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...
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
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!
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.
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
© 2007 Ellen Brundige
Reader Feedback - Please Share This Page!
lexix on May 02, 2017:
ok i like it
Davide on April 22, 2015:
"Did you know?" The inventor of the telephone was Antonio Meucci. Alexander Graham Bell only had the pantent. Btw nice tutorial
Fay Favored from USA on November 11, 2013:
I actually found this one You Tube and decided to come visit. Great kite.
anonymous on August 22, 2013:
this is a good idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
bluelily lm on July 21, 2013:
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 on July 18, 2013:
I'll have to try making one of these with my granddaughters! Great lens, thank you.
WriterJanis2 on July 02, 2013:
Pinning this to share with others.
Gregory Moore from Louisville, KY on June 04, 2013:
This looks like a fun project to do with the kids!
katiecolette on May 29, 2013:
Great tutorial! Sharing this lens on my "Things to do with kids" Pinterest board.
anonymous on May 14, 2013:
Thanks for the kite idea. Will have a go and share with our children for our VBS, in Wales and England.
Northerntrials on April 30, 2013:
Nice lens... I'll take some ideas from for mine. Great video. I'll try that.
anonymous on April 06, 2013:
My kids are going to love trying this out! ThAnks for the informative lens!
AshleyCarew1 on November 25, 2012:
My nephew would love building this!
anonymous on November 21, 2012:
Ellen Brundige (author) from California on November 16, 2012:
@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! :)
anonymous on November 16, 2012:
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 on September 19, 2012:
Wow! great idea to make a pyramidkite. Great lens with great presentation.
nolinel lm on September 02, 2012:
I want to try to build a kite - one day :-)
jasminedessy on August 16, 2012:
What a Brilliant idea behind pyramid kite-making
fantastic lens ... i like it & love it
robertzimmerman2 on July 27, 2012:
Great and informative Lens! Kites are fun!
Stephanie Tietjen from Albuquerque, New Mexico on July 25, 2012:
What a beautiful kite and a super presentation. Thanks
ddalgleish on July 25, 2012:
Great instructions and background information, thanks! I look forward to making, and flying, one of these kites.
NC Shepherd on July 24, 2012:
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.
anonymous on July 24, 2012:
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 on June 09, 2012:
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 on June 02, 2012:
really nice for my kids, thnx
karinakarina44 on May 01, 2012:
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!!
Rose Jones on April 26, 2012:
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.
Odille Rault from Gloucester on April 25, 2012:
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! :)
anonymous on April 12, 2012:
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...
anonymous on April 06, 2012:
My boys and I will give this a try! Love the simple instructions. I think even I could follow them!
MelonyVaughan on April 01, 2012:
What a brilliant idea! And these kites are so beautiful! Will try making one!
Markstuffnmore on March 31, 2012:
I'm going to try it, I love kites!
Ram Ramakrishnan on March 31, 2012:
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 on March 28, 2012:
Nice lens! Very interesting kites. (I'll have to make my own!)
brynimagire on March 18, 2012:
Fantastic video sharing. Great lens!
RCGraphicsDesign on March 13, 2012:
I know what I will be doing with the grandkids this weekend. Thanks for a great lens.
anonymous on March 08, 2012:
thanks for the awesome idea for making kite............
Hagglecoins on March 01, 2012:
My kids will surely love this project, after the snow melts anyhow!
anonymous on February 27, 2012:
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!
anonymous on February 23, 2012:
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 on December 03, 2011:
Great project for my son and I for this spring.
phoenix3423 on December 02, 2011:
thanks for the great idea going to build this with kids tomorrow need to buy supplies today while at school
fullofshoes on November 18, 2011:
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.
SIALicenceUK on November 04, 2011:
Have bookmarked for future reference, thinking of building one with the kids on the weekend. Thanks for sharing
MagicBeanDip on October 22, 2011:
What a fun kite! I'd be looking around the house for kite building supplies if is wasn't so chilly out.
MelissaInTheSky on October 16, 2011:
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.
E L Seaton from Virginia on August 29, 2011:
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 on August 28, 2011:
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 on August 20, 2011:
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.
anonymous on August 10, 2011:
Great lens, I love the things you have.
Zen Automat from New Hampshire on July 29, 2011:
Great lens, I was transported in memory to kites and childhood. thanks
efriedman on June 24, 2011:
julietarot lm on June 13, 2011:
This is a brilliant lens- I love the originality of the twistie needle and the end product looks so good.
wolley811 on May 18, 2011:
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 on May 18, 2011:
wow!!! MUST show this to my husband! He is a geometric model geek..and this is just amazing!
KarenCookieJar on May 14, 2011:
Really neat project, love the kite.
AbhinavB LM on May 09, 2011:
I like your writing style and indepth step by step guide....
heehaw lm on April 25, 2011:
great lens and guides of building this kite.
promotional-coupons-codes on April 19, 2011:
Nice Information going to try this design this season.
Philippians468 on April 13, 2011:
i love this special kite! never imagined a three dimensional kite to be possible! cheers
MargoPArrowsmith on April 02, 2011:
Eva Varga from Oregon on March 21, 2011:
I"ve been looking for these instructions FOREVER!! Thank you soooooo much!!
Trendblazers on March 19, 2011:
sounds like a great activity formy daughter and I to get stuck into!
jemorales on March 17, 2011:
Great lens..I will follow these instruction to make this kite one of these days for my cousin..:):)
Jeanette from Australia on March 11, 2011:
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 on February 14, 2011:
It is time to introduce my children to kites! Had forgotten how fun it can be.
lasertek lm on January 24, 2011:
This is something I'm very interested to make. Great lens by the way.
Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on January 14, 2011:
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 on January 11, 2011:
Fabulous idea. Great for younger people, such as Chris.
sig2k30 on January 05, 2011:
there always kite season in my town
ChrisDay LM on December 29, 2010:
I'll give it a go, soon. Thanks!
javr from British Columbia, Canada on December 10, 2010:
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.
KDimmick on December 06, 2010:
Great lens! Blessed by an angel
bt55 on November 27, 2010:
Very educational. I like it. A great project for parents and kids
anonymous on October 27, 2010:
Heidi Reina from USA on October 23, 2010:
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.
anonymous on October 16, 2010:
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 on October 15, 2010:
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.
anonymous on October 15, 2010:
Really nice kite-must try to make one for my neice!
kt_glasses on October 12, 2010:
it looks not so difficult to make a nice kite~Thanks for sharing.
anonymous on October 09, 2010:
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.
paul101239 on September 27, 2010:
Very informative lens! good job!
anonymous on September 25, 2010:
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
anonymous on September 16, 2010:
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 on September 13, 2010:
Congrats on you Purple Star. Blessed.
Jennifer P Tanabe from Red Hook, NY on September 12, 2010:
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 on September 08, 2010:
Nice instructions. I am going to try this for sure.
anonymous on September 08, 2010:
Blessed this one too!
Ellen Brundige (author) from California on September 05, 2010:
@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.
Carol Fisher from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK on September 05, 2010:
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.
Obscure_Treasures on August 22, 2010:
You have lots of good ideas here!I love all your recommendations!
julieannbrady on May 26, 2010:
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!
ohcaroline on April 22, 2010:
I like this lens. I'm always fascinated by making kites. 5* and fav'd it. :)
Dianne Loomos on November 21, 2009:
When I was in high school my boyfriend and I made a kite of dry cleaner bags and light wood. It flew too!
JJNW from USA on August 09, 2009:
Hi! Cool site! I will do this with my homeschooled son. I just twittered this page & gve you 5 stars!
anonymous on May 31, 2009:
omg!! I'm doi'n a kite maki'n project and this has tought me everythi'n i need to learn!!
anonymous on May 25, 2009:
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 *****
anonymous on March 20, 2009:
0ur qeometry project is done!
anonymous on March 02, 2009:
i am so happy 2 have found this website!!! it is prefect 4 my math project!!!