We headed out this weekend for a few hours to fly a kite - a spur of the moment idea to enjoy some outdoor time on a windy day.
Have you ever gone kite flying with the kids?
It's such a great family activity for those windy, Spring afternoons :)
Flying Kites: Hands-on Science
Kite flying is one of those great science activities where the kids can experience what's happening while they have some fun.
A few of the principles that you can discuss with the kids include:
Wind pressure/force - this is needed to keep the kite in the air. Explain that flying a kite on a non-windy day is very difficult. You might be able to run with the kite and have it fly a little, but in order for a kite to stay airborne for a long period of time, it requires the force of the wind.
For a kite flying activity, the wind pressure is called lift. This lift is what counteracts the force of gravity.
Gravity - this is a basic science term that many kids will understand. Gravity is the force that pulls things toward the earth. If you toss an object into the air, gravity is what pulls it to earth UNLESS there is another force that acting on the object that is stronger than the force of gravity. In the case of kite flying, if the wind pressure is stronger than the force of gravity, your kite will fly.
Now, this also has to do with the weight of the kite. We brought two kites out on our excursion. One was a very light-weight kite (our Barbie-themed kite) and the second was a heavier one (our dragon kite).
If you have older kids/teens, you can also introduce Newton's 1st & 3rd Laws of Motion and Bernouli's Theorem for this activity. And yes, teens do still fly kites -- our 15-year-old enjoyed some kite flying during our afternoon too.
It took almost no effort to send the Barbie kite up in the air and it flew for quite a long time. The dragon kite was much more of a challenge. After many attempts, we finally got it airborne - woo hoo!
But it didn't fly nearly as high as the Barbie kite.
So another great discussion with the kids -- the weight of the object also needs to be considered when you're talking about wind pressure and gravity. Remember your basic physics from high school -- the weight of an object is dependent on it's mass and our dragon kite had a larger mass than our Barbie kite.
One tip: Hold on tight!
My daughter lost her grip on a few occasions and we were chasing the kite because the wind kept blowing it. This concept (if you dare let the kite go) can help kids understand that the reason the kite stays in one general place once it's in the sky is because it's tethered by the string you're holding.
Thanks to my husband's wonderful camera shots, you can see our kite flying adventure from the point of view of our daughter.
We had a great time!
Fun Kite Flying Books for Kids
Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links for your convenience.
Of course, I wanted to share some fun kite books! Share a few of these with the kids once you return how from your kite flying adventures!
A Kite Day (Bear and Mole) follows the antics of Bear and Mole on a windy day as they construct and head out to fly their own kite.
Kite Flying is a beautiful story by Grace Lin about a family who creates their own dragon kite and then enjoys a day of flying. I love the colorful illustrations in the book.
Our favorite monkey is getting into more trouble! Curious George Flies a Kite is a classic -- kids will laugh and enjoy all the crazy things that happen when George tries to enjoy a day of kite flying.
Ben Franklin is famous for his discovery of electricity using a kite. Kids can learn how a young Ben started his kite adventures in Ben Franklin and His First Kite .
Let's Fly a Kite is a fun math-activity book for kids. The story discusses the symmetry of a kite and how important cooperation is when doing a project with friends.
If you're looking for a kite, here's a few you may enjoy:
These are inexpensive, light-weight kites that are easy to put together and get up in the air. Kids can enjoy these even on a day with a light wind. Great if you're looking for a kite with easy storage and one that can be flown at your local park.
These amazing kites will look beautiful in the air but remember my brief discussion about gravity and mass/weight. You'll need a good strong wind and some running space in order to launch some of these larger kites but you'll be rewarded if you're up for the challenge!
If you're creative, check out this great post on How to Make Your Own Kite - they made a super cool kite!
MORE OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES:
How to Turn your Backyard into a Science Lab: 20 Awesome Experiments!
Wishing you some high-flying fun!