While my parents were in town for Thanksgiving my dad made origami paper balloons for the kids. They loved them and wanted to learn how to fold paper balloons themselves.
I have fond memories of making the origami balloons with my dad growing up. I can still remember how to fold them, over twenty years since I first learned. My dad learned how to fold them “sometime between ages 6 and 10 years old,” and he still regularly makes the balloons for his grandkids and lucky patients. 🙂
Since he has been folding these paper balloons for so long, I knew he would be able to give us a good tutorial on how to make them. I asked my dad to help me create a step-by-step guide on how to fold the origami balloons for the blog, and happily he said yes!
This is a simple and fun activity to do with your kids. All you need is a standard letter (8.5″x11″) piece of paper!
Kids age 5+ should be able to fold along with you. Younger children can watch you fold, then participate by blowing up and decorating the balloon after you fold it.
There are several STEAM concepts practiced in this activity:
- Shapes – They will fold triangles, rectangles, and squares, so take the opportunity to talk about and practice learning the shapes as you fold them.
- Folds – They will learn how to fold paper, how to give your fold a strong crease, and make sure the sides are even. This attention to detail required to create origami is something that will serve them well in STEAM education and a future STEM career.
- Following directions – In this activity, my dad and I provide step-by-step directions (with pictures) to follow. Children will learn that in school, and eventually as STEM professionals, the ability to correctly follow directions is an important and required skill.
- Origami – A Japanese word for the art of paper folding. The art involves folding a flat, square shaped piece of paper into a 3-D work of art or sculpture. This is helping kids visualize ideas in 3 dimensions which is an essential skill for all fields of STEM.
- One letter size (8.5″x11″) piece of papers —OR—
- It’s even easier if you already have a square piece of paper!
Since we are using paper, there is a risk of paper cuts. To try to minimize this risk, handle the paper at the folded creases rather than the edges. If a paper cut does occur, immediately clean and bandage the lesion before continuing with the activity.
- Start with your paper laying horizontally on a clean, flat surface in front of you.
2. Fold the bottom right corner up to make a right triangle with the top edge of the paper, and then run your finger down the fold to make a strong crease (you will have a rectangular strip along the left side of the paper that will not be covered with this fold). Note: If you have a square paper already, you will be folding this diagonally across to make a right triangle with no extra paper showing, then skip forward to step 6.
3. Fold a rectangle along the edge of the triangle, and run your finger along the fold to make a strong crease (this is the extra rectangle piece next to your right triangle – see image below for reference).
4. Fold the rectangle back the opposite direction, and run your finger along the fold to make a strong crease.
5. Hold the rectangle against the edge of your table and tear the paper along the fold.
6. Now you should have a square paper, folded into a right triangle.
7. Open the paper back to a square, with a creased line from the top right corner to the bottom left corner of the paper, (the crease is facing down).
8. Fold a right triangle in the opposite direction of the first right triangle, from the bottom left corner to the top right corner, and run your finger along the fold to make a strong crease.
9. Open the paper again to a square, you should have an “x” folded into your paper with the creases facing downward.
10. Fold the top edge down to the bottom edge making a rectangle, and run your finger along the fold to make a strong crease.
11. Pick up the paper holding it in the top center, where the top rectangle crease and the two diagonal creases meet.
12. Fold the right side of the rectangle into itself creating a triangle (also known in origami as the squash fold), by pushing in the paper between the diagonal folds, and then run your finger along the fold to make a strong crease (see image below and video in Step 13 for reference on how to do this).
13. Repeat Step 12 on the left side, creating a triangle.
14. Fold the front bottom right corner of the triangle up to the tip of the triangle, creating a sideways triangle in front of the large triangle, and run your finger along the fold to make a strong crease.
15. Repeat Step 14 on the three remaining corners, creating a diamond.
16. Fold the outer right corner of the diamond into the center creating a triangle, and run your finger along the fold to make a strong crease (see photo below for reference).
17. Repeat Step 16 on the three remaining corners.
18. Tuck the tip of the triangle formed in Step 14 into the pocket formed by the triangle you folded in Step 16 (see picture below and video in Step 19 for reference). Then run your finger along the fold to make a strong crease.
19. Repeat Step 18 on the three remaining corners.
20. You have now completed folding the balloon! Pick up your folded balloon, and find the hole in the top.
21. Hold the paper balloon up to your lips and blow into it to expand the balloon.
22. Optional – Color and decorate your paper balloon.
My three year old daughter enjoyed watching us create the balloon, occasionally helping with folds.
Meanwhile, my son folded his own balloon, with a little help lining up the edges from my husband.
Both kids loved blowing up the balloons and tossing them around like balls. The balloons will remain inflated until you push them closed at the folds.
This was a great family activity that I know my kids will always remember with fond memories. I hope one day they will teach their grandkids how to fold origami balloons too!
I hope you enjoy trying this fun activity with your kids and let me know how it goes in the comments below!