How To Make An Origami Dolphin

Mum and son sat together on a boat making an origami dolphin.

Image © ArthurHidden, under a Creative Commons license.

When you look at the large number of projects that you can fold and create with paper, its easy to wonder whether people living at the time paper was invented in Asia ever thought there would be so many things you could do with the material.

That is the joy of origami, a craft activity that needs few materials and mostly relies on neat creases or folds to create something special. Projects span all difficulty levels, so it's an activity that's suitable for all ages and abilities but one that you can keep building and expanding upon as your children's skills grow.

Animals are a fun place to start for origami beginners, or if you just want a quick family activity. Whichever project you choose, the results are always a lot of fun, especially when you take on the origami dolphin challenge we have here.

Two origami dolphins hanging on a string with an origami heart hanging in between them.
Image © Remains, under a Creative Commons license.

Easy Origami Dolphin Instructions

To make this super cute paper dolphin, you will need a square of origami paper or easy to fold craft paper, and a marker pen. Follow these step by step dolphin folding instructions, and take a trip under the sea.

Close up of a child cutting paper to make an origami dolphin.
Image © Xavi Cabrera, under a Creative Commons license.
  1. Fold your paper square in half from top to bottom.
  2. Open the origami paper out and rotate it, then fold in half again. When you open the paper out you will end up with creases meeting like a cross.
  3. Turn the paper around so it looks like a diamond, and fold in half from top to bottom.
  4. Open the paper up, rotate and fold in half again.
  5. Rotate the paper round so it's back to a square layout.
  6. Hold it halfway up on each side, then fold in towards the centre. Crease and flatten down.
  7. Fold the top left part over 4cm from the edge, and at a slight angle, so the top lays over the edge. This is one of the dolphin fins.
  8. Turn upside down for ease, then fold the paper over, lining up the triangle tip and left-hand side with the bottom edge. Flatten the fold as much as you can.
  9. Turn the right way up, then fold the top layer over to leave a triangle up and over to leave a triangle at the top. This is the dorsal fin on the dolphins back and should overlap the top edge.
  10. Crease the paper over starting at the tip of the nose, and moving up to create a flap laying over the top of the dorsal fin at one end.
  11. Next work on the nose, folding it back on itself to create a crease line 1cm up.
  12. To finish the nose fold the pointed tip over, so there is a straight edge, creating a stubby end, rather than a point.
  13. The final steps are working on the tail, so first place your fingers, one in between the two sides of the origami dolphin, one on top about 3.5 cm up the length of the dolphin tail. When you are ready push the paper in on itself and flatten it down. Your dolphin tail will now point down.
  14. To create the distinctive tail shape with the two sides like a fork, pull out the top layer of the tail and fold it out and up. You can adjust both parts of the tail until you are happy with the position.
  15. To finish turn the origami dolphin over and add an eye with a marker pen.
Pieces of different coloured textured paper fanned out.
Image © Anni Roenkae, under a Creative Commons license.

Although this is an easy dolphin origami project, sometimes it helps to see someone else making the project. Videos of this origami dolphin tutorial are available on Youtube. Mix the instructions here with a visual and it can help you get your origami folds in the right place, and keep your origami dolphin on track.

When you've finished your origami dolphin, you could also try making a seascape from an old cereal box and hanging your finished dolphin (or two) from the top using some thread to look like they are swimming in the sea. Another project idea would be to make a fun door hanger by painting a paper plate adding in sea and waves, add your dolphin origami so it's jumping out of the sea, then thread some ribbon through two small holes in the top.



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