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Lets go fly a cheap, homemade kite
August 25, 2009 5:57 AM   Subscribe

I need a basic, cheap kite plan that can be easily built by kids.

My work is putting on a kite building workshop/ kite flying afternoon. I'm not opposed to buying cheap materials (under $10 per kite) in bulk for about 25 people, but I'd rather use household materials, (especially newspaper if possible). I've found lots of kite blueprints but they're geared towards hobbyists. I want simplicity. The flat, diamond shape will be fine as long as it'll fly, is easy to build, and is cheap.
posted by Brodiggitty to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Lifehacker had a post about kites and one of their suggestions is: The complete time tested instructions to get 20 kids making their own kites and flying them in 20 minutes. There are more suggestions on David Gomberg's kite education page.
posted by jessamyn at 6:03 AM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't go with the classic diamond or Box kites -- they're hard to fly, need lots of tweaking. The best, in terms of flyability, is the Delta Box, more properly known as the Delta-Conyne. It's a fairly complex build, though.

The simpliest to build and fly is the Sled. However, it does require that the two spars be attached correctly. It's also pretty sensitive to winds -- too strong, and you either need big tails or it power dives. Not enough, it sits there.

A little harder to build and almost as easy to fly (though they don't deal with stronger winds as well as the Delta Box) is the plain Delta. Deltas are great kites.

The Delta is only sightly harder to build than the Diamond, but is vastly easier to get flying. If you really want the classic Charlie Brown kite shape, you'll want to build the Eddy. The trick to the Eddy is not the bowing of the cross stick, it's the looser cover, between the bow and the loose cover, the surface takes on a stable shape in the air. It's a little simpler to build that the delta, but a littler harder to rig (you have to get the bowstring tension set, then get the bridle point set.)

This is assuming, of course, that the end goal is a bunch of kids flying kites that they've built.

The hardest part of constructing the kite is cutting out the fabric or paper. Having that done beforehand will save a bunch of time. The cheapest kite material of all that really works and really lasts is Tyvek. For strong winds, you can buy a truly huge amount of it from any home improvement store. What do I mean by huge? Home Depot has a 9 foot by 100 foot roll from $106 -- basically, 11 cents a square foot. However, this is heavy weight grade of Tyvek, so for small kites, it won't work as well in light winds. However, the beauty of Tyvek is that you can glue it, you can tape it -- indeed, you can get Tyvek tape right next to the Tyvek rolls.

You can get lighterweight Tyvek from kite making supply stores, but it isn't quite as cheap Into The Wind has 5' x 20 yard rolls at $3.50 a yard, or $70 a roll, which works out to .70 cents a square foot. But it'll be blank, and it'll make a kite that flies in light winds and lasts.
posted by eriko at 6:36 AM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just want to second the link in jessamyn's post - my boyfriend's a teacher and he just did a kite-building project with groups of 5 to 8 year olds using that plan. They were really easy to build, and the kites actually flew impressively well (I had my doubts initially because the directions looked so simple).

The materials are really inexpensive - you could probably get away with $10-20 for the entire project. Don't forget crayons or markers though, as coloring the kites was half the fun for the kids.
posted by Fifi Firefox at 8:45 AM on August 25, 2009


Check out these sites
AKA- American Kitefliers Association. Kites in the classroom
KONE- Kites Over New England
Virtual kites
El Cheapo diamond kit plans
posted by Gungho at 9:30 AM on August 25, 2009


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