An integral part of parenting includes being able to come up with interesting ways to keep the young ones entertained. After all, there are only so many times children can do the same thing at the neighbourhood park before they get bored. So the next time you want them to get out and about with a novel new activity, try kite-flying.

A traditional sport and recreational past-time, kite-flying is believed to have originated in China. Early versions of kites used lightweight silk for the sail and bamboo for the framework. Today, kites are flown all over the world, from Asia to the Middle East and America.

In Singapore, popular kite-flying locations include waterfront hangouts like the East Coast Park, West Coast Park and Sembawang Park. Downtown, the Marina Barrage Green Roof has also become a choice kite-flying venue, where soaring creations take to the skies every weekend.

For an optimal kite-flying experience, you will need a wide, open space outdoors, good weather, wind, lots of enthusiasm and of course, a kite. They are available in all shapes (including cartoon characters), sizes and colours and can easily be bought online. Get your child involved in choosing his own kite, but check that it's a beginner's model. Your kite should come with reel and line. Kites are also available for purchase at Barrage Cove, the Marine Barrage gift shop. If you and your child are feeling crafty, you can buy a plain one and have him colour and decorate it.

The Green Roof at Marina Barrage is ideal for kite-flying as it spans the size of four football fields and offers panoramic views of Singapore's city skyline and the open sea. Organise a family kite-flying outing here, complete with picnic mat and a basket of munchies and drinks for everyone.

Launching the kite in the air requires your child to do a bit of running. He'll be having so much fun trying to do this, he won't realise how much exercise he's packing in. When he finally gets his kite up (with your help), the thrill of seeing something in motion, tossed about by wind power will be an uplifting experience for him. Draw his attention to the different types of kites in the sky. Talk about emotions: how does he feel watching his kite whip this way and that in the sky? Does he feel happy, free, excited? If your child is too young to manage a kite, try tying a long piece of string round a balloon and let junior run with it to keep his balloon bobbing in the air.

After a hot a sweaty workout, your child can cool down by splashing about at the Barrage's children's water play area on Level 1. Bring a change of clothes and towel to accommodate this activity.

Kite-flying safety

The Singapore Kite Association has outlined kite-safety guidelines. Some of these include no flying in thunderstorms; no flying near roads, MRT tracks, trees, power lines and other obstacles. Always fly below 60m and never within 5km of an airport. Kite-flying involves spending time under the sun, so drink plenty of water and apply sunblock.

Contributed by:
Early Childhood Development Agency