Flying a kite is probably the most exhilerating experiences a child can have. A sense of pride, joy and accomplishment washes over them as their eyes watch this object they built fly into the sky. They smell the great outdoors as their hands feel the vibrations from the wind helping their kite fly. It is thrilling, sensational, and a feeling that every child (and adult) should experience at some point in their childhood.
In the simple act of decorating, assembling and flying a kite you are participating in a tradition that transcends time and place, and that represents the most human desire to touch the sky. Kites have been around for almost 2500 years. An invention of ancient China, they have been used for activities as diverse as flying, measuring wind, military communication, artistic expression, and to have plain old-fashioned fun.
April is National Kite Month, and a perfect time to think about all the great things kites bring to our lives.
Kite making is one of the most pan-cultural practices out there, and that makes it a beautiful, democratic thing. In many ways, it’s a global property — we all own the relationship between us and the sky.
Here are our top 5 Reasons Why Kites Matter:
Kites have important cultural significance in countries around the world.
Kite making is a tradition that goes back thousands of years, and for many people practicing this craft is a way to honor their heritage and cross-cultural upbringing. For example the Chinese dragon kite, or centipede, is such a special kind of kite in China it can only be made by highly trained craftsmen. The head of the dragon represents the best melding of function and beauty, of art and technology. It is so interwoven with Chinese culture that a study of dragon kites can lead to considerable understanding of Chinese culture. Kiting is an important tradition throughout Asia, South Asia and the Middle East, and can be an engaging and original avenue for children to share their cultures.
Kites are a powerful form for artistic expression.
Artists around the world create kites to tell stories, explore ideas, commune with the gods, and even to make political statements. In many cultures, kites are considered an art form as beautiful as painting and as dynamic as music. Master craftspeople pour hundreds of hours and the most valuable materials into making fine kites. There are so many aspects to making kites to explore – the materials, shapes, colours and designs are an invitation to the imagination, and the human desire to do the impossible. Anna Rubin’s stunning creations are a stunning example of just how beautiful kites can be.
Kiters learn to be attuned to nature.
Kites are an example of how humans harness the forces of nature that everyone can understand. This observation can lead in the investigation of the use of energy in the past, the present and the future. Before the widespread use of electricity, fossil fuels or the steam engine, the wind was one of the most-used forms of energy. Consider wind mills for the grinding of grain and sailing ships as the primary means of global transport. What role can a return to wind power play in a post fossil fuel age?
Flying a kite means slowing down to observe the feel of wind on your face, the movement of tree tops, and the details of the ground you are standing on. More experienced fliers will start to notice the rhythms of the wind throughout the days, and then the seasons, and before long you will find yourself thinking about the potential for flying a kite everywhere you look.
Kites naturally engage you in scientific thinking.
Kites obey the physical laws of nature, which suggests that kite designs, kite materials, and kite flying can be enhanced by applying physics to kites. On the other hand, kites themselves have been used to discover the laws of nature for a long time. The experience of assembling and flying a kite teaches so many important scientific principles that are part of our everyday lives: lift, thrust, drag and gravity, Bernoulli’s principle, Newton’s laws of motion etc.
Kiting makes us all into engineers and scientists – making careful observations, problem solving, testinging, and then trying all over again to grow our understanding of how things work. In fact, kiting is the ultimate STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) project, since it engages all disciplines at once! Check out our STEAM Guidebook for an easy project.
Kites are fun for people of all ages and abilities.
There is a kite for every skill level – from a simple sled design or traditional diamond kite, to multi-line acrobatic kites, to kite surfing! There are even kites that can fly inside. They can range in price from a few dollars to several thousand.
Kiting activities celebrate diversities, strengthen social inclusion, and promote peer-to-peer communication and team building. And we have seen over and over just how much kiting can help with mental health emotional intelligence development.
A celebration featuring kites is a low cost, high impact opportunity to bring members of a community together to have fun, work together, and just be a kid, no matter how old you are.
Put simply, kites have this amazing ability to lift our spirits and put a great big smile on our faces.