Homemade Kites: A Craft to Celebrate Ben Franklin’s Birthday
Among his many famed quotes, Ben Franklin is known for this one: “It is the duty of mankind on all suitable occasions to acknowledge their dependence on the Divine Being”. In this craft celebrating Ben Franklin’s birthday, involving homemade kites, will not only introduce kids to Franklin’s discovery of lightning charges…it will help kids understand that God “lifts us up” and helps us fly spiritually.
One 24 inch stick (or dowel)
One 20 inch stick
Large piece of paper at least 26×26 inches
Paint, crayons or markers
Roll of kite string (available at craft and kite stores.)
In 1752 Benjamin Franklin tried a dangerous experiment involving lightning and electricity. Using a kite, a silk string, an iron key and a thin metal wire, he flew the kite into the sky during a thunderstorm. When the storm passed over the kite, negative charges in the cloud passed onto his kite, down the wet silk string, to the key, and into a jar. Ben wasn’t electrocuted by the negative charges because the dry silk ribbon he was holding insulated him from the charges on the key. But when he moved his free hand near the iron key, he received a shock because the negative charges in the key were so strongly attracted to the positive charges in his body causing a spark to jump from the key to his hand.
Think of our mind having negative and positive charges that attracts opposites; good and evil, love and hate. But our mind can also attract and repel because we are given a choice to attract what is good and repel what is evil. Let’s make kites and then we’ll talk more about lessons we can learn from them.
1. Make a cross with the two sticks.
2. Put a dab of glue at the top stick at the point where the two sticks come together, and then tie the two sticks together with string. (Wrap the string so that it makes an “x” where the two sticks meet.)
3. Use the craft knife to cut a small notch in the end of each point of your kite’s frame.
4. Starting at the bottom notch in the cross, wrap a piece of string or fishing line all the way around, securing it in each of the four notches. Upon reaching the bottom of the cross, tie the string or fishing line into a knot. You now have a diamond shape frame for your kite.
5. Now lay the frame atop the piece of paper. (Newspaper, rice paper or butcher paper can all be used to cover your kite.)
6. Cut the paper a little larger than the frame, and then tuck the extra around the edges and glue or tape down.
7. Poke small holes in the top and bottom points of the triangle.
8. Cut a 2-foot piece of string, and knot through the holes you just made. This is the bridle of your kite. The bridle is an arrangement of strings attached to the bottom of your kite that allows it to maneuver.
9. Take the rest of the string, and tie it about halfway down the bridle, this is your flying string.
10. To make the kite’s tail, tie a six inch piece of string or fishing line to the bottom of the frame. Knot several short pieces of ribbon to the string, each about eight inches apart. Adding a tail will make your kite more stable. Now decorate and you are ready to fly!
When you fly your kite, you won’t feel the electrical charge that Ben Franklin felt! However, when you feel your kite take off, remember that it’s a little like us in our Christian walks. We may have trouble at first getting off the ground. But if we are faithful, in time, God will swoop
down and “lift us up!” We may dip and dart wildly sometimes, but God can reign us back so we don’t fall. Psalm 37:24 says, that we may stumble in life, but we will not be hurled headlong. I hope you’ll be able to see some of this when you fly your kites!
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