Teachers at Lockwood Elementary, a K-6 school in the Northshore District, Bothell, Washington, are collaborating with the Drachen Foundation to develop and test a series of lessons about kites at each grade level (except Kindergarten). Lessons are integrated with science, social studies, and/or language arts units about bugs and beetles; butterflies; Japanese culture; Pacific Northwest studies; scientific variables; and flight.
To find an elementary school teaching staff willing to dedicate the time and energy to pilot new curriculum, Drachen’s Educational Programs director, Cathy Palmer, turned to longtime friend Marte Peet, fourth/fifth grade teacher at Lockwood, past president of the Washington State Council for the Social Studies, and unflagging champion of novel, multicultural education. Marte built enthusiasm for the idea by encouraging many classrooms to participate in DF’s Guatemala Project in October 2005. Parents turned out in droves to help, and sunshine “sealed the deal,” as students were rewarded for their efforts with a light breeze for flying.
In January teachers met in grade-level teams with Cathy to discuss which curricula offered the best opportunities for integrating kite projects. Drachen commissioned kite designer Greg Kono to create new kites for five of the six projects (third-graders used the existing Yoshizumi Fish Kite Kit. Beetle, Butterfly, and Salmon kites are now available in 10-pack kits; all kites will eventually be available both in inexpensive kits (complete with bamboo spars and line with winders) and for free download.
Special thanks to Principal Ann Madsen for her support of this project, and to the team leaders at each grade level. The group plans to continue its partnership in school year 2006-07 to refine teaching materials and add new lessons. Links to descriptions of the projects at each grade, and accompanying lesson plans, will be posted as finished.