Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Paper and string

Cady Gray is in an origami phase these days. I keep her regularly supplied with paper (ordered from Amazon in various patterns), and she fills our house with animals, objects, and geometric figures. She was introduced to string figures by a beloved babysitter, and practices the movements carefully.

I remember spending hours in the same pursuits when I was her age. I checked out every book in the various libraries to which I have access, creased them open, and crouched over them on my floor trying to interpret the various arrows and dotted lines in the line drawings.

It wasn't long before I (a) ran out of origami and string figure books, and (b) ran into frustration with directions I couldn't squint into clarity. And that was that. There was no place for me to go to make progress. And eventually, all those skills faded. I can't even remember how to make a teacup with a loop of string anymore.

Cady Gray is in a much more favorable position to keep learning and keep developing those habits in her hands. The reason is the internet. Origami sites -- not to mention paper planes, string figures, whatever you want to make out of those simple materials -- are plentiful. Best of all, you can follow along with illustrative photographs or videos (even better!) not limited in number or size by a paper publication.

I love to watch her create. And just by trying so many things, and practicing the basic skills over and over, she's able to develop a sense of the craft that helps her understand and attempt more advanced maneuvers. Who knows whether she'll outgrown paper and string like I did, or at about the same time? The important thing is that while her interest remains high, she has so many more options, so much better instruction, and is able to accomplish so much more.

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