Objective: By completing this activity the students should be able to: Understand basic
information about the Beaufort Scale, Identify what type of wind is best to fly different
kite designs, and create their own kite.
Materials: kite patterns and instruction (A. G. Bell Kite, Adelino's Philippine Kite, Arrow
Kite, Bird Kite, Chinese Kite, Cylindrical Kite, Four Sheet Kite, Half Sheet Kite, Kelly
Improved Kite, Octopus Kite, Scott Sled Kite, Triangle Box Kite), kite flying tips and
rules, kite tail pattern, kite string (1 roll per student), Beaufort scale, colored paper -
regular copier paper works best, pencils, markers, art materials, scissors and tape, ruler
(1 per student), paper clips
Background: Historians believe that the Chinese flew the very first kites more than
three thousand years ago. At first they made them by stretching silk over bamboo
frames; later they covered the frames with paper and decorated the kites with winderful
colors and designs. The Japanese, the Koreans, and the Egyptians were other early kite
While kites have always been flown for fun, they have also been used for military
signaling, in religious festivals, and for science experiments. In 1752 Benjamin Franklin
flew a kite during a thunderstorm to prove that there was electricity in storm clouds. The
electricity in the stormy atmosphere struck the line of the kite and traveled down to a
brass key tied onto it. It caused a spark and proved to Benjamin Franklin that his theory
Lawrence Hargrave invented the first model box kite in 1893. Box kites have been used
to predict the weather. From 1898 to 1933 the National Weather Service maintained kite
stations, which flew box kites equipped with thermometers and other weather-measuring
Kites can be made from many different materials, including paper, cloth, plastic, nylon
and Mylar. There are five basic designs of kites:
1) Bowed kits don't need tails; their surfaces are curved to create an angle to the wind.
Bowed kites are also known as Eddy kites.
2) Flat kites need tails to direct them and keep them pointed toward the sky.
3) Delta kites are triangular and can be flown when there isn't much wind.
4) Flexible kites are designed to form different shapes when the wind fills them.
5) Box kites are three-dimensional. When wings are added to a box kite, the result is
called a compound kite.
Make copies of the Beaufort Scale - one per student. Give each student a copy and
review how winds are rated. Explain that the class will be making kites and that they will
need to refer to the Beaufort Scale to determine what type of wind is blowing outside
when they fly their kite.
Review the kite patterns. The kites range from easy to make to very challenging. You
may want to pre-determine which student gets which kite. The kite pattern is separate
from the instructions. Make a copy of the one pattern for every student, based on the set
of instructions the student chooses (or you choose). Hand out a set of instructions and a
copy of the correlating kite pattern to each student. Note: some kites do not have a tail.
There is a separate tail pattern for those kites that do not already have a tail. This pattern
is included in the section with the kite patterns.
Give each student a copy of the "Kite Flying Tips and Rules" sheet included with these
instructions. Carefully review with class.
Give each student several pieces of colored paper. Regular copier paper works best -
heavier paper such as construction, card stock or poster board seems to be too heavy
for the kite to fly.
Stress to each student that careful measurements are a must. All folds must be as
straight and as sharp as possible. Follow the instructions and patterns carefully. Most
kites should be symmetrical.
Encourage students to decorate their kites with a favorite weather or wind symbol.
To help demonstrate wind direction, have your class construct spinning weathervanes:
Material List - cardboard, scissors, wooden stick, pencil, cotton balls, tin foil, paints (or
markers/crayons), glue, and straws.
Directions: sketch the outline of a rooster on the cardboard and cut it out. Paint or color
both sides. Draw and cut out an arrow shape and cover it with tin foil. Glue the arrow to
the bottom of the rooster. Glue a straw to the bottom of the rooster and plug the top end
with a cotton ball. Place a thin stick inside the straw. Push the stick into the ground. Now
the weathervane can spin in the wind.
Comic books, especially action comics, are full of onomatopoeias. Have each student
make an onomatopoeia list of words that describe the sounds of the wind. Then have
them make a comic book or strip using their word list. Display on a "blustery" bulletin
Visit the Miami Museum of Science web site. Go to the section on observing wind. Have
students explore each segment to discover information on wind speeds, hurricanes and
SD Standards for 4th grade:
4.R.1.1; 4.R.1.2; 4.R.2.3; 4.R.5.1;
Classroom & Outdoors
Observation, Deduction, Critical
Prior Preparation: Encourage
students to read "Earth's Wild Winds"
by Sandra Friend and "Earthmaker's
Tales" by Gretchen Mayo to gather
information about wind. During the
lesson, play the "Windsong" CD by
Dan Gibson to promote discussion of
different types of winds.