Easy Kitemaking: How to Build a Pyramid Kite

Updated on January 11, 2015

The Tetrahedral Kite: Easy to Make, Easy to Fly!

There are many kite designs, but the pyramid kite is easy to make and a fun project for kids. I made my first one in second grade (Thank you, Mrs. Mckee, wherever you are). My homemade kite lasted for almost ten years of blustery springs spent bashing into a cornfield.

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a...

flying pyramid?

I've called it a "pyramid kite" since I was a kid, but it's really a tetrahedral kite. The shape is a tetrahedron, which is just one kind of pyramid. But if you need to build a pyramid a school project, hang on! I've also created a How to Make an Egyptian Pyramid tutorial for you-- check it out!

But hopefully you're here to make a kite. So, let's get started!

Video: Flying My Pyramid Kite

Don't worry, this kite isn't really that close to the tree.

Sorry about the silly music. The wind blasted my mike with static, so I had to swap the audio. (It's Wagner's Flight of the Valkyries.)

Materials You'll Need to Build This Kite

Materials For Making a Kite
Materials For Making a Kite

  • 24 plastic drinking straws

  • spool of kitestring or kitchen string

  • large sewing needle (** or chopstick + twistie -- see below)

  • strong, light tissue paper or mylar (Colored plastic wrap found in party stores works nicely, but tug on it to make sure it doesn't tear easily. Regular printer paper or wrapping paper is too heavy.)

  • craft glue (I use rubber cement, but there's safer craft glues for kids)
**NOTE: See "Extra Help if you can't find a big needle, or if the store only has bendy straws.

Instructions for Making Kite

Drawn on a Mac LC in 1993. Old webpage is old. :)
Drawn on a Mac LC in 1993. Old webpage is old. :)

  1. String three plastic drinking straws together to form a triangle. The easiest way is to give your thread extra slack, use a heavy needle, and drop it down through one straw, letting gravity do the work for you. Tie the triangle's ends together securely, leaving as little slack as possible.

  2. Thread and tie on two more straws to form a second triangle, using one of the first three straws for one side of the triangle. Then tie one more straw between the outer corner of the two triangles to form the back of the pyramid. Again, don't tie the thread so tightly that the straws bend, but don't leave so much give that your pyramid flops. It should stand up on its own once you've got all six straws in place.

  3. Place your pyramid on your paper or wrap of choice. Trace or cut out a triangle about half an inch larger than the pyramid's base, nipping off the corners as shown. The shape is like the orange safety triangles on slow-moving vehicles. If this is an activity for children, you may want to prepare a cardboard pattern ahead of time which they can trace and copy. Repeat to get a second triangle.

  4. For each of two sides of the pyramid: Curl the edges of the paper triangle over and around the straws, then secure with rubber cement.

Photo Guide: Making a Pyramid Kite

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Make triangle base.Trace on stiff piece of junk mail for template. Set aside.Note I'm leaving lots of dangly bits. Helpful for tying later.The last straw.Don't tie them together! Paper them first.Leave dangly strings hanging out when papering.Tie tetrahedrons together, oriented same way.
Make triangle base.
Make triangle base.
Trace on stiff piece of junk mail for template. Set aside.
Trace on stiff piece of junk mail for template. Set aside.
Note I'm leaving lots of dangly bits. Helpful for tying later.
Note I'm leaving lots of dangly bits. Helpful for tying later.
The last straw.
The last straw.
Don't tie them together! Paper them first.
Don't tie them together! Paper them first.
Leave dangly strings hanging out when papering.
Leave dangly strings hanging out when papering.
Tie tetrahedrons together, oriented same way.
Tie tetrahedrons together, oriented same way.

5. Repeat steps 1-4, to create three more pyramids, each with two sides covered with paper.Stack the four individual pyramids into one large pyramid: three on the bottom, one on top.

6. Orient all of them in the same direction, so that, for instance, the papered sides on all of them are on the left and right. (They're like the wings of birds flying in formation. If they're facing different directions, the wind won't be able to pass through freely.)

7. When you've got all the pyramids arranged properly, tie together all the corners that touch, double and triple knotting, just to make sure.

8. Attach your kitestring to one of the corners where two sides of paper meet, as shown in the diagram, and you're done!

If you want to be ambitious, you can make three more kites like this one, then tie them together to build a giant kite! Ever heard of fractals? You can just keep repeating the same pattern, larger and larger, to make the Great Pyramid!

TIP 2010: This kite can be feisty in strong winds (see video above). I find it fun, but you might want to make a detachable tail for stability. Add a string loop on the "downwind" corner of the kite. Then cut a separate string as a tail. Tie cloth ribbons to it, or some other sort of weight like beads or paper clips. Tie a paper clip to one end of the tail to use as a fastener. That way you can add or remove the tail as needed.

Making Your Kite: Extra Help - Improvising Alternate Materials

Extra materials for making kite
Extra materials for making kite

The twistie needle is probably more "kid safe" than the turkey-lacing needle I used to use. I trimmed a paper-and-wire twistie so that it would fit easily through the straw, then folded the end over to make the eye.

It's also really quick -- drop it in one end of the straw, push it through with a chopstick, grab the end sticking out and repeat.

When trimming bendy straws, use the bottom of the joint as a reference so you cut them all to about the same size.

Photo Gallery: Pyramid Kite in Action - Let's Go Fly a Kite!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Whee! Jacarandas in May rock. (Yes, they really are that color.)George of the Jungle (watch out for that tree)Up in the atmosphere, up where the air is clear...First attempt. I discovered wrapping paper is a little heavy.
Whee! Jacarandas in May rock. (Yes, they really are that color.)
Whee! Jacarandas in May rock. (Yes, they really are that color.)
George of the Jungle (watch out for that tree)
George of the Jungle (watch out for that tree)
Up in the atmosphere, up where the air is clear...
Up in the atmosphere, up where the air is clear...
First attempt. I discovered wrapping paper is a little heavy.
First attempt. I discovered wrapping paper is a little heavy.
Flying Tetrahedral Kite
Flying Tetrahedral Kite

Flying Your Tetrahedral Kite

Show off your homemade kite in a public park, away from trees

I just pick the kite up off the ground by its string and let it go. The wind will flow in the same direction as the string, balancing the two "wings" of each pyramid like the sides of a sailboat sitting on water. It's a very forgiving shape, and the straws tend to bounce rather than break on sharp landings. If one does get bent in a crash, drop a bamboo skewer or a stick through it to splint it.

This kite will fly if the wind is strong enough to blow your hair or ring windchimes fairly steadily.

Did You Know?

The inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, also invented this tetrahedral kite design. In fact, he kept stacking more and more pyramids together, trying to make a glider big enough to work as an ultralight plane!

Sierpinski Triangle Video

Sierpinski's Triangle - Fractal Math

When building tetrahedral kites, you can make them larger and larger by adding more and more tetrahedrons (those pyramid shapes). That's what Bell did to make his kite-airplane.

Mathematicians LOVE processes like this. They call it iteration, meaning "repeating the same steps over and over." Sierpinski's Gasket is what happens when, instead of stacking triangles on top of each other, you make triangles inside each and every triangle. Watch this -- turn down the sound first, if you're in a library!

(Teachers and students, check out this cool Sierpinski's Triangle activity.)

A Pocket Kite -- Always Ready! - A unique, compact kite that's almost indestructable

House of Marbles Miniature Pocket Kite
House of Marbles Miniature Pocket Kite

Okay, I confess -- I don't always fly pyramid kites. I actually collect a lot of different kites. Some are gorgeous, shaped like dragons or phoenixes or ships! But they take a lot of wind, a lot of space, and I don't take them out very often.

This one I do. I keep it in the trunk of my car. It rolls up and fits in the bottom of a backpack. It's stable, tough, forgiving, and can do simple stunts (figure 8s, S-curves) once you get the feel for it. Best of all -- no struts, so it can't break! If it crashes, it just collapses like a sack; shake the sand off and it's ready to go again. Mine has lasted for fifteen years.

 

Questions & Answers

    © 2007 Ellen Brundige

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    • profile image

      lexix 

      18 months ago

      ok i like it

    • profile image

      Davide 

      3 years ago

      "Did you know?" The inventor of the telephone was Antonio Meucci. Alexander Graham Bell only had the pantent. Btw nice tutorial

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      5 years ago from USA

      I actually found this one You Tube and decided to come visit. Great kite.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      this is a good idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • bluelily lm profile image

      bluelily lm 

      5 years ago

      Flying kite is a joy in itself but built one and then testing it indeed a delightful thing to do. And your pyramid shaped kite is bit unconventional but I'm sure once soars high up in the sky, you get the full satisfaction for the time and energy invested in making it.

    • LoriBeninger profile image

      LoriBeninger 

      5 years ago

      I'll have to try making one of these with my granddaughters! Great lens, thank you.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 

      5 years ago

      Pinning this to share with others.

    • GregoryMoore profile image

      Gregory Moore 

      5 years ago from Louisville, KY

      This looks like a fun project to do with the kids!

    • katiecolette profile image

      katiecolette 

      5 years ago

      Great tutorial! Sharing this lens on my "Things to do with kids" Pinterest board.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Thanks for the kite idea. Will have a go and share with our children for our VBS, in Wales and England.

    • Northerntrials profile image

      Northerntrials 

      5 years ago

      Nice lens... I'll take some ideas from for mine. Great video. I'll try that.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      My kids are going to love trying this out! ThAnks for the informative lens!

    • AshleyCarew1 profile image

      AshleyCarew1 

      5 years ago

      My nephew would love building this!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      nice tutorial

    • mythphile profile imageAUTHOR

      Ellen Brundige 

      6 years ago from California

      @anonymous: Thanks so much for the kind thought, Charlotte, but I'd actually rather you didn't pin this.

      There are other bookmarking sites like Facebook and Twitter that don't steal full-sized copies of people's photos, allow them to be shared around without credit, divert traffic away from the website the photo was taken from, and allow other people to embed "pinned" photos on their website and make money on them. Unfortunately, Pinterest does all of the above. So I'd prefer people not pin my photos and art.

      But I really appreciate your generosity in wanting to share! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I want to pin this on pinterest but there's no button....i'm new at pinterest ....can bookmark this but would rather share it there....can you help?

    • HomeDecorKnight profile image

      HomeDecorKnight 

      6 years ago

      Wow! great idea to make a pyramidkite. Great lens with great presentation.

    • nolinel lm profile image

      nolinel lm 

      6 years ago

      I want to try to build a kite - one day :-)

    • jasminedessy profile image

      jasminedessy 

      6 years ago

      What a Brilliant idea behind pyramid kite-making

      fantastic lens ... i like it & love it

    • profile image

      robertzimmerman2 

      6 years ago

      Great and informative Lens! Kites are fun!

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 

      6 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      What a beautiful kite and a super presentation. Thanks

    • profile image

      ddalgleish 

      6 years ago

      Great instructions and background information, thanks! I look forward to making, and flying, one of these kites.

    • profile image

      NC Shepherd 

      6 years ago

      This is cool! I have to try this! It annoys me that it's so hard to find non-bendy straws these days. I have a project with straws, and when I finally found straight ones, I bought several packs.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      This kite looks so cool. I will have to try it. Your instructions are very good. Thanks for a great lens and congrats on the purple star.

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 

      6 years ago

      These are beautiful kites! My dad loved to fly kites, and we had a huge collection of them when I was a child, but I haven't held a kite string in years! I may have to make one of these to take to the beach!

    • ronny vandergunst profile image

      ronny vandergunst 

      6 years ago

      really nice for my kids, thnx

    • profile image

      karinakarina44 

      6 years ago

      Excellent post:!!! clear instructions with photos!!! no probs! I used a recycled plastic bag from a local sports shop!! it is a non biodegradable one so saved it from going in the bin !!! i used sellotape to stick it as it stuck well!! This one will be done tomorrow at the out of school club I work at in France, we are studying the wind!! and making things that fly so this was perfect!! thankyou again for such clear instructions and the photos!! they certainly help!! Oh just a tip that my 10 year old gave me, she said why don't you use the freezer bag ties to join it all together instead of string it will be easier!! you know what she was right lol!!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      6 years ago

      This is incredible - I have never seen this and really want to try it out. People fly kites here all the time around the Bay area. I haven't flown one in years, this looks like the perfect kite to try it out with.

    • yourselfempowered profile image

      Odille Rault 

      6 years ago from Gloucester

      It's been such a long time since my son flew a kite... I think the time has come to do it again! ;) And the winds have just started picking up speed here now, so it's good timing! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I totally remember making one of these in 5th grade. It took forever.

      I think my parents still have the kite in their garage though 20 years later.

      I remember needing lots of wind to get it up in the air.

      A while ago i made a big Parafoil Kite out of Tyvek. It's the white plastic they use to wrap houses in. It worked great, it was free and super strong.

      Here's what the kite looked like: http://davewirth.blogspot.com/2012/04/diy-how-to-m...

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      My boys and I will give this a try! Love the simple instructions. I think even I could follow them!

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 

      6 years ago

      What a brilliant idea! And these kites are so beautiful! Will try making one!

    • Markstuffnmore profile image

      Markstuffnmore 

      6 years ago

      I'm going to try it, I love kites!

    • Ram Ramakrishnan profile image

      Ram Ramakrishnan 

      6 years ago

      In many shapes, colors, and sizes come kites;

      It is a pleasure to watch them soar.

      Carry our aspirations with them, they do;

      Kite-flying is a joy and much more!

    • HomeschooledKid1 profile image

      HomeschooledKid1 

      6 years ago

      Nice lens! Very interesting kites. (I'll have to make my own!)

    • profile image

      brynimagire 

      6 years ago

      Fantastic video sharing. Great lens!

    • RCGraphicsDesign profile image

      RCGraphicsDesign 

      6 years ago

      I know what I will be doing with the grandkids this weekend. Thanks for a great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      thanks for the awesome idea for making kite............

    • Hagglecoins profile image

      Hagglecoins 

      6 years ago

      My kids will surely love this project, after the snow melts anyhow!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      This project is AWESOME! It looks soooo cool! I was wondering if I wax paper would be a good paper to use. I don't have anything else that would work.

      Again, thank you for the guide. The instructions are very clear and easy to follow. Really excited to get started!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Thank you. I have found our weekend project. This should be a lot of fun. Great lens. I love how organized it is.

    • WaynesWorld LM profile image

      WaynesWorld LM 

      6 years ago

      Great project for my son and I for this spring.

    • profile image

      phoenix3423 

      6 years ago

      thanks for the great idea going to build this with kids tomorrow need to buy supplies today while at school

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 

      7 years ago

      I love this kite building lens! Haven't attempted to make a kite since I was a child and back then it was a huge FAIL! :) Now I have these great instructions. thanks.

    • profile image

      SIALicenceUK 

      7 years ago

      Have bookmarked for future reference, thinking of building one with the kids on the weekend. Thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      MagicBeanDip 

      7 years ago

      What a fun kite! I'd be looking around the house for kite building supplies if is wasn't so chilly out.

    • MelissaInTheSky profile image

      MelissaInTheSky 

      7 years ago

      What a great lens! I am bookmarking this so I can try it in the Spring. (It is too windy here in the Fall and too cold in the Winter!)

      You are a SquidInspiration to me! :)

      Thank you so much for blessing my new OWS lens. I really appreciate the support.

      Best wishes,

      Melissa

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 

      7 years ago from Virginia

      I really need to go fly a kite! Great lens! This is about one of my favorite low cost activities as a child. It took goldenrod, newsprint and flour and water but it made majic. I hope to make and fly one soon. Thanks for sharing such a worthy lens!

    • fireblazzer profile image

      fireblazzer 

      7 years ago

      i always wanted a kite... i think i had one as a kid.. but never was allowed to take it outa the box or fly it =(

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      7 years ago

      This is really neat - I don't have a kit making lens or tips to share - I'd never heard of the tetrahedral type kite.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      Great lens, I love the things you have.

    • Zen Automat profile image

      Zen Automat 

      7 years ago from New Hampshire

      Great lens, I was transported in memory to kites and childhood. thanks

    • efriedman profile image

      efriedman 

      7 years ago

      Well done!

    • julietarot lm profile image

      julietarot lm 

      7 years ago

      This is a brilliant lens- I love the originality of the twistie needle and the end product looks so good.

    • wolley811 profile image

      wolley811 

      7 years ago

      Wow. Kitemaking has never been my hobby, but I love your lens! This will come in handy as my 3-year-old is starting to discover kites! Thanks!

    • Eighteen18 profile image

      Eighteen18 

      7 years ago

      wow!!! MUST show this to my husband! He is a geometric model geek..and this is just amazing!

    • profile image

      KarenCookieJar 

      7 years ago

      Really neat project, love the kite.

    • AbhinavB LM profile image

      AbhinavB LM 

      7 years ago

      I like your writing style and indepth step by step guide....

    • heehaw lm profile image

      heehaw lm 

      7 years ago

      great lens and guides of building this kite.

    • profile image

      promotional-coupons-codes 

      7 years ago

      Nice Information going to try this design this season.

    • Philippians468 profile image

      Philippians468 

      7 years ago

      i love this special kite! never imagined a three dimensional kite to be possible! cheers

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 

      7 years ago

      Lovely lens

    • EvaVarga profile image

      Eva Varga 

      7 years ago from NorCal

      I"ve been looking for these instructions FOREVER!! Thank you soooooo much!!

    • profile image

      Trendblazers 

      7 years ago

      sounds like a great activity formy daughter and I to get stuck into!

    • profile image

      jemorales 

      7 years ago

      Great lens..I will follow these instruction to make this kite one of these days for my cousin..:):)

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 

      7 years ago from Australia

      I love this kite! I've never made one like this but it looks like something our homeschool co-op group would like to make.

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 

      7 years ago

      It is time to introduce my children to kites! Had forgotten how fun it can be.

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 

      7 years ago

      This is something I'm very interested to make. Great lens by the way.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      7 years ago from United States

      Oh, my! What a great project and instructions! The men in my family will love this and I will delight in helping them make kites :)

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 

      7 years ago

      Fabulous idea. Great for younger people, such as Chris.

    • profile image

      sig2k30 

      7 years ago

      there always kite season in my town

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 

      7 years ago

      I'll give it a go, soon. Thanks!

    • javr profile image

      javr 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love kites. This kite looks great and could be doubled in size! Or tripled! How many triangles in a case of straws? Blessed by another Squid Angel.

    • profile image

      KDimmick 

      7 years ago

      Great lens! Blessed by an angel

    • bt55 profile image

      bt55 

      7 years ago

      Very educational. I like it. A great project for parents and kids

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      Fun Lens!

    • EdTecher profile image

      Heidi Reina 

      8 years ago from USA

      love this kite-making lens. my daughter and her friends are always looking for fun projects. i'm sure she'll want to give this a try.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      I never even thought about making a Kite out of Straws, I have always used Popcicle Sticks! Straws are an even better idea, they are much lighter. Thanks for sharing this!

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 

      8 years ago

      When I was a kid, we made our own simple kites with glue, thin barbeque sticks, rice paper, and kite tails out of crepe paper. After tying the string to the crossed section of the bamboo sticks, we would launch the kites in a field and watch them soar. It was great fun.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      Really nice kite-must try to make one for my neice!

    • profile image

      kt_glasses 

      8 years ago

      it looks not so difficult to make a nice kite~Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      Like the lens, I have not flown a kite in many years but I spent a lot of time as a boy flying kites in the Arizona desert, lots of room to fly.

    • profile image

      paul101239 

      8 years ago

      Very informative lens! good job!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      How cool is this! Great lens and easy to follow, I must show Rick so he can make me one, especially since we usually have gale force winds most days LOL - Kathy

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      Well this is definitely one I should show to my hubby, but not until he has fixed a dripping tap and the shower!

      I should think he would love to build his own kite :)

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 

      8 years ago

      Congrats on you Purple Star. Blessed.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      8 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Now I wish I'd seen this when my daughter was young - she loved flying kites and would have loved this pyramid kite.

    • nukemdomis lm profile image

      nukemdomis lm 

      8 years ago

      Nice instructions. I am going to try this for sure.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      Blessed this one too!

    • mythphile profile imageAUTHOR

      Ellen Brundige 

      8 years ago from California

      @Stazjia: Excellent! I think that's what I like most about the web and Squidoo -- if you know something unique and useful, you can put it out there for the folks it's useful for.

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 

      8 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      With these instructions I can make a kite with my young nephew which is really going to improve my status with him. Blessed by an Angel.

    • profile image

      Obscure_Treasures 

      8 years ago

      You have lots of good ideas here!I love all your recommendations!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 

      8 years ago

      Ah, so when somebody tell me to "go fly a kite" I now know a great resource for making said kite for flying. Bravo on a pleasing presentation AND that purple star!

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 

      8 years ago

      I like this lens. I'm always fascinated by making kites. 5* and fav'd it. :)

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 

      8 years ago

      When I was in high school my boyfriend and I made a kite of dry cleaner bags and light wood. It flew too!

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 

      9 years ago from USA

      Hi! Cool site! I will do this with my homeschooled son. I just twittered this page & gve you 5 stars!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      omg!! I'm doi'n a kite maki'n project and this has tought me everythi'n i need to learn!!

      :D

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      I just adore kites! Perfect lens for summer time. I'm going to lens roll this to my Chinese Kites lens. Thanks for sharing! 5 *****

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      Gracias(:

      0ur qeometry project is done!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      i am so happy 2 have found this website!!! it is prefect 4 my math project!!!

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