Wind and Water Family Fun

7 Reasons To Fly A Kite With Your Family This Fall

7 Reasons To Fly A Kite With Your Family This Fall

Children are spending less time outdoors these days. The scientific evidence is compelling; we need to balance screen time with green time.

This article introduces some excellent, and surprising, reasons to get into the wind and fly a kite this fall.

  1. Reduce Stress Levels

Spending time outdoors is great outlet for stress as science is confirming.  The University of Colorado studied the effects of green schoolyards on stress in 2011 and found that this environment did indeed reduce the stress levels of children.

An increasingly popular alternate treatment for children with ADHD is a technique called “green time” or “green space therapy.” This simply involves playing outdoors or doing something that takes place anywhere outside, whether it is a park or backyard.  Scientists believe that this can increase a child’s attention span by reducing the distractions that normally occur in their daily life.

The American Journal of Public Health confirmed this in a study of 452 children with ADHD and their parents. The parents believed, without exception, that the symptoms of the children improved with “green time”.

An estimated 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The stress hormone cortisol was measured in 25 Scottish adults in a study published in Landscape and Urban Planning. Here again it was determined that people living in greener places had less of this hormone.



  1. Strengthen The Family Bond

I think common sense would tell us that this is true but there’s ample scientific research to back it up. Here are a few examples:


  • Outdoor recreation helps maintain and increase the cohesiveness in families, according to P. C. West. and L. C. Merriam, L.C. Jr. (2009). “Outdoor Recreation and Family Cohesiveness: A Research Approach.” Journal of Leisure Research, 41 (3), 351-359.)


  • These professors at Brigham Young came to the same conclusion. “Therapeutic recreation is an excellent modality for promoting healthy communication within families, particularly when therapy involves placing families in naturally challenging outdoor recreation.”

The Influence of Challenging Outdoor Recreation on Parent-Adolescent               Communication     , January 15, 2003, Christy Huff Mark Widmer, Kelly McCoy (Brigham Young University)  Therapeutic Recreation Journal 2003



  • Playing outdoors can help foster a love of physical activity in children, and it also pushes adults to engage physical exercises as well, suggests psychologist Debbie Glasser in her article "Preschoolers Need More Outdoor Play with Parents.” This is especially true when families perform activities that require everyone to get involved, such as hiking or playing hide and seek. Games that involve teams come with an added benefit, as they encourage family bonding.


So yes, flying a kite with the family can bring everyone closer together.


  1. Increase Vitamin D Levels


The primary way we get our Vitamin D is by exposure to direct sunlight. Increasing your Vitamin D level not only reduces your risk for chronic diseases like cancer but also your risk of the common cold or flu.


Get out in the sun and increase your Vitamin D level! There will be fewer sniffles in the house.



  1. Increase Cognitive Function


Cognitive functions are mental processes that allow us to carry out any task, such as memory, orientation, gnosis, attention, praxis or language, according to  Again, studies show that these abilities are enhanced by outdoor activities. For example:

Outdoor activities not only enhance your ability to learn but also develops self-discipline as revealed in "Going Green Benefits Physical, Mental Health" by Rich Naubert at

Amanda Espinoza has written an excellent article on the subject as well. See Family Outdoors .

5.    Physical Benefits

I was surprised to learn that one of the physical benefits of outdoor activity was improved vision.


A study published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology found that kids who spend time playing outside are at a reduced risk of developing "myopia," or nearsightedness. A child's chances of developing myopia dropped by two percent for each additional hour spent outdoors, per week, the study found. So, getting kids to spend more time outdoors could be a "simple strategy" to reduce the progression and development of nearsightedness in children.

Of course there are the obvious cardio vascular and musculoskeletal benefits that come with physical exercise and we have already mentioned the Vitamin D benefit.

  1. STEM Lesson

Kites and airplanes are heavier-than-air object that are fly by the lift created by air in motion over their wings. An airplane relies on thrust from its engines. A kite is tethered in place and needs moving air (wind) to fly.

Wind moving across the sail of a kite creates pressure. Lift results from this wind pressure being deflected along the face of the kite. In other words, the wind pushes up on the kite. Think of wind pressure like a hand, pushing the kite up into the sky and holding it there. If the hand is removed, the kite will fall.

At the same time, wind passing over the top of the kite creates an area of low pressure, like a vacuum, along the back of the kite. This creates a pull from behind.

Check this link from the American Kiteflyers Association to learn more:

Why Kites Fly


  1. Kiting Is A Great Hobby!

Look at all you can do with a kite:

  • First popularized in the late 80s and early 90s, team flying (3 or more pilots) with dual and quad line kites has reached global proportions with the World Sport Kite Championships, indoor kite team shows and even world record mega flies with over 60 pilots flying their kites in formation under a single leader.

Not unlike a Blue Angels type of group, sport kite teams use pre-planned maneuvers and a series of commands from the lead pilot, giving them the ability to perform extremely complex routines which are fully choreographed to music of their own choosing.


  • Kite Aerial Photography is a unique art with a view from above.  With a kite in the air, a camera is suspended from the flying line and takes photos with an unusual perspective. Anyone with the right equipment (a parafoil kite and a mini camera, for example, can hoist a camera and the results can be stunning, colorful and unusual.


  • Kids Family Kite Games

At a kite festival near you, you can join in on all kinds of activities such as Kite Making, Highest Flying Kite, Bol Races, Teddy Bear Drops, Candy Drops and more.


  • Kite Festivals

A search on kite festivals brings up almost 4 million websites. I’m sure you’ll find one near you and they look like a lot of fun.


So if you’re ready to get started the best kite flying places are an open beach, park or field without trees or power lines. Upwind obstacles such as trees or houses can create air turbulence that can make launching or flying your kite difficult. It is possible to fly in turbulent wind but the more open area you have upwind, the smoother the wind will be, which is why ocean beaches or large lakes are so popular for kite flying.

Being comfortable is also important; here are a few things that you might find useful:

  • Snacks for the “kids” – big and small…
  • First Aid Kit
  • Sun umbrella or canopy
  • Chairs for the old folk…
  • Gloves to protect your hands when handling strong pulling kites.
  • No wind toys like Frisbees.
  • Camera – you never know what you might capture on film!


I hope we’ve convinced you to get outdoors and fly a kite this fall. Please check out our supply of easy-to-fly family friendly kites at Kites at Wind and Water Toys .


Geocaching  New High Tech Treasure Hunt

Geocaching New High Tech Treasure Hunt

Here’s a fun, family-friendly way to exercise both mind and body. Geocaching: the fast growing sport of the modern-day treasure hunt.

Instead of a pirate’s map marked with an X, you’ll use a GPS receiver, a set of coordinates and (optionally) clues. You won’t be hunting for a buried chest but instead you'll be looking for a cache of goodies hidden in an eco-friendly site above ground.

What’s A CACHE?

Geocachers have hidden caches all over the world. They are contained in a waterproof box and consist of trinkets (no you won’t get rich), a logbook with pen or pencil, and maybe a disposable camera.

These prizes are then cleverly hidden in both urban and rural areas; you’ll be amazed at how many of these treasure troves are already hidden in your locale. I have discovered that there are over 954 caches in Amsterdam, NY, a nearby city.

You can find the geographical coordinates for these trinket hordes on several websites. One of the most popular is .

Visitors are free to take items from the stash provided they leave something behind. Cache treasures are known in the hobby as swag. Coins, small toys, ornamental buttons, CDs, or books are common swag items.

"Hitchhikers" are objects that are moved from cache to cache called Travel Bugs or Geo coins. Their travels may be logged and followed online.  Cachers who initially place a Travel Bug or Geo coin often assign specific goals for their trackable items. Examples of goals are to be placed in a certain cache a long distance from home, or to travel to a certain country, or to travel faster and farther than other hitchhikers in a race.

Getting Started

Login to and you will find the coordinates for over 3 million caches! There are no dues to pay or clubs to join (although they are available). Simply get your coordinates and begin the hunt. Even the most basic handheld GPS will suffice to lead you to the coordinates of the geocache. You’ll also want a local map since there is not likely to be a straight path between those coordinates. You need a map to select your route. There are of course more sophisticated GPS models that allow you to load a map into the unit; you can check out the unit’s at the site’s Shopping section.

The easiest and most common form of coordinates is the latitude and longitude of the cache which you will get from the website. You will input these to your handheld GPS and off you go.

When you find a cache you will also find a logbook to sign to prove you’ve been there for purposes of the game.


Standard Equipment *

A GPS receiver and a topo map are required. These items will come in handy and ensure your safety:

  • Flashlight Be prepared in case dark falls before you expect it.
  • Water bottle Stay well hydrated. It’s good for you!
  • Cell Phone Give your planned itinerary to someone and bring along a phone.
  • First aid kit Always a good idea.
  • Insect repellant and sunscreen there’s bugs in dem dar woods.
  • Extra batteries carry them for each electronic device that you have.
  • Outerwear:Always a good idea in case the weather changes.
  • Notebook and 2 pens:Keep a running log of all your caches. Record waypoints and coordinates for future reference. Jot down your impressions of the landscape. Take along a spare pen or pencil not just for yourself but also for the cache in case its pen has run dry.
  • Cache treasures:Cache finders will want to leave behind a little token (as well as take one as a souvenir). Think small, lightweight, environmentally (and culturally) friendly, inexpensive and nondegradable ideas: toy cars, tiny plastic action figures or marbles are good examples.

*REI Outdoor School

How Much Do Receivers Cost

Garmin dominates this field and they offer handheld GPS products with geocaches pre-loaded into the device as well as devices that can receive downloads directly from Prices on the Garmin website range from $109 to $999. Amazon offers Garmin and Magellan beginner models for around $80.


Why Geocache

Here are some thoughts I gleaned from a geocacher blog:

Discovery and adventure still exit in the world!

It gets you outside!

Great way to stay healthy and have fun!

Fun for the whole family!

See the world!

Discover places at home you never knew about!

Learn fun facts about planet earth and give back too!

You’ll be amazed by the work of artists and engineers and the amazing caches they create. I saw one that looked like a public telephone hidden in plain site on a city street!

Make knew friend, perhaps a new love?

You’ll be challenged physically and mentally with moments of peace and serenity as well.

Gain a life time of stories to tell!


Geocaching was originally similar to the 160-year-old game letterboxing, which uses clues and references to landmarks embedded in stories. Geocaching was conceived shortly after the removal of Selective Availability from the Global Positioning System on May 2, 2000, because the improved accuracy of the system allowed for a small container to be specifically placed and located. The first documented placement of a GPS-located cache took place on May 3, 2000, by Dave Ulmer.

A video, a sling shot and a can of beans were among the first cache items.

Over time, a variety of different hide-and-seek-type activities have been created or abandoned, so that "geocaching" may now refer to hiding and seeking containers, or locations or information without containers.

Geocaching Etiquette

This can be easily summarized as leave any geocaching location better than you found it, stay on designated trails and don’t trespass.

It is also good form to sign the register of the cache and record your visit on as well.

As previously mentioned, you may take a trinket from the cache but it is expected that you will leave on of greater value.

Don’t move the cache to a spot you think is better; it should be left where you find it.

Cache in Trash Out is a geocaching organization dedicated to maintain the natural beauty of geocache locations. So far, 240,000 people have volunteered for over 11,000 CITI events. Learn more at CITI’s website CITI .

If you are looking for an inexpensive handheld GPS you’ll find one in our store if you click this link GPS Tracker .

Please visit us at .


Power Kites

Power Kites

   This is the first edition of our blog “Wind and Water Family Fun” where we will focus on outdoor activities for you and your family.

We choose power kiting for the inaugural issue of Wind and Water Family Fun because it offers a new and multi-various opportunity for every family member. The fall and winter are great times to introduce yourself to the Power Kite.

Harness the power of the wind for an exhilarating ride on a kitesurfing kiteboard, kite buggy, kite skates, boat or skies and snowboards. These are the exiting new sports created by power kites.

Power kites are generally used in conjunction with a vehicle or board, such as in:

  • Kitesurfing on a kiteboard
  • Kitebuggying on a purpose-built 3-wheeled cart
  • Kitelandboarding on an all-terrain mountain/landboard
  • Kiteskating on all-terrain roller skates
  • Kite boating, on a boat
  • Snow kiting on Skies or snowboards

Power kites can also be used recreationally without a vehicle or board, as in kite jumping or kite man lifting, where a harnessed kite flier is moored to the ground or one or more people to provide tension and lift.

While basic training and good equipment selection will allow you to direct and use such energy, power kites do have the potential to generate enormous amounts of pull and should be handled with extreme safety.

Check the American Kite flyer’s Association  for tips.


Kitesurfing is a sport where a rider on a surfboard is pulled by a kite. It is perhaps the most difficult of the power kite sports insofar as you are in the surf trying to control the board and the kite. According to Red Bull most beginners have no experience with either a surf board or a kite so lessons are recommended and you should be comfortable swimming.


Learn more from Red Bull at .


Kite Buggying from Wikipedia

Kite Buggying or landboarding is derived from kitesurfing but it’s done on good old terra ferma and is a better choice for autumn. A land boarder uses a mountain board or a land board which are modified skateboards with large pneumatic wheels and foot-straps. Kite landboarding is a growing sport, and there are even competitions and associations dedicated to the sport.

Here’s a great link to learn more  The International Kiteboarding Association.

Kite Buggying Wikipedia

Kite Skating

Kite skating, sometimes referred to as Kiteblading, is a land-based extreme sport that uses powerful and controllable kites to propel riders of inline skates or off-road skates. These skates are skates with large rubber wheels and are priced in the $300 range. They can reach speeds up to 60+mph across parking lots, desert dry lakes, grassy fields, and sandy beaches.

Did you know Popular Science ran a story circa 1900 on how to build a kite that would pull you on ice skates!

Kite Boating

Kite boating, as the name implies, refers to a kite pulling a kayak, canoe or other boat through the water. A relatively large kit is needed for this purpose.

Interestingly, both airborne and underwater kites were used to set the world speed-sailing record at 5o+ knots. The underwater kite works on the same principles as the airborne kite. A kiteboard was the first sailing vessel to exceed 50 knots.

To learn how a kite fly’s see The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

You can gleam a good STEM lesson for the kids from this site. I was surprised to learn that the dynamics of wind and sail cause a sailboat, for example, to be pulled by the wind!

Snow kiting

I’m told that snow kiting is easier to learn than kiteboarding on the water. We can stand on snow and ice for one thing. Also, it takes a lot less wind to pull a person on skis or a snowboard over ice and snow than to pull a surfboard through the water. Less wind is better than roaring wind when learning a new skill.

Turn a cold winter’s day at an icy lake into an adrenalin rush with simple equipment. You can choose to be pulled on skis or a snowboard, most commonly, whichever you prefer. Regular skis and snowboards can be used but increasingly boarders are turning to kite specific snowboards.

As you develop in this sport you’ll probably decide to lean toward cross country or free style and this will dictate specific types of kites and skis.

Consider your athletic ability and skill level. Larger kites generate more power and demand more from you physically. If you are just getting started, the best choice is the smallest kite that will produce enough power to move. Less power is easier to manage, safer and best for beginners.

Furthermore, you will encounter a wide range of wind speeds and one kite will cover them all.  So, start with a smaller kite and then get a larger kite later.

Kite Ice Skating

This is also called para-skating or para ice skating and it is an ice-based sport using a large controllable kite to propel ice skaters across frozen rivers, frozen lakes and other frozen surfaces. So if you have a pair of ice skates you’re good to go when you get a kite. We’ll discuss the kinds of kites to use next.

Which Kite To Use

The most common types of power kites are the foil and the leading edge inflatable. Foil kites consist of a number of cells with cloth ribs in each cell. It is the nature of these ribs that give the kite its aero foil shape and enable it to generate lift. Leading edge inflatable kites (LEIs) are made of a single skin of fabric and they are inflated by the user with a pump. These kites are primarily used for kitesurfing since they retain their shape in water and can be relaunched.

A foil kite will be your choice for the other recreations we have discussed.

Several different control systems are used by power kites. The power kite has between two to five lines, a bar (possibly) and handles.

The kites “angle of attack” is determined by the bridal; the four or five lines that terminate at and attach to different points on the kite. The “angle of attack” can be likened to a line drawn under the belly of an ascending aircraft; that straight line is the angle of attack. The bridal is either fixed or depowerable.

Fixed bridal kites have a fixed “angle of attack” and are not adjustable when airborne.  Fixed bridle kites may be used with handles or a bar. Handles are preferable for activities such as kite jumping (using a power kite and jumping into the air) and kite buggying, a bar is best for kite landboarding.

Depowerable kites are used with a control bar and harness system, with the kite's primary power lines attached to the user's harness through a hole in the center of the bar. The bar has a few inches of travel along the lines, and the lines are configured such that the user may pull the bar towards themselves to increase the kite's angle of attack, increasing the lift and thus the power delivered through the harness whilst the kite is in flight. Kites used for kitesurfing are almost invariably depowerable, and some modern kites such allow power to be reduced by almost 100% for increased safety and versatility.



Today almost all 4 and 5 line kites are used with a safety system designed to remove power from the kite in the event that the user becomes overpowered or loses control of the kite. When flying a fixed bridle kite, one or more straps known as 'kite killers' are attached to the user's wrist(s) by bungee cords. When the handles or bar are released, these straps pull on the kite's brake lines at the trailing edge of the kite, allowing the kite to flap in the wind with no structure.

Depowerable kites have safety systems that work in a similar way, but since the kite is semi-permanently attached to the user's harness, a toggle or handle is used to activate the safety system which releases the bar and power lines from the harness.

Your size and weight are an important consideration of course in selecting a kite. The bigger you are the more sail you will need to pull you around. If you are over 180 lbs. you should be looking at 5.0 sq. meter kites to start with; under that you can go with a 3.5 sq. meter kite.


Power kites open a whole new world for outdoor family entertainment. May we suggest that you begin exploring this exhilarating sport with a paraofoil kite from our store? This kite won’t pull you off the ground but it will familiarize you with the dynamics of the kite and its great fun to fly on an autumn day.

Click this link:










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