Monday, April 13, 2009

Make a Simple Diamond Kite

Here are step-by-step instructions to make a great kite for kids. There is no gluing - just connecting dots, cutting with scissors, sticking with tape and one knot. Even though this is a quick kite to make, it really flies great! Here is the list of things you will need:
  • plenty of thin colored plastic (from a garbage bag or grocery bag)
  • 2 wooden dowels (1/8" thick) or 2 bamboo BBQ skewers, at least 12 inches long
  • clear sticking tape (regular scotch tape or packing tape)
  • kite string, or even very strong sewing thread
  • a ruler or yard stick
  • a black marking pen like a Sharpie
  • scissors, big enough to snip the dowels or skewers
  • somewhere flat to work
These directions will take you through all the steps you need to make a spectacular kite!

A note about measuring: If you want, you can make this kite by eye, without any measuring tool. You just need to find halfway points. However, I find it better to use a ruler or yardstick just to be accurate.

Step 1. Make sure your sticks are equal lengths. (If you are going to measure dowels, make the lengths a multiple of 4. For example: 12" or 16" or 20" or 24" etc. This makes finding the halfway points easy. This model kite is made from 20" dowels.) If you use bamboo skewers, be sure to snip the sharp points off!

Step 2. By eye or with a yardstick, mark the center points on both sticks. Then, on one of the sticks, make another mark exactly half-way between the first mark and one end of the stick (This is one-fourth of the stick).

Step 3. Open out some plastic (white or colored plastic is best, but even clear plastic will work - it just might be hard to spot your kite in the sky). Lay it flat on your work space or table top, and arrange the sticks as shown, with one stick's halfway mark crossing the other stick's one-fourth mark. (You can use a ruler to make sure the sticks cross at a right angle)

Step 4. Mark the positions of the stick ends with the marker pen, making clear dots. Then remove the sticks and connect the dots, using the pen and ruler or yardstick.

Step 5. Cut out the diamond shape with the scissors. Lay down the vertical (up and down) stick, then lay down the horizontal (side to side) stick.

Step 6. Use 4 short pieces of tape to secure the sticks. First do the vertical stick, using one piece of tape for each of the black rectangles on the picture below. Put half of the piece of tape underneath the plastic, and then wrap it over and onto the stick end and top of the plastic. Secure it tightly with your fingers. Then do the ends of the horizontal stick. This might be the trickiest part of this kite project.

Step 7. Using the left over side of your plastic bag, cut out ribbons of plastic, about as wide as 2 or 3 adult fingers. You should have at least 10 pieces of plastic ribbon that are each as tall as the kite. Using a simple knot, tie these ribbons together end to end to make a tail for the kite. It doesn't matter if the pieces are equal or even, the tail is just to give the kite balance and keep it pointing up.

Step 8. Thread one end of the tail between the vertical stick and the plastic, right at the bottom of the kite above the tape, and tie it off.

Step 9. Flip the kite over. Where the sticks cross, poke two small holes in the plastic, using a tack, pencil point, or needle. The holes should be diagonal to each other, with the crossed sticks between them. Take your kite string and poke it through one hole. Loop it over both sticks, and poke it through the diagonal hole so the sticks will be tied together. Do the knot whichever way you find easiest. This is probably the second trickiest part of making this kite!

Step 10. If you have a spool of kite string, you are ready to fly! If you are using your own string or strong thread, wind at least 50 feet around a strong dowel or un-sharpened pencil for a spool. (Be sure to tie the string to the spool before winding, so the kite doesn't try to escape!)

You are now ready to fly the kite! (If the weather is in the right mood.)

This picture was taken about 30 minutes after I started making the kite! It looked purple on the orange paper, but it is actually blue. It flew beautifully.

Since this kite is made from plastic, if it should escape from you, please try your best to recover it, so we don't leave any plastic in the environment. When the kite finally does meet its end, please put it in the proper place. If it is made from basic grocery or garbage bags, most grocery stores recycle that type of plastic. Thank you!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Help us Explore the World of Kites!

People all over the world fly kites. Many people fly them for festivals and cultural traditions. Some fly kites as a sport, competing against other kite-fliers. Kites are also used in extreme sports like kite surfing. Whatever the setting, there is something magical about launching a kite and watching it dance in the sky.

This blog is part of a primary school project about kites around the world for spring 2009. We would like to learn more about the ways that people around the world enjoy kites, especially children.

Please help us explore these similarities and differences by leaving a comment and answering some of the following questions. Feel free to answer all, some, or just one. Add any other information you want to share.

1. What is your first name and what country are you from?
2. Are kites flown at special times of the year, or for special activities in your country?
3. Where do people fly kites (the beach, park, roof-tops...)?
4. Are there different kinds of kites in your country? What makes them different?
5. What do you call kites? What different names do they have?
6. Have you ever made a kite? What kind of kite was it?
7. Do you know any tales or traditions about kites?

Thank you!