Are you a parent or teacher interested in kite making for child flyers? Seeing a kite flying draws kids like a moth to a flame, if you haven't noticed already!
What I've done here is to give general tips for quickly whipping together working diamond kites for kids. Cheap and simple.
Why a diamond kite in particular? Because it's...
1-Skewer kites are fun, but somewhat toy-like :-) due to their rather small size. Fancy something much bigger to fly, suitable for teenagers and adults?
The Making Skewer Kites e-book has plenty of 58cm (23") designs in bamboo skewers and plastic. These are 2-Skewer kites, but all the 1-Skewer designs are in there as well.
A handy approach is to just print out the pages for the kite you want to make next. The e-book is also handy for working off-line on a laptop, tablet or other device.
Making a small kite is very appropriate for kids, particularly the smallest children. This makes it easy for them to hang on to the flying line. Bigger kites can pull quite strongly. Besides the light pulling force, a small kite is more easily carried around and stored. Even under the pram in the case of a very small kid like our Aren! Aren features from time to time in the Kite Flying Adventures section of this website.
Whatever materials you end up using when kite making for child kiters, remember that the lighter the better. Light kites don't waste so much of their lifting force on lifting their own weight in addition to the weight of the flying line. Lighter kites fly higher, all other things being equal. Also, heavy kites won't fly in very light breezes.
Regarding the color of the plastic, the brighter the better. A kid's kite is less interesting if he or she has trouble spotting it when 50 meters (150 feet) up!
OK, time for the nitty-gritty! Firstly, some ideas for materials.
For the 2 sticks, or to use the correct term, kite spars, there are a few options. I've listed them in order of preference.
Having both sticks exactly the same length will work fine.
For the sail and tail, any lightweight plastic sheet will do. For example, freezer bags, shopping bags. The lighter and thinner the better. Clear plastic will be difficult to see except near sunset! Then it can put on quite a show, surprisingly!
You will want some sticking tape. For a small kite about as tall as an adult forearm, almost any sort of office-use tape will do. It should be roughly the width of your finger. Forget masking tape and other heavier types. In the pictures below I've used bits of cut-up packing tape. This was just to make them easier to see! You'll probably be using the clear stuff.
For making the bridle, and binding the 2 sticks together you need some polyester sewing thread. The lightest grades are suitable for a 30cm (1 foot) span kite like the one described below.
For larger kites, use heavier grades of thread. However, for kites over 100cm (3 feet) in span, switch to Dacron or Nylon line from a kite shop. As a last resort, string or wool could be used - just don't expect the kite to soar high on the slightest whiffs of breeze!
Here is my simplified procedure for making a rough-and-ready little diamond kite, regardless of what exact materials you have chosen. It's very imprecise, but it's almost certain to produce a flyable kite. In record time too!
Step 1. Form the classic diamond shape by crossing one stick over the other. Bind the sticks together with cotton line or anything else that doesn't seem too thick or heavy.
The exact shape of the diamond doesn't matter. Try to make it reasonably symmetrical though. Check by eye to see that both sides, left and right, seem the same size.
trick is to suspend the vertical spar on two fingers, and then push the
cross spar through the binding until it balances better.
Step 2. Lay down a sheet of your chosen sail plastic flat on a table-top or the floor.
Now lay the 2-stick cross on top of the plastic. There should be plenty of room for your sticks on the plastic.
Use tape to stick down the spars to the plastic. Don't overdo it, four strips on each stick is enough, as in the photo.
Step 3. With a ruler or even by hand, use a marking pen to draw a diamond outline around the sticks. Four straight lines, connecting all four stick ends in a diamond shape.
Now take out a pair of sharp scissors and cut around the diamond. See the photo.
Hey, this is starting to look
like a kite already!
Step 4. Carefully put a sticky tape cap on all 4 spar ends. For each spar end...
Each corner of the kite should now be neatly covered in sticky
tape, with the sail plastic held firmly to each corner of the kite. The
photo shows the right hand tip before the tape is folded under and stuck to the other side.
Step 5. Now for the bridle, which connects the flying line to
the kite. Cut a small hole in the plastic sail near each end of the
vertical spar. Take a length of cotton line, or whatever you have
decided to use for the bridle, about three times the length of a kite
spar. Feed each end through the holes in the plastic and loop it around
the spar a few times. Then feed the line back through the hole and tie
it off firmly. If you're worried about whether the knots might slip, use
a drop of fast-drying glue to fix each knot to the spar.
Now tie a loop into the bridle. Where? The loop should be either
directly over where the sticks cross, or a little further toward the
nose or top of the kite. With the bridle laid over to the side, it
should look something like in the photo. A bit hard to see, but there's
the bridle off to the left, with the loop in the end.
Step 6. Cut a tail out of a plastic bag, cutting it round and
round like peeling an apple. Keep going until you have a length that is
at least 6 times as long as the kite itself. Use another bag and stick
the 2 ribbons together, if one bag is not long enough. The width of the
tail should be around an eighth to a quarter of the width of the kite
itself. This tail doesn't have to be accurately done at all! Just get
the width and length roughly right.
When you have a nice long tail, simply stick one end onto the bottom of the kite. You can use a bit more tape here, since you don't want the tail to fall off on the first flight! I've used clear tape in the photo so you can see how I fitted the tail around the bridle knot. I also used a bit of tape on the other side of the kite for extra strength.
That's it about kite making for child flyers or anyone else who wants to make a working kite on the cheap and really quick!
Flying the kite! Attach a polyester sewing thread line to the bridle loop and you're ready to fly.
A convenient way to do this is to tie the flying line to one end of a small paper clip. Then just slip on the bridle loop so it's looped around the other end of the paper clip. The photos make it pretty clear, although I've attached a thicker cotton flying line to make it easier to see.
See how the paper clip has been bent too, in the bottom close-up photo.
This way, you can easily swap your flying line from kite to kite if you make more than one.
It's for you to judge just how much your child can do in constructing the kite.
At one end of the scale, if the child is very young or of low ability for some reason, they could simply paste a few decorative bits onto the sail of the completed kite, and perhaps stick the tail to the kite with tape.
However, older kids should be able to do it all, with some supervision. I've kept things ultra-simple for this reason. However, I read somewhere that many kids have trouble with knots, so be ready to help in this area.
Have fun kite making for child kite fliers and fanciers! Just be careful with 2 year old kite wreckers. Our first MBK Skewer Diamond kite still bears the scars of our marauding toddler, Aren... ;-) That's him in the photo.
The Making Skewer Kites e-book has plenty of small kite designs.