Kites For School Children

by Michelle Bevan
(Geraldton, WA, Australia)

Q:

I work in the schoolies room in a child care centre. The children are age 5-12 years. Our April theme is Malaysia, and I would like to make either a small kite each or perhaps a couple of big ones (cheaply!) I have 10 children in my care each afternoon.

Can you make some easy suggestions?

Much appreciated...

A:

There's a couple of pages on my site specifically about Malaysian kites. The Wau kite in particular, is a large and very ornate traditional kite. If you and / or some of the older kids want to do some background reading, you might like to follow those links.

It's not really possible to re-create traditional Malaysian kites in one session, with young children, but here are some ideas to...


  1. Help them make something that actually flies at the first attempt.

  2. Incorporate some of the decoration concepts that are used by traditional Malaysian kite-makers. Fake, but fun! And just a little educational, hopefully.



1. A successful flying kite for every kid...

Regarding a small kite suitable for the youngest children to make and fly, you could try the Tiny Tots Diamond. A packet of 100 bamboo skewers (30cm), several plastic bags and a reel of sticky tape is all that is required for the kites themselves. Tools required are just a pair of scissors, a marking pen and a ruler. Cheap enough? :-)

For flying line, any ordinary polyester sewing thread should be strong enough for this little kite. A rectangular piece of heavy cardboard can be used as a simple winder.

The Tiny Tots Diamond has been successfully made by many adults who have never made a real flying kite before. The smaller kids will need some help of course, but they could at least cut out the plastic sail with scissors after the diamond shape has been marked out on the plastic. Some of them might also be able to attach the tail with a simple half-hitch around the skewer.

Colored permanent markers are the ideal way for kids to decorate the sail of a small plastic kite like this one. Probably best to do this before the sail shape is cut from the bag plastic!

To get into a 'Malaysian' theme with this, suggest to the kids to try drawing a large flower-like symbol right in the middle. Then, around the edges, marking long snaking lines representing vines. Also, the shapes of small flowers and leaves, all along the vines. Using appropriate colors would help the overall effect.

2. A much larger kite idea...

To give more scope for some slightly more authentic Malaysian decoration, why not try the Simple Diamond Kite. Instead of doing it in plastic, as described, substitute newspaper. Since paper tears esily, it will require reinforcement around the edges. This could be achieved by running sticky tape along all the edges of the diamond shape sail.

If you can get hold of some Tyvek cheaply enough, this will be so much better than newspaper!

Stick with a long plastic tail for stability.

You could experiment with cutting out lots of small leaf and flower shapes from colored tissue. After drawing in some vines with green markers, add the tissue shapes using a glue-stick. As with the smaller kite, put a large flower symbol in the center, and build up the rest of the decoration closer to the edges of the paper sail. Covering perhaps half the area of the kite.

To add a bit more authenticity, draw a colored pot near the lower corner of the sail, and make all the 'vines' come out from it.

Do one kite very sparingly, and see how well it flies. If you haven't made it too heavy, try another one with more decoration.

30 pound Dacron is the ideal line to fly this kite on, obtainable from a kite shop. Otherwise, try some fairly heavy polyester thread. Upholstery thread perhaps. In moderate winds, this kite can generate quite a firm pull on the line.

In conclusion...

I hope the above ideas and links can help you put something together for April. It would be a great idea to have an attempt at both kites before April, in case you need to make any small adjustments to your approach.

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