Kites for Sunday School

by Steve Kasa
(Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA)

The kites we made...
1. 36" Sled Kite. I loved it... kids liked it.
2. 12" Diamond Kite. Good flier! Worked OK in most conditions ....
3. 18" Delta - single line. Most popular of the 3. Launched easily.
Here's how we came to make these kites...

Our church runs an unusual Sunday School program. I have been a teacher/volunteer for several years. They give us a 'topic' and we teachers have to come up with a lesson plan in 'our field'. Mine is science. One week I get the first graders, the next week is second grade, next third, etc...

This past plan was the story after Jesus' resurrection where the boys go fishing and he shows up for "Breakfast on the Beach" (the theme). Me - I did the lesson and setup a bunch of my beach toys! Frisbee, hackysack, beach-balls, & KITES! I have a couple of store-bought kites but wanted to expand the list. I googled and found the MBK website.

The first week we tried to complete and fly the plans for the diamond kite - but were quite rushed and I dropped that plan for subsequent lessons.

I decided to build several MBK kites and we'd just go try and fly them = a MUCH better plan. I used a roll of bright blue plastic tablecloth covering for fabric and 1/8" doweling for spars. Electrical tape & transparent tape as described. I made a 36" spar Sled kite, a 12" spar Diamond kite, and an 18" spar Delta kite (with keel and single line). I used thin plastic hunters orange safety tape for tail material. My other kites included a large Box-style fish, a large Diamond, a 2-line Delta, and 2 small odd 3D things.

The kids all loved the small 3D things till they found that they stunk. The Box kite was OK but took a lot of wind to stay afloat. The 2-line Delta was too much to handle. NO-ONE was interested in the big purchased Diamond. They all wanted to fly the handmade MBK kites (Cool! ;) ). Hardest thing to teach to the kids was string control. They all wanted to control from the spool instead of the line itself. Even demonstrating was not enough to get them to discard the spool as their control point. Still we got everything aloft in very gusty and turbulent conditions for at least a few minutes each week. All in all, I am hooked!

MBK Kite SUMMARY :)

1. 36" Sled Kite. I loved it... kids liked it. Easily upset by turbulence. Went up easy but didn't stay up so well. In strong gusty winds it was fun to try and keep it riding by just steering the long bridle line. I would do it and let kids try. The interesting design kept their interest.

2. 12" Diamond Kite. Good flier! Worked OK in most conditions but took a long tail to remain stable -> then dropped fast when winds died down. Bigger sail area would have helped this puppy a lot.

3. 18" Delta - single line. Most popular of the 3. Launched easily. I did not have the keel tight enough, so cross winds sent it to the ground readily. We cracked the spars on crashes and I ended up taping a second section of dowel along the cracks to keep it in use... which worked OK. Putting bows into the spars also helped.

I ended up later taking the Sled & Delta to the beach with the family one afternoon. The Delta would only go up so high before it failed and crashed heavily - keel issues I think. Last crash destroyed the spars and I had to throw it out.

The Sled would also only go so far before it became unstable, but it came down soft with some work - and I didn't crash into anyone (too close sometimes!). LOL...

I figured out that 1/8" dowel is too thin and will try 3/16 next time (Yes I intend to try MORE!). The plastic fabric I used was rather delicate but performed quite well and was pretty to look at with the bright blue and fluorescent orange tails. Wound string is a problem and I can see where braided would be a huge improvement. I also think increasing sail area/bigger kites tended to handle light winds better.

I am attending a weekend telescope party/gathering in central Ohio, USA in 2 weeks (June) and intend to bring a couple MBK kites to entertain folks during the daytime (along with my water bottle rocket launcher & canning jar pulse-jet engine!).

Thanks for The Website, The Plans, The Stories, The Vids. Please include me as one of your club members too, if you would. I'd be glad to try and fly & report on some of your other designs too.

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Longest post award!
by: Tim Parish

Thanks for that voluminous post Steve! Glad to see you and all the kids were able to get so much successful kiting action. Hope you all continue to have success with MBK kites in months / years to come. I'm planning to put out info specifically for non-Metric fliers such as yourselves in future also - should take some of the guess-work out of it!

P.S. For 12" wingspan kites, I would really recommend using bamboo BBQ skewers, as opposed to doweling. Bamboo is amazingly light yet strong...

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