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Flying a kite isn't only fun, it's very beneficial!

5 Interesting Ways Your Child Benefits from Flying a Kite

Have you flown a kite with your child yet this spring? My kids got kites for Easter from my mom, and we’ve spent a couple of lazy afternoons trying to keep them in the air.

Flying a kite isn’t only fun, it’s also beneficial. In addition to the obvious gross motor skills, your child is working on several key areas. But before we dive into those benefits, let’s talk about what you’ll need for a successful kite flying adventure.

Before Setting Out to Fly a Kite

Of course you’ll need a kite! The cheap ones from Walmart work just fine. But, if you have younger kids, be sure to get the diamond shaped kites.

Those are way more aerodynamic than the round ones, so your child will have an easier time flying.

You’ll also need a safe place. We head up to our upper field, because there aren’t any power lines or kite eating trees :D.

Make sure it’s a windy day. We wait until our flag is flying fairly horizontally before heading out.

Water is also essential, especially if it’s a warm day. Bring a couple of bottles along so you all stay hydrated.

Once you’re at your ideal location, help your kids get their kites up. My littles enjoy just running while holding onto the string, while my middles and big actually do quite well at getting the kites in the air. While they’re flying, your kids will be learning the following skills:

1. Understanding of Aerodynamics

Different shaped kites react differently to the wind. If you have a couple of different shapes, let your kids experiment with them and describe the experience with each.

Regardless of kite shape, your child will be feeling the wind interact with the kite and the string. As they move, the kite moves. The more they fly, the better handle they’ll get on how to play the kite in the wind to keep it up.

If your child likes to run to launch the kite, she’ll also be learning about wind direction and speed–both important to aerodynamics.

2. Problem Solving

Kite flying doesn’t always go as planned! Sometimes the kites take a nosedive, the string tangles, or a little sibling comes over and pulls on the string.

When these problems occur, children must stop and assess the situation. Sometimes they need to ask for help. Other times, they can solve the problem themselves.

Problem solving is one of those soft skills that’s so important in life!

3. Concentration

With all the digital stimuli in the world today, kite flying offers a chance for children to concentrate on something real. There are no screens. Its just you, the kites, and the big blue sky.

Concentrating on keeping it flying will help your child extend his attention span. You can slowly increase the amount of time you’re out.

4. Self-Confidence

When my three-year-old got his in the air for the first time, he was thrilled! He quickly learned that he could do it, and didn’t want any help after that.

As your children fly a kite, they’re gaining confidence in their own abilities. It’s an amazing feeling to be in control of something way up in the air. And you feel like soaring right along with it!

5. Attention to Detail

When the kites get high in the air, tracking them takes more attention. As the wind switches direction, your child will have to make adjustments to keep it up.

While winding in the string, your child will have to watch to make sure no weeds snag the kite and make a hole in it.

All of these tasks require attention to detail and observation skills.

Let’s Go Fly Some Kites

Pick a day this spring, and go fly kites with your kids. You’ll all benefit from the exercise and fresh air, and you’ll also benefit in the five ways described above.

Next on our to-do list?

Making our own kites. I’m looking forward to it!

Do you and your family enjoy flying kites? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.

 

Family walks don't need to be boring! Here are 21 different ways to make family walks more fun for everyone.

21 Simple Ways to Make Family Walks More Fun

Spring is in the air! Now that the snow and ice is off the road, the kids love taking family walks. We’ve walked down to the creek and back each day (about 2/5 of a mile round-trip).

The fresh air feels amazing! And it’s great to be outside after a long winter. The kids have tons of energy to burn off!

But, sometimes walks can get a bit boring. Especially if you’re doing the same walk each day since the rest of the road is still a bit icy. Or involves a hill too steep for everyone.

So here are some ways we’ve boosted the fun level of our family walks. They’re super simple, and as a bonus, many are educational as well! Talk about learning on the go! 😀

1. Sing

We love singing as we walk. The kids take turns picking songs. Silly songs are a big hit!

2. Change Up the Speed

Alternate walking and jogging. If you’re feeling especially energetic, throw in some sprints. See if everyone can jog to the next power pole, or sprint to the driveway.

Using visual clues instead of a stopwatch has been way more engaging for my kids!

3. Check for Signs of Spring

Every where we look, we can see subtle signs of spring coming. I ask the kids what they notice and here are some clues they’ve found:

  • Water running down the side of the road from snow melting
  • Birds chirping
  • The creek flooding
  • Snow levels shrinking
  • Buds on the trees
  • The grass greening
  • The warm feeling in the air
  • A flower coming up

4. Play Follow the Leader

This is a fun way to mix up your movement. Pick one person to be the leader first. They can skip, hop, twirl, or do another movement of their choice. Everyone else follows.

Change up the leader every so often. We use visual markers for this one too so there’s no arguing. (You can be the leader until we reach that flower bed, then it’s someone else’s turn.

5. Find the ABCs

Look up and down and all around and see if you can find things starting with each letter of the alphabet. You might notice:

  • An airplane flying overhead
  • A bubble from someone’s gum
  • A cloud
  • Deer running through the field

And lots more!

If you can’t find a letter, agree to skip it after a minute of looking. That way the game doesn’t slow down.

6. Rhyme Time

Let one person go first and say a word aloud. Everyone else says a word that rhymes. Then, let another person say the beginning word.

Bonus points for starting with a word of something you see!

7. I Spy!

I spy with my little eye, something green!

You’ve probably played this game before, and it’s so much fun to play while walking. Take turns and use your power of observation.

8. Question & Answer

One person asks a question, and everyone else answers. This is a great way to get to know each other a little better. Here are some fun questions:

  • Which RescueBot is your favorite? (Can be used with any favorite cartoon!)
  • If you could go anywhere for a week, where would you go?
  • What season is your favorite?
  • What’s your favorite breakfast food?
  • What are your favorite ice cream toppings?
  • If you could meet any book character, who would it be?
  • If you could go inside any book as a character, which book would you pick?

Just ask away–this game is perfect if you’re all walking at about the same speed.

9. Magnifying Glasses

If you aren’t in a hurry on your walk, bring along a couple of magnifying glasses. Kids learn so much looking at the world up close. Encourage them to check out plants, bugs, rocks, and anything else they see.

10. Copy Cat

Listen carefully, and pick a sound to copy. Then have everyone else guess what you sound like. This works with birds, vehicles, construction noise, and anything else that makes noise!

11. Turn Around

If you’re in a safe place where you don’t have to worry about traffic, turn around and walk backwards. It stretches a completely different set of muscles and is lots of fun!

Just remind your kids to look over their shoulders so they can make sure they aren’t going to run into anything.

12. Animal Walk

This is a fun one for younger kids. Call out an animal and have everyone walk like that animal. Here are some ideas:

  • Elephant
  • Kangaroo
  • Horse
  • Bird
  • Fish

13. Linked

Everyone grabs hands and then walk in a single-file line. The person in front is the leader and tries to make sure everyone avoids obstacles. Don’t break the chain!

14. Shape Spy

Shapes are everywhere. Challenge your kids to find as many as possible. You may notice a circle man-hole cover, a triangle-shaped tree, or a rectangular building.

15. Photo the Way

Bring along a digital camera or two (smartphones or tablets work great!). Have your kids take pictures along the way, taking turns if necessary.

When you get back home, be sure to check out the photos. I love seeing the world through my kids’ eyes, and this is an easy way to make it happen.

16. Make a Boat

My kids love this one, and I hope yours do as well, if you have any water you can walk to. Give everyone a plastic bag before you leave, and urge your kids to pick up a few natural items along the way.

When you get to the water, have everyone use their natural objects to make a boat. No fair using anything man-made–we don’t want to pollute the water!

Once everyone is ready, put your boats in the water and watch them float.

17. Read the Tracks

If you’re off-road (or on a dirt road like us!), look closely for tracks. Then try to figure out what they are. Look for:

  • Tire tracks from vehicles, bikes, or strollers
  • Footprints
  • Animal tracks

18. Cloud Watchers

Keep your eyes to the sky and see what shapes you can find in the clouds. Try to piece what you find into a story. Perhaps there’s a giant dragon sneaking up on a fish. Or a bear walking towards a tree.

Use your imagination!

19. Story Time

Work together to tell a story using what’s around you for inspiration. Everyone can take turns adding details and plot twists to your story. Wrap it up at a logical point, and then start over again!

20. Nature Observer

Look around as you’re out and pay close attention to the nature around you. Talk about different types of flowers, the differences between conifers and deciduous trees, and anything else you notice.

When you get home, you can have your kids draw a picture of something they enjoyed from nature.

21. Street Safety

As you walk, wherever you go, talk to your kids about street safety. Be sure to practice what you preach–head to the crosswalks instead of jay walking, wait for the green lights, and always watch for cars.

Even if you’re in a rural area without much traffic, teach your kids to walk on the side of the road instead of down the middle. Safety is important anywhere!

What other ideas can you add to make family walks more fun?

I’d love for you to share in the comments!

Photo credit: Noah Hinton via Unsplash

Increase the fun on your family walks with these 21 different activities. They're all simple!

Gardening across the curriculum: learning activities for kids.

Gardening Across the Curriculum: What Kids Learn By Getting Their Hands Dirty

My plan is to wrap our official homeschooling up by the end of May. Our learning though, never ends. I’m a huge fan of learning through experience.

This year, we’re going to try to finally figure this gardening thing out.

You see, even though I live on a large homestead and raise my own animals, plants are another story. My thumbs are definitely not green.

I’ve tried in the past. Many times. But I’ve always tried to go too big. This year is different. This year I’m shrinking my gardening plans into something more manageable.

And planning on the kids helping a lot more. After all–gardening is a great way to learn. Here’s a look at gardening across the curriculum, what getting their hands dirty can teach kids.

Math

Math is everywhere in life. In our gardening time, my kids will be:

  • Counting seeds
  • Measuring depth for measuring
  • Measuring space between plants
  • Marking the growing season on a calendar so we know when to expect a harvest
  • Measuring rain
  • Estimating the height of plants
  • Comparing plant sizes
  • Sorting flowers by color
  • Sorting seeds by size

Science

Nature is naturally scientific. While gardening, the kids will specifically study:

  • Botany (plant identification)
  • Classification of plants and bugs
  • Insect studies
  • Learn about good garden insects and pests
  • Observe and name parts of plants
  • Differentiate between weeds and plants
  • Weather studies
  • Water cycle
  • Composting–the cycle of life
  • Nutrition

Language Arts

We’ll be reading and writing a lot about our garden! Here’s what I’m planning:

  • Reading seed packets
  • Identifying letters on seed packets (for my non-readers)
  • Research square foot gardening via internet and books (for my oldest)
  • Read these books from the library (aff. links):

As we read each book, we’ll talk about the plot, the characters, and write down what we learned about gardening.

  • Writing our own gardening stories
  • Making science journals and writing in them about our plants

Social Studies

Gardening across the curriculum means all subjects are covered! Here’s how we’ll tackle social studies:

  • Checking out zone maps to determine what zone we’re in
  • Visiting the local farmer’s market to learn more about our community
  • Learning about George Washington Carver & his work in agriculture
  • Studying ag around the world
  • Comparing food eaten in different parts of the country
  • Organic vs. conventional growing systems

Art

Gardening is so colorful! We’ll be doing some fun art projects:

  • Making a seed collage
  • Sketching the parts of plants
  • Making a stepping stone path
  • Color inspiration picture (pick one color from the garden and then use shades of that color to create a picture)
  • Create plant markers

Engineering

  • Building a trellis playhouse with Daddy
  • Building raised beds

PE/Health

  • Weeding the garden
  • Learning about the importance of water for plants and people
  • Nutrition studies
  • Washing hands
  • Washing produce before eating it

I’m so excited to dive into our garden studies. I’m hoping for a great harvest. But even if we just grow a bunch of weeds, I know the kids will learn so much by getting their hands dirty.

Do you garden? What other examples can you share of gardening across the curriculum? I know I didn’t cover it all!

6 spring learning activities

6 Spring Learning Activities

The seasons are changing!

Spring is in the air!

To celebrate, here are six simple spring learning activities.

1. Build a Nest

Using moss, thin twigs, and stones for eggs you and your child can create a realistic looking nest. As you work, you’ll be bringing science to life. You can discuss:

  • Characteristics of birds
  • Types of nests
  • Other animals that lay eggs
  • Bird migration patterns

 

2. Take a Spring Nature Walk

Spring’s the perfect season for taking a nature walk. Bring your camera, and let your children document signs of spring. You can keep your eyes peeled for:

  • Budding leaves
  • Baby animals
  • Bird nests
  • Birds flying back from the south
  • Rising rivers or streams
  • Mud puddles
  • Worms
  • Butterflies
  • Caterpillars
  • Flowers growing

3. Read a Springtime Book

There are lots of spring books for kids! A beautiful new one came out this year by one of our favorite authors, Kevin Henkes. His wife completed the lovely illustrations, and it’s just a sweet book to welcome spring (aff. links).

There are lots of other spring books to read. Head to your local library, and look for some of these titles:

As you read, talk to your kids about the books.

Have them make predictions. What do they think the caterpillar will eat next? What color flower will be on the next page?

Talk about fiction and non-fiction. Do caterpillars really eat lollipops? Do bears use pillows?

4. Play Hibernating Bear

An active spring learning activity, this simple game teaches children about hibernation.

First, gather a pile of blankets. Place them under the table to create a comfy cave.

Next, pick one person to be the bear.

The bear needs to gather berries and fish to eat before winter comes. (The child can walk around the room and pretend to pluck berries from bushes and fish from a stream.)

The bear then goes to the cave, and pretends to sleep.

The other players pretend winter is here. They can build a snowman, make a snow angel, or anything else they can think of.

As “spring” comes, the bear starts to toss and turn and get ready to wake up.

The bear wakes up and comes out of the cave, hungry and ready for action.

Another player can now be the bear if desired.

5. Plant Something

A list of spring learning activities wouldn’t be complete without some gardening! Kids learn so much from digging in the dirt.

If you don’t have a lot of space, there are plenty of plants you can grow in pots.

Let your child prepare the pot or ground, and plant the seed. Encourage him to water the plant each day (after you show how much water is needed.)

Using a spiral notebook as a gardening journal, your child can observe the plants and draw them. Let them draw what they see each day on a single page.

They’ll be able to look back and count how many days it took for the first green to show above the soil. They’ll have documented how long it took for leaves to appear. It’s a great scientific project!

You can practice measuring by using a ruler to see how tall each plant is getting.

Plants are so fun to study!

6. Make a Kite to Fly

If spring is windy where you are (like it is here), it’s the perfect season for building a kite. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s the directions we’ll be following this next week.

We just need dowels, string, and newspaper. I think the kids are going to love it!

By making a kite, you’re teaching your kids:

  • How to follow directions
  • Measurement
  • Cutting skills
  • Geometry

As you work, you can talk about the tail. Why does a kite need a tail? Let your kids each give a guess. If no one guesses stability, you can offer that answer.

Once your kites are ready, give them plenty of time to dry. Then head outside and catch some light winds.

What are your favorite spring learning activities?

Have you ever made your own kite?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!