Fair   39.0F  |  Forecast »

Teaching Kids How to Fly a Kite

This simple spring pastime builds great family memories. But first, learn how to choose the right style, find a perfect day and place – and, finally, set it soaring.

When I told my friend Amy I had never flown a kite before, she was appalled. Her family made kite flying a tradition: "Every Easter we got three things – Silly Putty, bubbles and a kite." She and her sisters would then race out back to see who could get hers flying first.

It's family memories like these that have kept Jon and Marieanne Trennepohl in business in southeast Michigan for over two decades. As owners and operators of Kites and Fun Things in Plymouth, the Trennepohls love to see beginners come to their store.

"All you need is some wind and a kite," says Jon Trennepohl. "You don't have to pay to play. It's just good, clean fun."

Choosing a kite

There are more types of kites out there than you might think, but for beginners, you really only need to worry about two: the delta kite (triangle shaped) and the diamond kite. Both are simple to assemble and fairly easy to fly. As for size, there is no "right" answer.

A bigger kite will need less wind to get going, but it will have a lot of pull. So on more windy days, small children might have a hard time hanging on. Small kites will be easier to manage once they're in the air, but might need a little more patience to get started.

Once you have your kite, Trennepohl says reading and following the directions is the most important step to getting your kite in the air.

Weather

Most people assume that the windier the day, the better the kite flying – but that's not necessarily true. It can be dangerous to fly a kite in too strong or too gusty of wind.

For beginners, Trennepohl suggests flying in a consistent light to moderate breeze of about 5 to 20 mph winds. This means you should see leaves and branches moving, but whole trees – even small ones – aren't swaying yet. Remember that the wind you feel in your neighborhood is only a fraction of what it will be in a wide-open field.

Never let your child fly his kite on a stormy, or even potentially stormy, day. Despite the example set by Benjamin Franklin, it's a recipe for disaster.

See it soar

Once you have a kite and a clear, beautiful day, actually flying your kite is the easy part. Find a wide-open space at least the size of a soccer field, free from trees and power lines – an actual soccer field works just fine.

With his back to the wind, have your child hold his kite out in front of him. On more windy days, your kite will automatically catch the wind and practically fly itself. Have him slowly unravel the line to give the kite more altitude and watch it soar. To bring it back down again, slowly wind the line back in.

If the wind isn't quite that strong, your kite might need a little help getting up in the air. Have your child hold the line while you walk the kite about 50 feet away, keeping the line taut. When your child says "Launch!" throw the kite straight up while he quickly pulls the line in, hand over hand. This will create the wind you need, much like running, but with a little more stability.

As the kite gains altitude, let the line back out. If you are still having trouble, have your child run with the kite and watch for odd movements. If the kite is spinning or swaying, it may not be assembled correctly.

Sport kiting

If the thought of your Nintendo DS-playing, dirt bike-racing child being entertained by a simple diamond kite makes you laugh, Trennepohl says there still might be hope for kiting in your future.

Sport kiting is the extreme version of kite flying, done with multiple lines on one kite. More lines allow the flier to control the movement of the kite, making it dip and dive. This version of kite flying is action-packed – and Trennepohl's personal favorite.

If you're interested in learning about sport kiting or you just want to get together with other families out testing the wind, Jon and Marianne, along with other kiters, gather Wednesdays at the south side (Six Mile Road) of Schoolcraft College in Livonia. Newcomers are always welcomed and encouraged. To learn more about the events, call Kites and Fun Things at 734-454-3760.

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Popsicle Stick Spider Web Craft with Pompom Spider

Popsicle Stick Spider Web Craft with Pompom Spider

Classic DIY materials are a cinch to transform into a darling Halloween decoration! Have kids get involved with this simple project for October.

'Breaking Bad' Action Figures Pulled from Toys R Us Shelves

'Breaking Bad' Action Figures Pulled from Toys R Us Shelves

After a Florida mom petitioned on Change.org for the toy store chain to stop selling the dolls from the AMC TV show, the toy store has agreed.

Starry Nights and Snowman Fun: Winter Crafts with Olaf, More

Starry Nights and Snowman Fun: Winter Crafts with Olaf, More

Turn a white sock or marshmallows into everyone's favorite goofball from Frozen or gear up for snowy evenings with a constellation lightbox and table runner.

Kids and Indoor Exercise During Cooler Temperatures

Kids and Indoor Exercise During Cooler Temperatures

Keep your kids off the couch this winter and get them active and healthy with these family-friendly fitness tips from the community program director at the Macomb Family YMCA.

Sage Yet Strange 1920s Baby-Naming Advice

Sage Yet Strange 1920s Baby-Naming Advice

Modern flapper era mamas had plenty of progressive advice. But when it came to baby name tips, it was a mixed bag. (And especially tough for poor Lenora!)

Dessert Pizzas Recipes That Kids Will Love

Dessert Pizzas Recipes That Kids Will Love

Slice into sweetness with these kid-friendly ideas – thanks to Betty Crocker, Taste of Home and more – that transform pizza into something oh-so-sweet!

Rustic Pumpkin Lunch Bag Halloween Craft for Kids

Rustic Pumpkin Lunch Bag Halloween Craft for Kids

Lunch surprises can brighten kids' day at school. As October rolls along, try something fun and new with this sweet, not-scary jack-o'-lantern sack.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement