How to Fly a Kite With Your Kids
Soaring through the air on a gentle breeze -- there's nothing better than flying a kite with your kids.
Teaching your child how to fly a kite is right up there with tossing a baseball around -- it's a classic activity that's perfect for bonding and spending time together. But getting this contraption off the ground isn't as easy as it seems. The right shape and wind conditions play a big role, but you'll need a good deal of patience, too.
Learning how to fly a kite can take several attempts over the course of a weekend, so set aside some time to practice this ancient craft. "Not only is flying a kite a great family activity in which the generations work together, but it's also physically satisfying as you work with the wind and feel the string pull on your fingers," explains Richard Gottlieb, the founder of Global Toy Experts.
Flying a kite also gives kids a chance to be outside and get some exercise. "Physical play helps children burn off excess energy, relieve stress and it promotes better eating and sleeping habits," points out Adrienne Appell, a trend specialist at the Toy Industry Association.
Here's what you need to know to get that kite up in the air and flying right:
- Choose a Good Spot
Pick a wide open space in a park, field or yard, away from trees and houses. Trees are especially annoying as the string can become tangled around branches, making it nearly impossible to free the kite.
- Start to Launch
Divide up the duties when you start to fly the kite: one of you can hold the ball of string and the other can take charge of the kite. Position yourself so that the wind is at your back with the kite facing you. Unwind 50 to 60 feet of string between you and your child and then have the person with the kite release it into the air.
- Reel it Out (and in)
As the kite climbs higher into the sky, let out some more string. Unwrap it and allow it to go as high as you think you and your child can handle. Take turns bringing the kite closer and then letting it travel out again.
- Make it Fun
Add in a few games as you fly the kite together. Time each other to see who can keep it up the longest or count how many circles or dips the kite makes in the air.
- Consider the Shape and Size
The easiest kites to navigate in light winds are often triangle- or delta-shaped. You could also try a diamond or small box or sled type. Bigger kites require more strength to control them, so hand larger versions off to older kids. Two-line kites are built to do stunts and tricks, so stick to single-line flyers for beginners.
- Gauge the Wind
Seek out gentle breezes, rather than gale-force winds when you first begin flying a kite with your child. Look for leaves dancing along the grass -- this is the kind of movement that will help your kite stay aloft.
- Remember, be Safe!
Never fly a kite near power lines, airports, busy roads or in any kind of inclement weather. Electricity in stormy clouds can be attracted to the kite's line and travel along it, causing severe or even fatal shocks.
Keep in mind that allowing your child play with a simple kite by himself is going to be more fun for him than having him watch you fly a larger, more complicated style. And take cues from your child, too. If he seems frustrated by this activity, put the kite aside and try it again another day.
And check out these 101 Outdoor Activities for Kids.
Jennifer Kelly Geddes is a New York-based writer and editor who specializes in parenting, health and child development. She's a frequent contributor to Care.com and the mom of two teen girls.