Posted by: jockmackenzie | April 12, 2010

Kites #3 – String climbers, a list of do’s

Kite string climbers, aka messengers, are supposed to climb the kite string, spinning as they ascend, and remain spinning when they hit a stopper – usually the bridle or fish line connector, sometimes a paper clip added along the string. They have been successful on occasions so I offer them here. Shown above is my generic pattern.

Students cut out an individual pattern, use a utility knife to open the four wings, then trace the pattern onto  lightweight cardboard. I have used cereal boxes with success but chose a golf ball box because of its shiny side.

Trace the pattern, carefully cut the wings, bend the wings out to catch the wind and you will have . . .

Notice the slit cut into the centre. This allows the flier to slip the climber onto the string once the kite is airborne. A small tab of tape is used to close the opening and solidify the climber. In the past, I have added an extra step. I cut a 1″ piece of plastic drinking straw, slit it, slip the straw onto the kite string and then slide the climber onto the straw. Several more bits of tape are needed to tape the straw’s slits. A centre hole needs to be cut in the climber and this can be problematic. I did find a single hole punch (in a scrapbooking store) that looks like a pen. It has a sharp hole at one end and simply needs to be pressed down wherever a hole is needed.

Decorating the spinners is key. Let your students’ imaginations run wild.

The jury is out on the whole kite string climber idea but I continue to experiment. I encourage you to try it. Good luck. I’d appreciate a call if you are successful.

The Do Do List

1.Talk about how to fly a kite before you head outside. Many of my students had this “If I run fast enough it will fly” mentality. Kite flying needs Mother Nature’s wind not kid-generated power. Briefly mention power lines, neighboring yards and trees, roadways, standing too close to one another (inviting tangles and tears) and whatever else suits your situation. Please don’t teacher talk them to deaf death, but don’t let your inner kid make you rush outside and then wish you set the stage.

2. Wait for the right day. Sled kites need a moderately strong wind. Have a few other kites (the inexpensive kind from Wal-Mart have worked for me) on hand. If the wind isn’t right for your 8 1/2 X 14 inch paper kite, it could be for another type. Enjoy the outing and try the sled kites another day.

3. Take a repair kit with you – tape, scissors, string should do.  Even better, create an extra two or three kits. Assign the kits to appropriate students (someone who didn’t get his/her kite finished, a helper-outer type, the fastest runner) because our playing field was large and didn’t lend itself to only one repair station. It might be a good idea to spot the kits in several places in bright orange garbage bags and let any accidents go to the kit.

4. Cheer on the successes but watch for and the failures. Note both the good and the bad for future reference. For me, I was most cognizant of the risk takers. Did the Zylon 2000 XL reach new heights? (made with the sturdy liner bag from the breakfast cereal box – SEE THE VIDEO ACCOMPANYING KITES #1)  How did the kite string climbers spin and climb? Was anyone able to drop a parachute?

5. Take a camera. Celebrating and reminiscing improve with pictures. Let a student take some of the pictures.

6. Once you’ve gone outside, stay there for as much of the period as possible. Trying to come back to class and accomplish something else never worked well for me – the kids were higher than . . .


  1. […] Kites #3 – String climbers, a list of do’s « TEACHER MAN …Apr 12, 2010 … The jury is out on the whole kite string climber idea but I continue to experiment. I encourage you to try it. Good luck. I’d appreciate a call if you … […]

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