During the Edo period (1603-1867) of Japanese culture, folding was mostly ceremonial.  However, folding soon became more of a form of entertainment.  For example, there is evidence that a folded paper noshi (envelope) was often attached to gifts like a card would be today.

Currently, origami is being used in engineering applications!  You will find it in packaging, the medical use of stents to keep passageways in the body open, such as a heart stent, and car safety in folding airbags!

 Back to Origami Fun!

This page has many links to fantastic origami books that have many sculptures to create.  We also have links to pages with tutorials, videos, and directions to make specific origami shapes.

Take a look below and get started on this entertaining art!

Easy Origami: Step-By-Step Instructions to Make Basic Origami Figures

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  Easy Origami

Easy Origami #ad

A collection of 32 projects for novice origami hobbyists. by John Montroll - Paperback - Published 1992 Affiliate Link to Amazon

  The Joy of Origami

The Joy of Origami #ad

57 amazing models from classic to cool plus 100 sheets of paper. by Margaret Van Sicklen - Paperback - Published 2005 Affiliate Link to Amazon

Amazing Origami Boxes

Amazing Origami Boxes #ad

Beautiful, full-color photographs accompany step-by-step instructions and diagrams for a splendid variety of completely functional boxes. They range from conventional square and rectangular shapes to those in the form of a bird, a basket, a cat's head, a flower, and other shapes. by Tomoko Fuse - Paperback - Published 2018

Basic Paper Airplane

Basic Paper Airplane

Learn how to fold a basic paper airplane with this video or photo tutorial. By

Best Origami Butterfly Ever

Step by Step tutorial of a 3-D variation of the classic butterfly Go Origami

Blow-Up Origami Bunny PDF

Ideal as a fun Easter activity. Origami USA



Learn how to make an origami paper boat with our video or photo tutorial. By Staff

Bunny Face Origami

Bunny Face Origami

This video will show you how to make a cute origami bunny face. This is a fun, easy project which kids can make any time of the year but especially for Easter.



Making butterflies with paper is very simple to do with these three techniques. Confessions of an Over Worked Mom

Butterfly Origami

Print either a colorful monarch or pulelehua butterfly, fold and watch the butterfly fly. Tammy Yee

Crane Origami

Crane Origami

This video tutorial will show how to make an origami peace crane. Tim Rosanelli YouTuber

DNA Origami

Print and fold an origami DNA model Instructables

DNA Origami

Print and fold an origami DNA model National Human Genome Research Institute

Dog Printable Origami

This origami dog printable is easy enough for preschoolers. Just print the origami design. Activity Village

Dollar Origami Butterfly

Step-by-step origami instructions for folding a butterfly. Homemade Gifts Made Easy

Easter Bunny Basket

Easter Bunny Basket

Learn how to make these Easter Origami Bunny Baskets with this free tutorial. Gathering Beauty

Easy Lotus Flower - Video Tutorial

Make this very simple and easy lotus flower Ornella Origami

Easy Origami Lotus Flower

Make this easy origami lotus flower from one sheet of paper. Origami Guide

Easy Origami Rose

This beginner origami rose tutorial is perfect for beginners and kids. The Craftaholic Witch

Eeyore Origami Diagram

Do you like Winnie the Pooh? Fold an Eeyore with these instructions. This is an advanced origamist.

Flower Origami

Fold many different origami flowers: 5 & 8 Petal flowers, Dahlia, Cherry Blossom, Lily, Lotus, Rose and others. Origami Instructions

Fold an Easy Origami Butterfly in 3 Minutes

Fold an Easy Origami Butterfly in 3 Minutes

Simple way to fold an origami butterfly.

Four-Leaf Clover

Fold a paper four-leaf clover for St. Patrick's day with these free origami step-by-step instructions. Origami Instructions

How to make an Easy Origami Butterfly

Making an origami butterfly is simple and good for adults and kids. Gathering Beauty

How to make Origami Flowers

Several easy origami flower tutorials. Including Sunflower, Tulip & Iris Origami Way

Jumping Frog Origami Tutorial

Jumping Frog Origami Tutorial

Learn how to make an easy and quick jumping frog with paper.
These frogs are quick and easy to fold and are a fun activity for kids.

Ladybug Corner Bookmark

Ladybug Corner Bookmark

This blog by ConservaMom is an easy origami tutorial that will teach you step-by-step directions on how to make a ladybug corner bookmark. Conserva Mom

Ninja Star or Shuriken - Origami (Video)

Ninja Star or Shuriken - Origami (Video)

How to fold a paper Ninja Star. Tim Rosanelli YouTube Channel

Origami Basics

This page covers origami basics such as folds, bases and diagrams by

Origami Bento Bag

Origami Bento Bag

This tutorial will show you how to sew an origami tote bag with lining and boxed corners, in easy-to-follow steps. Hello Sewing

Origami Blow-Up Bunny Tutorial

Learn to make an origami blow-up bunny which you inflate by blowing air into a hole. Origami Resource Center

Origami Fold - Cupboard Fold

Here is a diagram and instruction for the cupboard fold. Jasper's Home Page

Origami Fold - Mountain Fold

What is a mountain fold? This site has a diagram with instructions. Jasper's Home Page

Origami Fold - Outside Reverse Fold

Instructions and diagram for outside reverse fold. Jasper's Home Page

Origami Fold - Prayer Fold

Diagrams and instructions for the above referenced origami fold. Jasper's Home Page

Origami Fold - Valley

What is a valley fold? This link has instructions and diagram. Jasper's Home Page

Origami Folds

Diagrams of the different types of origami folds. Print as a reference. Peter Budai

Origami Inflatable Rabbit

This cute inflatable rabbit will be fun during the Easter holiday. Origami Instructions

Origami Newspaper Pots

Origami Newspaper Pots

How to make newspaper seed starter pots. Tim Rosanelli YouTube Channel

Origami Paper Football

Learn how to make a paper football and goalpost so kids can play a version of table football. The Spruce Crafts

Origami Paper Tank

Origami Paper Tank

A step-by-step tutorial on how to fold an easy paper tank or origami tank. Origami folding is an excellent pastime for kids and can keep them entertained for hours. By Staff

Origami Symbols

An explanation of origami symbols used in diagrams. Peter Budai

Origami Thinking Cap

How to make a thinking cap by folding a sheet of newspaper. Professor Solomon

Paper Boat Origami

An easy to learn origami boat. Mathematische Basteleien

Paper Hat

Making paper hats was always a favorite with kids. This is an easy basic origami tutorial for making a hat. The Parent Site

Paper Wallet (Origami Wallet)

Paper Wallet (Origami Wallet)

How to make a super simple paper wallet.

Samurai Hat Origami

To make a Samurai hat wearable by a child, you'll need a piece of paper about the size of a piece of newspaper. Enchanted Learning

Simple Origami Heart

Simple Origami Heart

This tutorial will demonstrate how to fold a simple origami heart.

Star Wars Folded Flyers

Star Wars Folded Flyers

Make 30 Paper Starfighters
Six-Starfighter designs look as great as they fly because they're made from full-color custom-designed paper. With five copies of each design, kids can have a fleet of Y-wings and X-wings at their command.
This book is a great learning and activity resource which will keep kid's busy for hours.
Affiliate Link at Amazon

Swan Origami Tutorial

Swan Origami Tutorial

Learn how to fold an easy origami swan with step-by-step instructions with photos and YouTube video.

Throwing Star

This is the traditional origami throwing star. Learn how to make with the origami step-by-step instructions. Jasper's Home Page

Traditional Origami Hat

A basic origami tutorial for making a hat. Hans Bodlaender.

Whale (Origami)

A simple origami project for young kids. Crafty-Crafted

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