Our spring weather couldn’t be any nicer right now. We have mild temperatures during the day, a light breeze, and sunny days. We’re going to take advantage of the beautiful spring weather with light breezes to fly kites! Today’s STEAM Activity is making our own kites! 

My kids were given kites by the Easter Bunny last year and they had a blast flying them. The kites only lasted a day or two before the strings broke and/or got tangled, the frames bent, and the sails ripped.

This year the Easter Bunny forgot to bring my kids kites. They were disappointed when they didn’t have new kites in their baskets, so I told them we get to make our own instead! We loosely followed a tutorial from Pitsco and they turned out great!

MATERIALS:

  • Plastic or paper bag
  • 2 straight sticks 
  • Tape
  • String 
  • Toilet paper roll
  • Ribbon

PROCEDURE:

  1. Collect sticks from your yard or park

2. Cut the front rectangle out of the paper or plastic bag

3. Place the paper in a diamond orientation, then cross the sticks over the bag

4. Tape the sticks to the bag, make sure they are attached very securely

5. Poke holes in the 4 corners of the bag at the end of the sticks 

6. Measure a piece of string a few inches longer than the stick and tie it into the holes on either side of the stick

7. Repeat on the smaller stick, so your strings are attached to the corners of the bag and criss-crossing above the sticks

8. Cut another very long piece of string (this will be the control line you hold to fly the kite), wrap it around the toilet paper roll, and tie the other end to the intersection of the two strings attached to the kite

9. Add ribbon to the bottom of the kite to make a tail

10. Go outside on a windy day and fly kite by running into the wind and releasing more string from the roll as the kite starts flying

STEAM CONCEPTS LEARNED:

  • Science: Kites are tethered to our hands by the string, and they need wind to fly (similar to how airplanes need the thrust of their engines to fly). Kites fly using the 4 forces of flight: lift, weight, thrust, and drag. As the kite sails through the air, lift holds it up. The wind provides thrust to move the kite forward. Drag from the air makes the kite slow down. The kite’s weight, along with gravity, bring it to the ground.
  • Engineering: Kite design is important to how it flys. Kites need a frame (the wooden sticks), sail (the bag), bridle (the string over the sticks), control line (the long line attached to the toilet paper roll), and tail (ribbon). How these components are designed and arranged is good practice for engineering design and problem solving. You may try a design that doesn’t work, but use it to learn and adjust your next design when you try again.

This was a fun activity for the whole family. My kids kept yelling, “This is so much fun!” As they were flying their kites. It melted my heart that they had so much fun with these homemade kites. I don’t think they missed the store bought kites at all after flying their own. These have held up almost as well and provided just as much fun for my kids!

Let me know if you give this a try and what material you used: paper or plastic bags.

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