Maori Bird Kite

Maori Bird Kite lesson plan

Explore the traditional Maori culture of New Zealand. Then create a bird kite that really flies.

  • 1.

    Kites may have originated in the South Sea Islands, where people used them to fish. In China, kites lifted people for military purposes. The Maori people of New Zealand used kites to celebrate their belief that birds could carry messages between people and the gods. Their god Rehua is depicted as a bird, and is considered to be the ancestor of all kites. As part of your exploration of Maori culture, make this kite, which can be flown.

  • 2.

    <STRONG>. Construct the spine and spar</STRONG>. With Crayola® School Glue, attach the edges of two or more sheets of newspaper to create one large sheet. You can also use craft paper. Use a 30-inch (76 cm) long dowel as the vertical spine of your kite. Place a second, somewhat shorter dowel over the spine, about one-third of the way down. This horizontal dowel is called the spar. Use light, strong string to tie the pieces together. Glue the string and air-dry it.

  • 3.

    <STRONG>Ask an adult</STRONG> to cut a small notch in each end of your crossed dowels. Tie a loop in the end of a long string. Slide the string into the notch at the top of your crossed dowels and wrap it around the top of the dowel a few times. Pull the string snugly across the notch on one side of the spar and then through the bottom notch of the spine. Make a loop. Wrap the string around the bottom of the spine a few times, and then bring it up to the other side of the spar. Place it snugly in the notch, and then return it to the top of the spine. Wrap the string around the top a few times. Glue the string at the ends of each dowel. Your crossed dowels should lay flat and have a loop at both the top and the bottom.

  • 4.

    Place your crossed dowels on the newspaper. With Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils, trace the outline of your kite, using the string as a guideline. Draw a second line 2 inches (5 cm) outside the outline. Use Crayola Scissors to cut out the kite on the outside line.

  • 5.

    <STRONG>Paint your bird.</STRONG> Cover your art area with newspaper. Sketch your flying bird on the kite with your colored pencils. Use Crayola Tempera Paint and Brushes to paint the bird. Air-dry completely.

  • 6.

    <STRONG>Assemble the kite</STRONG>. Turn the painted bird over. Place your dowel frame on the back of the kite. Fold the extra newspaper over the string and glue it in place. Air-dry the glue before continuing.

  • 7.

    Turn the kite over. Cut a string longer than your kite’s height. Tie this string to the loop at the top. Tie a small loop in the string, slightly above the point where the two dowels cross each other. This string is called the bridle of your kite. Then ti

  • 8.

    Tie another string, for the tail, to the bottom loop of your kite. Tie small strips of tissue paper to the string. (Traditional Maori kites did not have tails, so you can omit this step if you prefer.) Tie kite string to the bridle, and you’re ready to fl


  • Children research the origins and themes of kites, especially those made by the Maori people of New Zealand.
  • Students build and decorate a kite with an authentic Maori theme.
  • Students fly their kites and adjust them as needed for stability.


  • Research information about the Maori culture and traditions. What popular movies were filmed in New Zealand, such as Whale Rider? How accurately do these movies represent the Maori? What influence do the Maori have in New Zealand today?
  • Learn more about New Zealand’s landforms and history. Discover mud pools, volcanoes, glaciers, and other phenomena. Why are these islands such a popular tourist destination?
  • Research different types of kites from other cultures. Make several kites that are replicas from those cultures.
  • Research wind socks, which are related to kites. Japan’s windsocks are often made in the shape of carp, which signify good luck in the Japanese culture. Create a fish-shaped windsock and hang it outside for good luck.