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The One Tool You Need to Gamify Your Classroom


kite day



If you gave students the choice between doing their homework and playing a game, they’d obviously choose the latter. Children love games. They love play. They love competition and imagination and spending time with their friends. It’s more than fun—it’s human nature!

That’s why games are such a great way for students to learn. By taking something that isn’t a game (that not-so-exciting history lesson, for example) and turning it into one, you’re making learning engaging, motivating and even a little addictive.

But wait. Doesn’t gamification in the classroom require expensive technology and hours of planning? Nope. Although gamification these days does tend to lean more towards gizmos and gadgets, there’s no reason why you can’t bring it back to the basics. Actually, that’s a good reason why you should bring it back to the basics. Who says games have to be digital?


Case in point: Kites.


Kites are much more than a toy. Once used for military purposes, delivering messages and scientific research, kites have carved a new niche in the classroom. They’re an affordable, creative, inclusive gamification tool that your students will love. They can be used with your existing curriculum and they’re an idea you can use year after year with the same great results. And best of all, they’re FUN!


Here are a few ideas to get you started…


Altitude Sprint


The Game: Who can let out their flying line the fastest without crashing their kite?

The Details: Everyone gets a fixed length of time to let their line out (usually between 30 seconds and 2 minutes, depending on the wind). Once the whistle is blown, give the kites a moment to stabilize, then have the students use their math skills to determine whose kite is the highest.

The Lesson: Trigonometry (to determine the kite’s altitude)

Source: National Kite Month


Highest Flying Angle


The Game:  Who can fly their kite at the highest angle?

The Details: Students launch their kites together and fly them as high as they like (it’s a good idea to set a maximum height of 100 feet, for example). At the end of a set amount of time, the judges determine which kite is flying at the highest angle.Students can use a protractor to measure either the angle of the kite line at the flier’s hand, or by looking along the protractor toward the kite.

When the winners have been declared, start a discussion about how the different angles affect the way kites fly.

The Lesson: Math (protractor usage) and the science of flight (lift, drag, thrust, gravity).

Source: National Kite Month


Kites Around the World


The Game: Pin the kite to the map

The Details: Make a list of foreign-language words for “kite.” Then, assign a country to each student. They’ll research the country and its kite culture, and decorate their kite to represent what they’ve learned.

Students will then match up as many kites as possible to countries on a map (you can number the kites to make it easier). Who can get the most correct?

The Lesson: Geography

Source: Education World


Feeling inspired and ready to play? Contact us or order online! And if you’d like to see our kites in action, be sure to check out this awesome video from Montcrest School in Toronto.

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Kids Spend 8 Hours a Day Doing What?!

kids being active

kids being active

Remember when you were young? When you couldn’t wait to go outside and play with your friends? When snow days meant snowball fights and summer vacation meant being outdoors until you had to go home for dinner?

Many adults have great memories of childhoods spent outside. But that’s all changed. Today, children spend their time glued to TV screens and video games and rarely venture into the fresh air.

This is contrary to what we think an ideal childhood should be, but it’s much more than that: This aversion to nature is detrimental to kids’ physical and emotional well being.

According to a report (PDF – will download) from the National Wildlife Federation, the costs of an “indoor childhood” included increased child obesity, diabetes and asthma; reduced ability to relate to other children and adults; less realistic life expectations; inability to concentrate; more aggressive behavior; and a higher likelihood of personal isolation.


Want to know more? Here are some shocking facts and stats from this must-read report:

  • The average American child, age 8 to 18, spends nearly eight hours per day, year round, indoors looking at electronic screens
  • 78% of children who spend regular time in outdoor play are better able to concentrate and perform better in the classroom
  • 82% of students need daily outdoor time as a counterbalance to the significant time spent indoors in front of electronic media
  • 75% of students who spend regular time outdoors tend to be more creative and better able to problem solve in the classroom
  • Today’s children may have life spans that are three to five years shorter than their parents’, due to their inactive indoor lifestyles
  • Today’s children are less physically fit, less able to concentrate and are less able to relate to peers and adults than any previous generation of children


But there’s good news…

  • Outdoor education and play time helps students become high-performance learners with skill sets that will be with them throughout their lives
  • Exposure to natural settings may be widely effective in reducing attention deficit symptoms in children
  • Many people will naturally associate environmental education with improved understanding of science, but it also contributes to the development of basic skills, including reading
  • Hands-on and real-world aspects of most environmental and outdoor education improve students’ desire to learn and boost their performance on most measures of student success
  • Outdoor education is particularly effective at helping under-resourced, low-income students perform measurably better in school

What can you, the teacher, do to change the indoor childhood trend? Well, first you can keep educating yourself (and others!) on the importance of getting kids outside. And, you can find creative ways to bring learning outdoors!

Here at Kites in the Classroom, we make it easy to combine fresh air, learning and fun. Our kit kits are a go-to idea that you can use year after year, and best of all they’re affordable! Want to learn more? Learn about our kite kits, get inspired by our project ideas and read what other teachers are saying. And of course, you can always contact us!

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This is Your Brain on Fun: The Science Behind Learning, Motivation and Having a Great Time

Kids Having Fun in the Classroom


Kids Having Fun in the Classroom


As a teacher, you can sometimes feel like your students aren’t listening to a word you’re saying. Even though you’ve created the perfect lesson plan, the information goes in one ear and right out the other. What gives?

Well, there’s probably more than one reason why your students aren’t hanging on to your every word. After all, distractions abound. But when it comes down to it, there’s one thing that can make or break your students’ memory: a little thing called dopamine.


What is dopamine?

To scientists, dopamine is a neurotransmitter—a chemical messenger that helps the transmission of signals in the brain. It affects brain processes that control movement, emotions and the ability to experience pleasure and pain.

But to teachers, dopamine is the brain’s reward mechanism. It’s released in a student’s brain when they experience something they enjoy, like going on an adventure with friends or discovering a tasty treat in their lunchbox. Even learning something new triggers these feelings of euphoria, but only if it’s something really engaging and awesome.


Why should we care about dopamine?

Because our brains are wired to find learning fun! Think about it: Every time we’re interested and engaged in a subject, our brains get a shot of dopamine. The feelings of pleasure that follow make us want to keep learning, exploring and pushing ourselves to find out more.

In other words, dopamine rewards behaviours—like learning—that promote the survival of our species.

But what’s more, dopamine not only motivates us to learn, but it also helps us retain that new information. Dr. Martha Burns, a neuroscientist and leading expert on how children learn, calls dopamine the “save button.” When dopamine is present during an event or experience, we remember it. But when it’s absent, nothing seems to stick. The more interested we are in an activity, the more dopamine is released and the better we remember it.


That’s great, but how can we increase our students’ dopamine levels?

Information is constantly streaming in and out of our brains. That we know. So the trick here is to find a way to filter out all of the familiar sights, sounds and smells and get the students to focus on what really matters: the lesson at hand.

To do that, you need to present information in an exciting and novel way. If there’s a change in the way you teach (ie students are not passively sitting in their desks and listening to you), then that information will take precedence over whatever else is happening around them. The students’ brains will make that information top priority over all other sensory input. Students will feel more enthusiastic and engaged, and their dopamine levels will skyrocket.

Tip: If you really want to make your lesson stand out, you could always try using kites as a teaching tool! They’re a unique way to get students excited about a variety of subjects. Science, math, history, social studies, language arts…the topics are virtually endless (and endless fun!).

As well, it also helps to make the content rewarding. Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to increase dopamine levels and ensure retention of information. And, it helps keep motivation and attention levels high.

Tip: What’s more rewarding than seeing your own colourful creation take to the sky? Students have complete freedom to decorate their kite however they please. And when they’re done, they can immediately see the results of their hard work (and the effects of their actions!). It’s a fun and rewarding way to make learning real.

Students who have these satisfying learning experiences develop the confidence, curiosity and perseverance necessary to excel in school and beyond. They become learners for life!

Have any fun learning experiences (as a teacher or student) to share?



Image courtesy of Woodleywonderworks.

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Green Time, Not Screen Time: An Easy Outdoor Ed. Activity

Exploring Outside in the Kinderdome

Exploring Outside in the Kinderdome


When you think of outdoor education for elementary school students, what comes to mind? A day spent hiking and exploring tide pools? An overnight camping trip? What about a weekend at an outdoor education centre?

These are all are great ways to get students out and about in nature, but outdoor education doesn’t have to involve long, intricate field trips. It doesn’t have to be terribly expensive, either, or riddled with red tape and permission slips.

No, it can happen right here at school, in just a few hours. But how?


Kites are a fun, interactive and sensory-rich way to introduce students to the natural world. Children of all ages and abilities can touch, feel and engage with the outdoor environment—skills that can’t be developed in an indoor classroom, no matter how hard you try.

But the benefits of using kites for outdoor education go beyond communing with nature. By challenging children in a structured outdoor environment, we’re laying the foundation for a solid future. The lessons and skills they learn are transferable to the classroom and to life, and can even benefit you, the teacher!


Kites introduce students to activities and skills that many are trying for the first time

But hasn’t everyone flown a kite, you ask? Nope. While it may seem like a childhood rite of passage, our research shows that 90% of early elementary school children have never flown a kite! It’s an experience every child should have!


Kites give teachers insight into individual students’ learning styles

An indoor environment can feel frustrating and restrictive to some students, both socially and cognitively. So when you move the lesson outdoors, you have the chance to observe the students in their natural state—laughing, playing and learning with friends. You’ll see how they work together (or not together), how they use the learning materials (the kites), how they transition from challenge to challenge, and how they each tackle these challenges in their own way.


Kites allow students to test and expand their own capabilities

Children need the freedom to discover, investigate and imagine. After all, it’s the only way they can gain a practical understanding of the world around them.

Kites are really special in this regard because they provide meaningful, hands-on learning experiences with no bounds. While flying their kite in the great outdoors, students have the opportunity to explore the relationship between their actions and the environment. They can try this or try that, learn what works and what doesn’t work, and find their own way to rise to the challenge. This type of self-directed learning (under your lightly-guiding, watchful eye, of course) boosts students’ self-confidence, helps them achieve their potential, and gives them the tools necessary to grow into curious and self-aware adults.


Kites let children be children

In today’s increasingly wired world, kids spend much of their time indoors, glued to computers, televisions and video games. What society is quickly forgetting, however, is that outdoor play is a vital element in children’s growth. It’s essential for a child’s cognitive expansion, and has been shown to reduce anxiety, improve mood and promote happy and healthy relationships. (Kids don’t need to know this, though. For them it’s fun and that’s all that matters!)



Image courtesy of pawpaw67.

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How to Spark a Passion for Learning Through Imaginative Inquiry

Imagination of a Little Boy (Dragons)

Imagination of a Little Boy (Dragons)

“Play is the highest form of research. ” – Albert Einstein

Einstein was one of the greatest physicists of all time, but the man also knew a thing or two about the power of imagination. His ability to think beyond the ordinary and his belief in intuition and inspiration are what led to many of his amazing scientific discoveries.

Even if you’ve never heard this quote before (let’s face it, Einstein said a lot of great things and it’s hard to keep up with them all), you’ve definitely experienced it. When you were young, chances are you spent a considerable amount of time making up imaginary worlds, pla
ying dress up (you know you did), or carrying out elaborate storylines with your dolls. You could be anyone, at anytime, anywhere, doing anything. And while this may have seemed like just fun and games at the time, remarkable learning and development were taking place.

You were engaged in what is known as imaginative inquiry. It’s a natural way of learning that’s exciting, meaningful and challenging. But it’s not limited to the playground! As a teacher, you can replicate this creative learning technique in the classroom. All you need is a little enthusiasm and a whole lot of imagination—no flashy technology required.

Before you start playing, you first you have to find a context for imaginative inquiry that fits into your curriculum. If that sounds like a whole lot of planning, don’t worry. We may have you covered 😉


How Kites Fit Into Imaginative Inquiry

Imaginative inquiry can be used to bring virtually any subject to life, but history class is where it really shines.

It’s hard to get students engaged in a subject that involves people they can’t see and places they can’t visit. But by reimagining events and characters, students can actually participate in the moments that shaped our world. Obviously we think that kites are an example of a great mechanism to help facilitate imaginative learning.

Kites have been around since 200 BC, and are a great jumping off point for a variety of historical moments. Plus, they’re fun! Students of all ages and abilities will have a blast while learning about the past.

For inspiration, check out National Kite Month’s Five People Who Flew Kites and Changed History or their timeline of historic kite events. You can even have your students use kites to make up their own momentous discoveries. The options are endless!

And with our affordable, easy to use kite kits, it’s easy to bring intentional playing into your classroom, and to challenge your students’ thinking, broaden their understanding and spark a passion for learning. Find out more about our kite kits, or contact us today!

What’s an awesome lesson or project you’ve used to ignite kids’ imaginations?


Update: I found this quote from Lauren Bacall as I was looking for images for this post: “imagination is the highest kite one can fly.”  Any thoughts?  I’ll have to use that in a future post!



Image courtesy of Juliana Coutinho.