When coronavirus was declared a pandemic in early 2020, many activities came to a near standstill. For most people around the world, life was reduced to coerced or voluntary home isolation. With playdates, team sports, and kids’ parties prohibited, parents had to look for new ways to keep their young ones entertained.
Now there’s one outdoor activity many families have turned to—kite-flying. A popular pastime, flying kites offers loads of fun while also presenting the perfect opportunity to get your kids outdoors. It’s now become a mainstream activity for children, and a source of income for many families hit hard by the effects of the ongoing pandemic.
In Gaza, you’ll find kids flying kites all around the city. One of the residents, Ahmed Marzouk, makes a decent living by building and selling kites. Egypt shares a similar tale as giant kites are often spotted sailing across its capital city’s skies. Mumbai is another example where this activity has taken the city by its storm. Ahsan Khan, who sells kites in the city, explains how his sales skyrocketed within just 5 months. In previous years, he barely made any sales between April and August. But in 2020, his sales hit the 500,000 mark within the same period.
If you haven’t introduced your children to kite-flying, it’s not too late. To kick things off, we’ve provided a detailed guide highlighting the best kites for kids, the different types that exist, how to fly them, and much more.
Why fly kites
Kite flying is simple, fun and it packs a ton of health benefits. Here are a few reasons why you should introduce your child to this activity:
- It boosts creativity. If your child has opted for a homemade kite, they’ll have to think about the design they wish to create. They also get to work with a variety of colors, paints, materials, and more. All these are activities that boost their imagination.
- It’s a bonding opportunity. If you’ve been looking for ways to spend more time with your kids, kite flying might be the ultimate family activity. Building a brand new kite with them, training them how to fly one, and driving them to a park where they can fly their kites are all activities that will strengthen the bond between you and your children.
- It’s a healthy experience. Getting your child to exercise can be a tall order, especially when they’re glued to their screens. The secret is to find activities that feel less like workouts and more like a fun pastime, like kite flying. The act of merely getting them outdoors is an achievement. It means they’ll be exposed to some sunshine, which is good because it provides the much-needed vitamin D. All the running they have to do to create that initial force one needs to help the kite soar offers them a great cardio workout.
Types of kites
Have you ever attended a kite festival? If you have, you probably noticed numerous types of kites. Kites differ significantly based on their design, color scheme, and shape. Here’s a rundown of the most popular types:
This is probably the most common kite, and with good reason. It’s effortless to build. At its core, this kite only consists of one vertical bar and one horizontal one, usually made from either wood or fiberglass.
If you choose to buy a kite instead of making one from scratch, you’ll still find that diamond kites are cheaper than other models. Another thing that makes diamond kites a favorite for kids is the ease of launching them. But before you go flying one of these with your child, consider pairing it with a tail. It makes the kite a lot more stable.
This kite assumes a triangular shape with a keel, which helps to keep the spine straight. The design allows your kid to fly it in different climatic conditions, including low winds. Unlike diamond kites, delta kites are easy to fly even if they lack tails. But having a tail makes for a more smooth sailing experience.
Commonly known as foil kites, these are slightly different from the first 2 we’ve looked at. This kite resembles a parachute. However, the main difference is the fact it doesn’t have a frame. Thanks to its design, a parafoil kite is more forgiving than other types; you can crash it multiple times into the ground, and it won’t come apart.
So if your child is starting to learn how to fly a kite and can’t seem to get the hang of it, a parafoil kite is the best option.
What we also love about this kite is that it has a one-piece design that is made of several tiny components, unlike others. This build makes it less likely for your child to lose any parts of the kite.
Although this is not as popular as the diamond or delta, you may still come across it. It has a three-dimensional design and can take on a variety of shapes.
A box kite, which consists of 4 parallel struts, falls under this classification. Its design, which includes several frames, requires stronger winds to launch and stay afloat. As such, it’s only suitable for older kids who already have some kite-flying experience.
As you might have guessed from the name, stunt kites are designed to perform tricky maneuvers in the air. To achieve this, the kites are equipped with several lines to offer more control. Quad-line kites are the best case in point.
The kite structure enables you to control the wing’s angle relative to the wind and, subsequently, all flight features. The features include speed, direction, and more. You’ll be able to move your kite forward, reverse, make an abrupt stop, and hover in mid-air as well fly your kite sideways.
Buying kites for kids
Are you planning to buy kites for kids? Here are a few factors you should consider:
Pick a kite that’s appropriate for your child’s age and skill level.
- Single-line kites (age 3+) – If your child has just turned 3 or is about this age, a single-line kite is the best option. It has one line, which makes it easy to hold onto and navigate. But if your child still struggles to hold onto it, you can tie the flying line to their belt loop and leave the kite to work its magic.
- Dual-like kites (age 7+) – For slightly older kids, a dual-line kite is a better alternative. It allows them to perform some basic tricks like spinning the kite from left to right.
- Quad-line kites (age 12+) – Flying this kite is similar to flying a remote control helicopter. With 4 strings, your child will be able to navigate the kite in every direction and do so with precision. That said, keeping track of 4 strings requires excellent attention to detail, which is why these kites are recommended for older kids.
To determine the right size, there are a few things you should take into account. The most important of these are your child’s age and strength of the wind. It goes without saying that for younger kids, a smaller kite is the best choice because it’s easier to navigate.
But determining the correct kite size might not be as straightforward based on the wind factor. Ideally, a small kite with a sturdy brindle is best suited for strong winds, whereas more giant kites do better in light wind.
Does that mean you should purchase a kite for every wind condition? Well, not quite. Instead, you ought to research the wind statistics of the particular location where your child will be flying a kite frequently. For instance, if they prefer to fly it around the beach, look up the wind conditions of that area and buy a kite suited for those wind conditions.
Given that you’re buying kites for kids, you’ll also want to pay attention to the design. Don’t be afraid to choose kites with bright and bold colors. Remember, the most exciting bit for your child is watching it fly away. So it’s only fair that the kite has a fancy and colorful design to look at.
The 3 best kites for kids
How to make a kite
Do you want to make the kite flying experience even more fun for your kids? Why not try building one from scratch? Here’s a quick tutorial to train your child how to make a kite:
- 1 complete sheet of newspaper or lightweight drawing paper
- Two ¼ inch circular wooden dowels or bamboo sticks (let one be 24 inches and the other 20 inches)
- A pair of scissors
- Packing or masking tape
- Yarn and ribbons
- Small-sized handsaw
- If the dowels aren’t in the recommended size, start by cutting them to these lengths. Use a ruler to measure 20 inches and 24 inches, then cut away the excess length.
- Create notches on the ends of the dowels using the handsaw. If you’re making the kite with your kids, do this step yourself for safety.
- Place the 24 inch dowel vertically on a flat surface, then measure 6 inches from the top. Use the marker to note the 6 inch point.
- Now place the 20 inch dowel across the 24 inch dowel, right above the point you marked. This should bring the two dowels to form a lowercase “t” shape. Another way to know if you’ve done this correctly is to check whether the two dowels form a 90° angle at their intersection point. Also, ensure that there are equal widths on either side of the t-shape.
- Secure the dowels together at the point where they meet. You can use either a string or masking tape or both.
- Build the frame by running a string all around the edges of the dowels. Ensure the string passes through the notches you made earlier.
- With your frame done, the only thing left is to add the newspaper sheet. Lay the paper on the floor, then place the frame on top. Cut your newspaper to the length of the frame, making sure to leave an extra inch of space on the newspaper.
- Using the extra newspaper, fold it over the string frame, then use masking tape to secure it.
- Cut a piece of string about 24 inches in length.
- Make holes at the top and bottom of your kite. Pass this string from the top hole to the bottom hole, ensuring that it runs along the edge of the 24 inch dowel. This is what will form the brindle of your kite.
- Finally, tie this brindle string to your flying string, and voila! Now all you need to do is find a windy setting and fly it.
How to fly kites
Before taking to the sky, there are 2 things you should consider: location and weather conditions.
- Location – The best place to fly a kite is in a wide, open space about the size of a football field. It means that it shouldn’t be close to any trees, power lines, tall buildings, or other obstacles that could be an obstruction.
- Weather – A common question asked by beginners is, “How much wind do you need to fly a kite?” Well, all you need is a light to moderate breeze, averaging a speed of 5-20 mph. In this condition, the leaves and branches should be moving, but no trees should be swaying. Keep in mind that winds are stronger in an open space than in your home/neighborhood. Don’t let your child fly their kites in very windy conditions. Not only is it risky, but your child may also end up losing their kites because the winds are too strong.
Easy steps to flying a kite
And now to the fun part of actually flying a kite!
- Stand with your back to the wind and slowly let the line out. If it’s windy, your kite will fly itself.
- If it’s not windy enough, you’ll have to give it a little bit of a boost. To do this, allow the kite to fly away for just a short distance and then pull in on the line.
- As your kite starts gaining altitude, let the line back out. Repeat this process until you’re satisfied that your kite is flying at the altitude you’d like.
An old-school pastime, flying kites makes for an excellent family-bonding activity. It’s economical, and it affords kids just as much fun as they’d get from more expensive activities.
More importantly, it boosts your child’s creativity and helps them get the much-needed exercise. So what are you waiting for? Head outdoors and find the perfect spot to fly the best kites for kids.