One of my most favorite books is The Gift of Acabar by Og Mandino. I was introduced to it when I was a child and kept the worn, well-read copy with me throughout college. It’s the story of a young boy who uses a kite to catch a star and, in the process, learns a lot about life, love, and hope. When we go to the shore each year, that story sticks with me, because my children love to fly kites on the beach.
In fact, my oldest has become so enamored with kite flying that instead of running to the ocean, he runs to the open sand and starts assembling his dragon kite. While kite flying may seem like child’s play, it’s also a great launching pad for learning. Aerodynamics, lift, wind speed, and wind direction are all easy topics to bring up as the kite soars high in the sky.
We start by observing the flags flying along the street to the boardwalk, as well as those on top of Shriver’s (aka home of THE best salt water taffy in Ocean City and, quote possibly, the world). Which direction is the wind coming from? How can we tell? Is it a strong wind or a slight breeze?
Then it’s on to the kite itself. After flying it for a few minutes yesterday, the oldest discovered that it had been assembled slightly incorrectly. After reeling it in, he then went in to a detailed speech about how the oversight was altering the kite’s aerodynamic shape and causing air to get between the frame and the cloth which was limiting the amount of lift that it was getting. Isn’t it amazing how much they learn when they’re interested in something?
No matter how old your child is, flying a kite while on the beach is a great way to introduce some great science concepts in a kid-friendly, no-pressure sort of way. Best of all, it’s a fantastic way to build family memories.