Let's Go Fly a Kite!


When spring breezes blow, take to the beach or the park to fly colorful kites the kids make themselves!

By Barbara Albright

 

The sight of a fluttering, high-flying kite makes everyone smile. Holding the string that anchors it to earth is even more exhilarating, and if the kite is homemade, better yet!

Kites come in all shapes and sizes. Some folks collect them; others make their own. Kite making is a satisfying craft and one that the kids and you can work on together.

The Kite's Frame
To make a kite, you need two sticks. One should be a yard long and the other 30 inches. Use lightweight dowels about ¼ inch in diameter, or strips of light wood about 3/8 inch wide and ¼ inch thick. The lighter the wood, the lighter the kite - and the higher it will fly.

With a small knife or fine-tooth saw, carefully cut a slit or notch in the end of each stick. You will have four notches.

Next, mark the exact center of the shorter stick, which is the cross stick. Mark the longer stick 9 inches from one end. This is the upright stick.

Cross the sticks so that they make a "t" where the marks meet. Glue them together and then lash them with lightweight string, such as kite string, fishing line, or cotton twine. Wrap the string around the sticks in an "x" formation to hold them securely.

Put a drop of glue in each of the already-cut notches. Run a single piece of string through the notches and tie securely. The string will outline the kite.

Kite Paper
Lay a large sheet of tissue paper, colorful gift-wrapping paper, newspaper (the funny papers are good choice), or light plastic on a work surface.

Lay the kite on the paper and cut out the kite's shape, leaving about a 2" inch border.

If the paper is not festive enough, decorate it with paint, crayons, markers, sparkles, or glitter.

Fold the paper over the string of the kite, creasing it on the 2-inch border and then securing it with glue. Notch the paper to leave the ends of the sticks exposed.

Bridles and Reels
Lay the kite on the floor with the paper side facing down. Cut a 40-inch-length of string and tie this to each end of the upright kite stick.

Cut a 34 inch-long length of string and tie this to each end of the cross stick.

For the kite string, use a reel of string, which is better than a ball of string. Lift the bridle strings where they cross and tie the end of the reel string to them around the crossed point of the bridle.

You may want to adjust the bridle after a few flights - shorten or lengthen it - to make sure the kite flies well.

Fluttering Tails
A kite tail keeps the kite tilted upright by acting as downward ballast. It also steadies it in the air.

Cut a piece of string that is at least 8 feet long. Now cut strips of cloth (any scraps you happen to have will do) about 6 inches long and 2 inches wide. Glue these to the tail string at 6-inch intervals.

Attach the cloth at its center so that it flops over the string. Tie the tail to the bottom of the kite.

You could, if you prefer, knot thin strips of cloth together and tie this to the bottom of the kite, but you will have to fiddle with it to get it right.

Take the kite and head for the open spaces, the bright blue sky, the warm spring sunshine, and hopefully, some stiff breezes. Have fun!