Let's have an International Kite Festival at home! We’ve created an activity guide on making a kite from recycled materials! This project was inspired by Farmer Falgu Goes Kite Flying, written by Chitra Soundar, and illustrated by Kanika Nair. Farmer Falgu Goes Kite Flying by #ChitraSoundar captures the vibrant Indian International Kite Festival. The colorful illustration is representative of the culture and sentiments of the characters. It is a story of positive thinking and ingenuity as Farmer Falgu and his daughter Eila help people along the way to the festival.
Find this book in our Chill Zone library on your next visit to reDiscover Center! You can also listen to this Read-Aloud by Rising Stars.
STEP 1 - Sketch & Gather Your Materials
For this maker guide, I wanted to design a kite based on the design of the Philippine flag. The story of Farmer Falgu Goes Kite Flying was inspired by the International Kite Festival in India, so being a young maker from the Philippines, I want to make a kite out of recycled materials using the symbols and colors representing our national flag!
What about you? What national flag would you model your kite after? Pick a national flag, then on a sheet of paper, sketch the flag. The kite we designed is in the shape of a diamond. Sketch what you think that flag will look like!
- Plastic bag
- Pro-tip: Bags come in different colors. White is the easiest to color, but
- Roll of string/ribbon
- We used 4 skewers
- Permanent Markers (or any coloring utensil that will easily stick to plastics)
- Our design only needs blue, red, yellow, and white. Thankfully, our plastic is white by default so we only need the other three.)
- *Bonus: Small piece of cardboard (4 x 4 inches)
- Ruler/Straight Edge
What materials will you make with? If you don't have something, what alternatives can you use?
STEP 2 - Let's talk about Kites!
What are Kites? Kites are crafted instruments designed to catch the wind to fly high in the sky by a flying line or whether. Over the course of history, many cultures have used kites to "ward off evil, deliver messages, represent the gods, raise banners, discover natural phenomena, propel craft, drop propaganda leaflets, catch fish, spy on enemies, send radio signals, measure the weather, photograph the Earth, and lift passengers skyward" but are now flown "mostly for pleasure and sport, in addition to being a folk form of artistic expression." Learn more about the history of kites in this Britannica article.
How It Works
Kites are designed to defy the forces of gravity by riding with the wind. This is possible with the help of the string to which it is tethered. The kite and string will get pulled in the direction of the wind, but the kite's cover will provide the resistance it needs for the wind to carry it. Hence, the Bridle Point of the string is an important factor in giving our kites a Center of Area. Read this article on Kite Design Basics to learn more about the mechanics and engineering in designing kites.
Knowing this information, a lot of resources will show basic kites designed as diamond-shaped kites, but it's also possible to design a kite in different shapes and designs as long as you cover the kite design basics. Although it's a great starting point, don't limit yourself to a diamond kite! What other kite shapes would you like to explore?
STEP 3 - Let's talk about Flags!
What are Flags? National Flags are an important symbol that describes the history and present-day of the countries through the colors and design of the flag. Every flag has a different story behind the design, most influenced by the history of how the country is established.
For example, in the Philippine Flag, every symbol and color has significance. The stars in the white triangle symbolize the three main island groups in the country: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Each ray on the 8-ray sun represents a province in the Philippines that had significant involvement in the 1986 Philippine Revolution against Spanish colonization. Lastly, the flag flies blue side up in times of peace. The flag is flipped to red side up in wartimes.
Every national flag has its own story. Do some further research on your national flag. What country or cultures do you identify with? Which country would you like to represent on your kite?
STEP 4 - Build the Skeleton for your Kite
I used 4 skewers to create the skeleton for our kite but you can use any thin sticks or dowels for this project.
To make the diamond shape for your kite's skeleton, create two sticks at 3:2 ratio. The shorter stick will be horizontal and the taller stick will be vertical. To create these lengths with skewers, I combined 2 skewers for each bone using packaging tape and adjusted their length to the ratio required.
For example, if your shorter stick is 14 inches, the longer stick is 21 inches.
After taping the sticks to your desired length, put them perpendicular to each other, the shorter stick horizontal and the longer stick vertical.
Perpendicular is a geometric term define by two lines intersecting in the middle, and every angle around it is 90 degrees.
Tie the sticks together with string or twine to hold that angle. We recommend making them intersect at a point 1/3rd down from the top of your vertical stick.
*Pro-tip: Before you tie the sticks together, make sure they're even on each side and symmetrical. If you tie them and they're still uneven, measure and mark with a ruler on each side. Cut off excess using snips
STEP 5 - Make your Kite Cover
Using light materials like cloth or plastic, create the cover for your kite.
I used a plastic bag that was white and had blue writing on it because it was perfect for the colors I wanted to use on my kite. (I also love that the letters themselves say, "Thank you!" It's a kind kite.) I flattened the plastic bag by cutting one side and the bottom so I can open it flat.
Putting the skeleton over the flat plastic, position the spine and crossbar to fit within the confines of the plastic—also consider putting it over the part that you want to keep in your design. I strategically placed the kite over the "THANK YOU"s. Use a straightedge and a marker to trace the diamond shape around your kite.
Once you've connected all the corners and sides, draw a square above each corner. This will help you attach the sticks to the kite later. Cut your kite cover out of the plastic, using your drawings as a guide.
Fold the plastic flaps around your sticks and seal with tape. Test and make sure the tape seals the sticks enough that they will not come loose when you're trying to fly them.
Step 6 - Decorate your Kite and Give it a Tail!
Use markers to decorate your kite. I used some excess plastic to give my kite a tail. I continued using colors and symbols from the Philippine flag to decorate my flag.
Step 7 - Attach Your Strings
Tie your strings on the x marks shown in the diagram above. These strings will come together at a point. Tie them together so when you're holding them up while your kite is facedown, they make a pyramid.
*Pro-tip: If your string moves from the spot you want them in, you can tape around the sticks and string to keep them still.
Tie the point where the 3 strings intersect to a long roll of string, which you will use to fly and reel the kite in.
*BONUS: Create a reel out of a piece of 4 x 4 in. cardboard. What shape should you cut out so that the string can be easily rolled into? We created one with slits on the sides.
Now for the hardest part: Go outside and try to fly it. Try to throw it up in the sky and run to catch the wind.
Important things to consider when trying this:
- Is the wind blowing? If not, it might be better to wait for a better, windier day to attempt flying your kite.
- Watch out for cars or other people! Don't run into the street and try flying your kite when there are cars coming. It would be better to find a grassy, clear area to fly kites.
- Fly your kite with adult supervision!
- If it's still not working, consider if there's a flaw in your design. Testing helps us see if we made any errors during the making. Don't be afraid to have to go back to your workspace to fix your kite.
We’ve created a kite! Before taking the kite outside, test your kite indoors and make adjustments.
If you have a fan at home, put the kite in front of a fan and adjust the strings and the tail to get it to hold in place without fluttering. This practice of testing and adjusting is great tinkering-as-engineering and gives you a chance to learn more about the balance of forces that make a kite successfully fly.
If you don't have a fan that works well enough to test the kite's flight this way, trying waving the kite around by holding it on the Bridle Point on the string. It's not the easiest method of testing, but you'll generally know where to make adjustments to help the kite fly better.
Watch me try to fly my kite on a hot, windless day (LOL)
FOR ADULT HELPERS
Tying and attaching strings to the kite may be challenging for younger makers. Be around to support them during the kite-making process if necessary!
Once you have finished your kite, share it with friends and family. If you want to share a picture on social media, make sure to tag @reDiscoverCtr. We'd love to see your national kite!