The Origami Experience: Design Your Own Garden

Origami, or paper folding, is a Japanese traditional art that can be traced back to the 17th century.

Most people associate origami with the folding of individual pieces. But can the individual pieces be put together to form something useful? That’s what a group of children aimed to discover when I joined them at an origami workshop conducted at the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden.

The theme of the workshop was “Design Your Own Garden”. The children were supposed to accomplish this by arranging the origami paper pieces, which they folded by themselves with the help of their teachers’ instructions. They could also use recycled products such as straws, ice cream sticks, egg containers, fallen leaves and woods to complete the project.

“By providing recycled materials and taking them through  the hands-on activity, we hope our participants can learn to conserve our resources as much as possible,” said lead instructor and Assistant Officer of Education at Singapore Botanic Gardens, Muhammad Taufiq Jumal.

The recycled materials provided include fallen leaves and egg containers. 

The first part of the garden the children did was grass. All of them found it simple to do – they only needed to fold a piece of paper about three times to form the garden’s foundation.

Next, the children folded the flowers. Compared to the steps to form the grass, this part proved to be more complex. After folding the leaves and flower separately, they used glue to stick the different parts together.

A child admires her paper flower.

The most challenging piece came last – the paper tree. While the participants had the option not to include it – due to its complicated 12-step folding method, all of them successfully folded their little own trees, with the help of their mothers and instructor.

All the components needed to make the origami garden.

Next was designing the garden. The children were free to put whatever they wanted on the green wooden boards that were provided for them, as long as they used recycled material and the origami pieces they had completed earlier.

One lesson the children learnt was how to share, as they had to select their decorations from a central collection of recycled materials. In addition, they also learnt to apply their creative skills when coming up with a design of their own. I was astonished to find that despite using the same leaves, twigs and paper, the children were very imaginative when it came to creating their own unique gardens.

“The origami workshop was fun and not very difficult, I really enjoyed myself today!” Grace Sen, a Primary 2 student, gushed. For the younger ones, they got to bond with their mothers while attempting the activity.

It was heartwarming to witness the interaction and cooperation between them as the children happily assisted their mothers in gluing the different materials on the cardboard backing.In turn, mothers let their children decide where  to put each item, without questioning their choices.

Mothers helping the younger children with their origami craftwork.

A completed origami garden made by one of the children.

While the children who participated in the workshop may forget how to fold origami trees, flowers and grass, we hope that they remember the lessons taught –  how we can reuse and recycle materials to create something beautiful.

Grace Sen proudly shows off her little garden.

If you are interested in signing your children up for similar workshops or even drama, visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens website and check out the list of workshops.
These workshops aim to share with participants on how to protect and appreciate the environment.

Photos and text by Ivy Xu
Total Comments: 2

Jane Koe 4/17/2014 7:18:59 PM

Hi I am a parent volunteer with a primary school and interested to know whether we can arrange a workshop on the Origami Experience for our parents and their children by inviting the instructor to conduct the workshop at the school premises and also the costs involved. Thank you.

Li-San 4/21/2014 10:04:43 AM

Hi Jane, The course is held within Jacob Ballas Children's Garden so as to allow children to experience nature up close. I have shared more information in an email to you.
Enter the captcha

Have views or comments on this article? Let us know via this form. If you would like to give us feedback on any other areas relating to our parks and gardens, please submit via