Kite Art
      How to Run a Kite Workshop

       

      We have all have heard of stories about people who can not fly a kite. For years I have been frustrated when seeing children trying to fly a "shape" on the end of a piece of twine. Most of their creations do not fly and are quickly discarded. It is sad to realize that with the same amount of effort the children could be flying a "real" kite. That is to say, with a little planning everyone can make a kite that will really fly.

      Here are some simple guidelines.

      Try to have enough tools and materials for everyone in the class - at least have enough so you don't waste time. Tools do not have to be expensive, only functional. For example, use a hacksaw blade with taped handles as wood saws and large nails as hole punches. If working with plastic, cut with sharp scissors by sliding them along to give a clean, cut edges. Craft scissors, mainly used to cut paper, are often too blunt to cut plastic well.

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      The flying line can be purchased in bulk or in individual lengths. The "bulk-line" option (available a balloon supply and craft stores) is the cheapest but it will take time while the students wind their share on a winder. Use a "relay" method where the kid takes the line and runs about 100 feet. While the last student is winding line another is taking their place. Don't ask students to bring line unless you specify the line type. Experience has shown that you will find most of the line is too heavy for the kite. And don't use mono-filament (clear fishing) line. It is difficult to see on the flying field and can be very dangerous.

      Bridles can be made in bulk by winding flying line around a piece of cardboard several times and cutting the line at one point. Use address labels as tape. Another way to handle tape is to pre-cut pieces and attach them lightly to the edge of each desk.
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      Schedule workshops for one to two hours and start by showing a short video and passing around different kites. This helps set the atmosphere for the lesson You might consider inviting a guest to give a short talk. (Contact the American Kitefliers Association or a club in your area.) A sled kite normally takes twenty minutes to make; a diamond kite is more complicated and takes about thirty to forty minutes.

      Start the workshop by showing the finished kite before moving through the process on how to make the kite. The children will have a better grasp on what they will be making. If possible use a blackboard or have the children follow along with printed instructions. After answering any questions the class can make their kites. If anyone finishes ahead of the class ask them to help someone else. (The helper should not make the kite for the other person but assists in difficult areas.) Try to have the whole class complete their kites at the same time to create a good working atmosphere.

      Children love to test their kites as soon as they are made. If there is a storm in the area or the wind is too strong it is best to leave flying for another day.

      Finally, have the children mark their names on their kites Carry a box of marker pens for this purpose. And don't forget to have the kids clean up. Don't allow anyone to leave the class until the area is clear of scraps.

      Locate the work area where the wind does not blow the materials around and where there is room to work When space is a problem have two or more students work on one kite at a time. If desks prove too small you can always spread out onto the floor.

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      A teacher can usually handle 15 to 30 children depending on the students' skill level. Assistance will most likely be required for larger groups or special children.

      If the group is large, with too few tools, materials can be pre-cut to speed up the proceedings, It is possible to help up to three hundred people makes kites in a two-hour session if everything is prepared. All the materials, including tape, have to be pre-cut. With large groups it is also wise to make printed instructions available to the students.

      One of the most universally popular workshop kites is the sled. It is simple to make and fly. For small children you might consider making paper fold kites. They can be flown on two feet of thread attached to a balloon straw or dowel. For older children something more challenging like a box, fighter or stunt kite can be done.

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      For most teachers, the biggest factor to consider when choosing a kite to make will be the cost. Hopefully they will also consider that a kite has to fly to be a "kite." A small budget should not hinder a successful workshop, A class of thirty kites can be completed on a budget of under ten dollars..

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