I am big fan of the simple toys for children, traditional toys allow for so much more creativity, play that is powered by imagination rather than AAA or AA batteries (which Santa forgot at Christmas last year but that is another story…..) It is good be reminded of a world pre-plastic when children had less external stimulation and the basic things were what they had to play with. They were probably more ‘eco’ too in the material choices since a lot of modern toys have a plastic element.
Our youngest son, aged 4, spent much time on holiday on the beaches in North Devon enjoying the simplicity of his kite. He was so interested in how it was constructed with the thread and sticks holding the shape and the awe in seeing it in the sky with the ribbons fluttering underneath. His kite had a rocket design so hearing him shout “5,4,3,2,1….blast off!” then launching it up and laughing as the wind carried it up was delightful!
Kites fly highest against the wind, not with it.
This is quote made famously by Winston Churchhill. I think that children who find satisfaction and have gratitude for a simple kite can learn to be content with what they have. There is something quite powerful about holding a kite and being anchored to the ground looking up at the sky in mystery and wonder as it flies. This will help children when perhaps they do come across uncertainly to be resilient even against the wind and know they are firm on the ground and in control of the kite they are flying. Given these uncertain times we are living in, this is even more important for children to have these experiences. I hope my children will be able to stand firm in life and fly high.
A kite would make a really love Eco gift for perhaps a grandchild or to take on a family holiday. Many kites are made from polyester material, because it’s strong, durable and doesn’t rip easily. I’ve also seen kites made from recycled carrier bags which is a fun project. I like this idea, but in a good way we don’t actually have all that many plastic bags lying around at home anymore since the push for supermarkets to get rid of them. That is a real eco win for society! I would also be concerned about them ripping with the power of the wind, then littering the ground if they can’t then can’t be disposed of responsibly. Traditionally kites were simply made from paper, like in the Mary Poppins film, so I thought I’d have a go at making an Eco paper Kite.
You will need:
- 2 wooden dowels or strong sticks from the garden, one slightly shorter than the other
- Some twine of string about 20cm long
- Kite string on a reel
- Thick paper, I used FSC sourced wrapping paper with a fun design but you can decorate your own with some brightly coloured pens
- Crepe paper ribbon
- Brown paper tape
- Scissors, pencil and ruler
Start by tying the two sticks together using the twine in what is called a square lashing knot. Starting with a clove hitch around one pole. You can follow the instructions from annimatedknots.com. This makes it really secure.
Next, use kite string to make a knot on each of the ends of sticks and tie it to make a diamond shape, making the frame of the kite. Pull the string so it is taught as this will help keep the kite shape.
Lay out the paper on a flat surface, with the pattern facing downwards and lay the frame on the top.
Draw around the frame. Then, using the scissors, cut out the kite shape leaving a 3cm margin around the edge.
Fold over the edges of the kite and secure down over the frame with strips of the brown tape, pattern facing up.
Cut a piece of kite string that is 20cm long and tie it in a double knot at the top and at the bottom of the vertical pole.
Next tie the rest of the remaining kite string to the centre of the loop. It should look like this:
Finally add some paper ribbons on the sides and the bottom like streamers. This makes sure there is enough drag to make the kite fly.
I’ve really enjoyed this little eco kite project with the added bonus of remembering some of the great knotting techniques too that I learnt as a Brownie! With windy weather forecast this week, this could be a great Eco activity to do with children and a wonderful Eco gift. I’d love to see your kites!