I learned how to fold paper cranes at Terra Sol Sanctuary in downtown Wilmington, NC.

Up for the task? Prepare to be frustrated.

This takes practice, people. 

Folding A Paper Crane


Start out with a square sheet of paper (all sides should be even). Watch the video above while going through these visual cues to get started. It helps me to envision the shapes needed to make the crane, so I divided the steps up into those shapes (just go in order and watch the video for reference).

2 Triangles 

    • Fold the paper into a triangle.
    • Unfold, and then fold the paper in the opposite direction, into another triangle.
    • Unfold, and flip the paper over. The crease should be a +, with four triangles total.

2 Rectangles

    • Fold the paper into a rectangle.
    • Unfold, and then fold the paper in the opposite direction, into another rectangle.

Plus/Cross Sign

    • Unfold the paper, so it’s back to it’s original square shape.
    • Lift the paper up in your hands, and use the creases from the rectangle/square to make a “plus”. Now, flatten it into a square. (Reference at 0:45, this part is tricky to explain without watching.)


    • The paper should be in a small square now. Fold the corners over into small, triangles. Do this on the front, as well as the back of the square. It should be in the shape of a kite.
    • Bend the top, unfolded part down to create a crease. I like to think this part looks like an owl.

Boat/Alligator Mouth

    • Watch 1:30 to see how to unfold the crane, into what Kim calls an “alligator mouth”. I think it looks more like a boat. Whatever, it’s a tricky part of the process, so be careful. The paper will tear easily. This happened to me a few times.
    • Make sure you really flatten those creases. Repeat the same boat/alligator mouth on the other side (by flipping it over).


    • You’ll fold two more isosceles triangles on each side (if you’re not watching the video with this by this point, you are wasting your time). This part is probably the most difficult, as the paper is really delicate and will rip if you’re not careful.
    • You’ll open each side of the shape now, and push the fold up in the opposite direction, to make the head and tail.
    • Fold the wings slightly, as well as whichever side you decide is the head.

You’re done! Or you hate me!