Level: Intermediate (3-5/6), Middle (6-8)

Grade From: 4

Grade To: 8


3-5 sessions, including student readings, kite making, and kite flying. Sessions can be taught in a different order, with some combined or omitted. The kite alone can be constructed in about 30 minutes (no decoration and no flying time).


These readings and activities introduce vocabulary, information, and concepts about Lawrence Hargrave, his invention of the box kite, and the role it played in an era of aeronautical experimentation and meteorological investigation. Students construct the box kite pictured.

The sequence in which these activities can be presented is flexible. For example, students may work on one reading per week over the course of two weeks (or one reading per day over two days), then decorate, make and fly their kites in one session. Or the sequence could be: reading about Lawrence Hargrave; students’ decorating and constructing their kites; students’ flying their kites; reading more about meteorological investigation as a culminating activity.

Curriculum Integration: 

Science: analyzes how the parts of a system interconnect and influence each other; describes the effect on a system when an input in the system is changed; understands forces in terms of strength and direction; understands how to construct a reasonable explanation using evidence; understands that increased comprehension of systems leads to new inquiry; analyzes common problems or challenges in whic h s cientific design can be or has been used to design solutions.

Mathematics: understands the concepts of angle measurement and volume; applies understanding of angles and quadrilaterals; constructs a geometric shape using geometric properties; identifies geometric figures and concepts in nature and art.

Social Studies: analyzes the impact of ideas and technological developments on society and culture and on the production of goods and services; identifies and analyzes relationships between historical events.

Visual Arts: identifies and uses color and form in a 3D artwork; combines art elements for expressive purposes; uses proportion to analyze size relationships in an artwork; balances forms and uses emphasis in an artwork; develops work using a creative process with instructor assistance.

Language Arts: applies a variety of strategies to comprehend words and ideas in complex text; understands and applies content vocabulary critical to the meaning of the text; applies understanding of text organizational structures; draws a conclusion from informational/expository grade-level text; analyzes and evaluates text for validity and accuracy; reads to learn new information; reads to perform a task; writes for different purposes; writes in a variety of forms/genres (answers to questions).

Cultural Integration: Oceania

Student Reading: Meet the Kite Maker: Lawrence Hargrave (PDF file)

Extension Activities: Meet the Kite Maker: Writing & Discussing (Word document)

Student Reading: The Box Kite in Weather Research (PDF file)

Extension Activities: The Box Kite in Weather Research: Writing & Discussing (Word document)

Purchase Kite Kits: Kono Box Kite Kit (with paper pattern, spars, flying line & winder), per student

Materials You Supply: Scissors; markers, pens, crayons, and/or watercolors; Scotch tape (clear, not “Magic”); water cup, per student


Printable Kite Template: Kono Box Kite Template (PDF file) (requires 4 pieces of 11”x17” bond paper, per student) and Instructions (PDF file) for Kono Box Kite, plus materials (spars, tubing, line, and winder) as specified in instructions.

Session One: Student Reading/Activities (50 minutes)

Use the reading Meet the Kite Maker: Lawrence Hargrave to discuss the kite maker’s invention of the box kite and its significance. Extension activities (historical experiments; contemporary box kite makers) on these topics are provided.

Session Two: Student Reading/Activities (50 minutes)

Use the reading The Box Kite in Weather Research to further discussion of this topic. Extension activities (historical and contemporary experiments; weather stations) provided.

Sessions Three - Five: Decorating, Constructing, and Flying the Kono Box Kite (90-120 minutes)

Combine the activities of cutting out and decorating the sails, constructing the kite, and flying the kite into two or three sessions.

Follow assembly instructions from the kite kit or from download.

Remind students that large, bold, colorful designs will be more readily visible in the sky. Groups exploring visual arts in designing kite sails can work intensively with the challenges of converting 2D to 3D design.

Take extra spars and line, plus tape, to the flying field for repairs in heavy winds.

To integrate making the box kite with more extensive study of science and mathematics, look for Nancy Ann Belsky’s Building Kites: Flying High with Math, which has activities for grades 5-8. Its material on the box kite (both flat sytle and sheath style) includes a lesson plan on finding the diagonal of a square.

Students who are first-time kite makers may want to learn more about the forces that affect the flight of their box kites. Use the reading Forces of Flight to address this topic. Or learn more about the kite maker who designed this adaptation of the box kite with the reading Meet the Kite Maker: Greg Kono.