Springtime Fun with the Kids

Growing YearsEven though Spring does not officially arrive until the Spring Equinox on March 20th, I always consider March a Spring month. Spring means sunshine, wind, tulips, windmills, and kites. It is the time for flying kites. Three kite designs to purchase in stores are:

⦁ The Sode kite: Known as the Kimono kite, for its resemblance to the Japanese garment. It is a great light kite that gains height easily. The Japanese originals fly without tails, and use Washi paper for the sails. The rectangular areas of sail make a good canvas for artistic designs.

⦁ The Barn Door kite: Shaped like a barn door these kites are very much at home in fresh breezes, although flown with tails, larger barn door kites are able to fly tail-less, at least in light to moderate winds.

⦁ The Diamond kite: The word ‘kite’ is almost synonymous with the shape ‘diamond’. With accurately made modern materials, Diamond kites can have quite a good wind range, although they don’t necessarily fly at very steep line angles. These types of kites have a basic reliability and idiot-proof nature, making them very popular.

You can make a kite with your child that will be treasured forever, along with the memory (don’t forget to take a picture for keepsake). For those who have forgotten how to make a simple diamond kite, or never had the pleasure to do so, here is a reminder:

The terminology: The Spine is the up-and-down stick. The Spar is the support stick(s), which are placed crossways over the spine. The Frame is the joined (with a string) spine and spars that form the shape of the kite. The Cover is the paper, plastic, or cloth that covers the frame. The Bridle is one or more strings attached to the spine or spars to control the kite in the air. The Flying Line is the string running from the kites’ bridle. The Tail is long strips that help balance the kite in flight (not all kites need tails). The Reel winds the flying line, keeping it untangled or from flying away.

You will need a cord or thin garden twine, tape or glue, 1 sheet of strong paper (40in. x 40in.), 2 strong, straight wooden sticks, or dowels 35in and 40in., and paint or crayons to decorate you kite.

⦁ Make a cross with the two sticks, with the shorter stick placed horizontally across the longer stick. Make sure that both sides of the cross piece is equal in width.

⦁ Tie the two sticks together with a string in such a way as to make sure that they are at right angles to each other. A good way to ensure that the joint is strong to use a dab of glue to stick it in place.

⦁ Cut a notch at each end of both sticks. Make it deep enough for the type of string you are using to fit in it. Cut a piece of string long enough to stretch all around the kite frame. Make a loop in the top notch and fasten it by wrapping the string around the stick. Stretch the string through the notch at one end of the cross-piece, and make another loop at the bottom. Stretch the string through the notch at one end of the loop at the bottom. Stretch

⦁ the string through the notch at the other end of the cross-piece. Finish by wrapping the string a few times around the top of the stick and cutting off what you don’t need. The string frame must be taut, but not so tight as to warp the sticks.

⦁ Lay the sail material flat and place the stick frame face down on top. Cut around it, leaving about 1 to 2 inches for a margin. Fold the edges over the string frame and tape or glue it down so that the material is tight.

⦁ Cut a piece of string about 48in. long. and tie one end to the loop at the other end of the string to the loop at the bottom. Tie another small loop in the string just above the intersection of the two cross pieces. This will be the kite’s bridle, the string to which the flying line is attached.

⦁ Make a tail by tying a small ribbon roughly every 3 to 4 inches along the length of string. Attach the tail to the loop at the bottom of the kite.

⦁ Decorate!