Duration: 20-30 minutes
Recommended Ages: Everyone ages 5-8 with some supervision and anyone age 9 or older with minimal to no supervision.
Description: Unleash your creativity in this arts and crafts activity as you cut out and decorate an 18th-century kite. What will your kite have? Suns, moons, and stars are popular.
Kites were flown by many people in the 18th century, though they were used most frequently by wealthy men and boys. You might even have heard of the most famous kite-flyer of the 18th century: Benjamin Franklin! He left us with a description of his simple kite. It was a square of silk fabric tied onto a wooden frame. Other kite shapes existed in the colonial period. No matter the shape, some were plain, and some had lots of decorations.
Art such as paintings, drawings, and woodcuts give us a lot of information about 18th century-kites. Plus, a few kites used more than 200 years ago have survived. Some colonial kites looked the way you might imagine; they were diamond-shaped. However, the shape that appears most often is a “pear.” People gave this style of kite its name s because they thought it looked like an upside down pear. Primary sources show that most of the time all styles had lots of shapes and letters drawn, sewn, or glued onto them. Stars, moons, and suns were popular. Initials also decorated many 18th-century kites. Perhaps the initials were for the kite’s owner. Another way to decorate was to attach inward facing triangles along the edge.
Follow the directions below to print an outline of a kite. Then decorate it in whatever way you would like. Will you make your kite look like those from the colonial time? Or will you design a more modern kite? If you want to make a different kind of kite, you can use the printout to make an outline and glue tissue paper to make a translucent, decorated kite to hang in your window.
Design Your Own 18th-Century Kite
What you need
Kite Print out
Coloring materials such as a pencil, colored pencils, crayons, markers, pens
Construction paper (optional)
1. Print out your choice of the diamond- or pear-shaped printout, and decorate it to your heart’s content.
2. If you wish, you may also download the stars, moon, and sun printout to glue to your kite.