Kites: Educational & Recreational
April is National Kite Month
Part of many momentous scientific discoveries, kites have served for centuries as a means of studying weather, have been used in examining the principles of flight, and, of course, played a central role in Benjamin Franklin’s discovery of electricity. These days, kites are used for recreation much more often then they are for scientific research, but a day of kite flying is an experiment in math and science in and of itself. Celebrate springtime as a family by spending a blustery day testing out your kite flying skills!
April is National Kite Month, an annual month-long celebration of history, design, modern use, and outdoor activities of kites. Organized by the American Kitefliers Association and the Kite Trade Association International, National Kite Month promotes the educational and recreational value of kite-flying to folks of all ages, incorporating online resources and community events in order to support families in learning to understand, build, and fly kites.
Learning & creative opportunities for celebrating National Kite Month at home are endless! Kites lend themselves to lessons in geometry, physics, measurement, design, history, culture, literature, and more – and such lessons can be exciting and informative for kids of all ages. Of course, the best way to learn is by building and flying your very own kite – so get building! Kite Plan Base offers a database of over 1,500 kite plans, which families can search through based on the complexity of design and ease of use that they’d like to have. Particularly useful for older children, Kite Plan Base’s designs often require basic understanding of geometry, measurement, and perhaps a little bit of physics just to understand how the kite will fly, but carrying out one of their plans is a great way for older students to practice all of these concepts and to expand their understanding of how each concept is used.
When kite-making with younger kids, the possibilities for DIY kites are endless – and many (if not most) of them can be created using recycled materials! Families can make a simple construction paper kite using sticks found outside, take leftover wax or tissue paper to create a colorful flying creature, staple together printer paper for a binoculars-shaped flying object, or turn paper shopping bags into uniquely decorated kites. Each one of these projects presents an opportunity for practice cooperating, reading and following directions, motor-related skills like tracing and cutting, and using tools for measurement, and also allows plenty of space for kiddos to exercise their imagination and creativity!
To supplement your kite studies and flying fun, add some kite-themed books to your reading pile. Local author Jane Yolen’s The Emperor and the Kite tells a story about a young girl who is separated from her father and uses a kite in order to connect with him, while Ji-Li Jiang’s Red Kite, Blue Kite (illustrated by local artist Greg Ruth) tells a similar story, where a young boy communicates with his father using a kite-code while his father is imprisoned during China’s Cultural Revolution. Less serious kite-themed books include Oliver Jeffer’s silly story Stuck, and Kite Day: A Bear and Mole Story, a story of friendship and cooperation by Will Hillenbrand.
The upcoming school vacation week provides families with an excellent opportunity to spend some time making and flying kites together. For some additional educational fun, make a day trip together to Milton, MA, where a National Kite Month Event will be taking place at the Blue Hill Observatory Science Center on Monday, April 21st. Through tours, demonstrations, and hands-on activities, families will be able to learn all about the role of kites in weather studies, and will learn about the role that kite flying has played in the observatory’s history. Kite-themed tours of the observatory will take place every hour and a half between 10am and 2:30pm, and are $8 for adults and $5 for children. Additionally, families can participate in a hands-on kite-making workshop, held every hour and a half between 10:40 and 3:10, for a fee of $10. Kite-flying will take place throughout the day, and families can feel free to bring their own kites to add to the crowd that will fill the sky above Blue Hill.
Get outside and enjoy the spring weather – go fly a kite! (And if the weather is bad, you can always sing about kites with a young Dick van Dyke!)