Up, Up and Away: Learn to Fly a Kite in 3 Easy Steps

School’s out, camp’s finished…and who couldn’t use a hiatus from iPhones?

Seems like it’s the perfect time to go fly a kite. Here are 3 tips to get yours safely off the ground.

1. Choose a location with lots of open space. West Ridge Park in Highland Park is a good option, as is Woodland Park in Deerfield. Independence Grove in Libertyville is also a good choice. “It’s always windy there,” says Nan Buckardt, public affairs director for the Lake County Forest Preserves. “The best place is on the raised hills to the east and north of the lake.”

2. Once you’re situated, stand with your back to the wind. Have a helper hold your kite in front of you—about 50 feet away—and (this is the trickiest part) release your kite with arms raised. The kite should quickly dart up into the air.

3. When the wind catches your kite, you’ll feel a small tug. Release a tiny bit of line and slowly move backwards—running actually makes things harder. As the kite ascends, keep your line taut, so you always remain in control.

Now you know where to go and how to do it—but with what kind of kite?

Triangles, diamonds, squares – oh my. Sometimes buying a kite can seem like a painful geometry lesson. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are three kites that are easy to assemble, affordable, and perfect for first-time fliers. (All kites are available from the Gift of Wings).

We love the Parafoil 3.5 ($25.95). It’s totally portable (no assembly required), and comes in a cool little neon sack. Plus, it’s pretty to look at from the ground. “It looks like a little parachute,” says Scott Fisher, owner of the Gift of Wings.

Another good bet is the 25-inch Diamond Kite ($12.95), which is more of a traditional-shaped kite. The diamond kite is easy to assemble, and comes in a variety of patterns: turtles, ladybugs, unicorns, butterflies, dinosaurs and frogs.

Finally, we couldn’t resist the tiny Professor Brain Mini-Kite ($2.50). Perfect for a family on a budget, it’s not only cute, but practical, weather-wise. “The mini-kite requires little wind,” Fisher says. “You can even fly it indoors.” Just be sure to handle the tissue-thin flyer with care.

Find kites locally at a number of toy stores:

  • The Beanstalk in Highland Park carries 30-inch diamond kites for around $19, along with $10 mini-versions.
  • Wishes Toy Wonderland in the Glen Town Center carries 25- and 30-inch kites for about $15-20.
  • Children’s Gift Shop in Northfield has a great assortment of inexpensive kites, ranging from $4.99 to $12.99.
  • Becky & Me Toys in Evanston and Glenview carries brightly-colored 30-inch kites for $20.
  • The Toy Station in Highland Park offers a wide variety of sizes and styles, including inexpensive nylon and plastic options and Delta kites for about $35.