Monthly Archives: May 2014

Making a Kite

A few weekends ago I took my kids to a great kite festival in a near-by small town.  It was amazing!  There were huge kites, small kites, kite flying demonstrations, and even professional kite flyers!  Although the kite festival was really fun, there was one, small snag.


The organizers of the event advertised that kids would be able to make their own kites.  This was the big draw for my kids, so as soon as we got out of the car, we made a beeline for the kite making station!  Imagine our excitement when we were the second family in line!

Then, imagine our frustration as we continued to stand in the line for the next 30 minutes.  The problem?  The kite builders were trying to have each of the children literally build. a. kite.  They had purchase dowel rods and parachute fabric. The idea was this . . . use a saw to cut the dowel rods.  Then, use a very teeny, tiny drill to drill holes at the ends of said dowel rods.  Next, tape the dowels together in a “+” and string tread through the holes to make the outline of the kite.  Finally, cut a piece of parachute fabric to cover the dowels and the edge of the kite and sew a hem around the entire perimeter of the kite with needle and thread.

Now, I have to say the up side of all of this?  The kites were legit kites . . . they probably would have actually flown!  The down side?  Every single child in line was under the age of 10 (interpretation–no one could do this on their own).  The station was set up so that only one child at a time could make the kites.

Finally, I leaned down to my kids and said . . . “Let’s go to a craft store, I’ll get the stuff to make the kites and we can do this at home!”

I made this offer numerous times, and about the 4th or 5th time I offered/begged them to get out of line, they finally agreed!

Now, we were going to make our own kites!  I headed to a craft store to get the supplies (which, by the way they don’t have parachute fabric!) and ended up with three, 36″ dowel rods, some fabric, and kite string.  We were ready to start making the kites!

Now, when you use the term “kite” it can mean many, many things.  There are kites like the kinds we saw flying that day, there are geometric shapes called kites, and there are kite graphs.  For this post I’m talking about kites that fly, but that are also in the shape of the geometric figure called a kite.

The definition of a kite is: a convex quadrilateral with two adjacent, congruent sides (length a) and two other congruent, adjacent sides (length b).  A rhombus is a special case of the kite.  The diagonals of a kite and perpendicular to each other, and one of the diagonals bisects the other diagonal.

I couldn’t make a rhombus kite, because I only had 3 dowels and two kids who wanted kites of their own.  And, it’d be really nice to only have to cut one of the dowels, instead of all 3 of them. Meaning, I’d like each of the kites to have one of the diagonals be length 36.”  The length of the other diagonal was up for debate, however . . .as long as it was at most 18″.  So, here’s what I knew . . .

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 11.40.54 AM

blue = dowel rods

red = string

So, I’m wondering . . . given these parameters what would you design the kite to look like?  How could you minimize the amount of string needed?  What about the amount of fabric needed to cover the entire kite?