March is a traditional time for flying kites, but you and your preschooler can have fun with a kite on almost any breezy day. Look at the leaves on trees, at weather vanes or at wind socks to see if it is a good day for flying kites. Explain to your child that kites fly because the wind pushes on its face — trying to blow the kite away — while gravity pulls on it — trying to make the kite come down.
Why Kites Fly
Explain that kites can fly in the wind because the wind pushes on the front of the kite while gravity wants the kite to fall down. The kite stays in the air because it is in the middle of a tug-of-war between gravity and the wind. To help your child understand about gravity, have him stand on a chair and drop some objects, such as a ball, a feather and a handkerchief. Explain that they fall because gravity is pulling on them. Discuss which things fall faster than the others.
Kites fly because the wind currents pressing on them make them stay up in the air. You can show your child how air moves things using an electrical fan. Turn on the fan, and point the air stream toward an open floor area. Take turns with your child holding things such as paper streamers, long blades of grass, plastic grocery bags or model kites in front of the blowing air. Your child can even stand in front of the fan to see it will blow him away. Discuss why the air can move some things and not others.
Visit an open area on a breezy day. Have some fun throwing grass clippings up into the wind or blowing the seeds off dandelion stems. Watch how they blow away. Hold a grocery bag up in the wind and see if you can catch a bagful of it. Hold one edge of a kite and let your child hold the other side. Ask him to feel how the wind pushes on the kite. Explain that when the wind pushes on the front of the kite it makes the kite fly up in the sky.
Getting a Kite in the Air
Run against the wind with your child. Ask him to put his arms out and feel the wind pushing against them. Ask him if he can feel how much harder it pushes when he is running against it than when he is standing still. Explain that when you run with a kite it makes the wind push harder on it, and that can make it go up high in the sky where the wind currents are stronger. Demonstrate running with a kite and getting it into the air. Let your preschooler hold onto the string so he can feel how hard it pulls.
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