We first tried this activity when our daughter was 2. The consummate trooper, nothing fazed her. Nothing, that is, except for the wind. Somehow, the wind had become intolerable, inspiring rather whiney “my cheeks hurt!” complaints. It turns out that wind is off-putting and even scary to lots of kids. So, we began brainstorming to find a way to embrace the wind and decided to make wind flags. They were super easy to make, and we had a blast flipping the script on wind, changing it from a menace to a playful friend.
We have since made wind flags with kids ranging in age from 2-12, using them to go "hunting for the wind" on blustery days. The more flags we make with kids, the more we realize we've stumbled on a gold mine. Not only do wind flags help kids make fast friends with wind, the flags have proven to be magical toys that lead to hours, even days of play. The best part? We adults get to witness and even share in the pure joy that even the most reserved kids openly feel as they run wild with the wind, twirling and whirling their flags.
Although I like to think I am in close touch with my inner child, I am still an adult. And, like so many of us big kids, I had lost touch with the incredible energy in the air on a stormy, windy day. Thankfully, all I've had to do is watch kids wave flags in the wind to remember and to see how such energy inspires pure joy. As if taking a cue from the wind, kids dance, leap, run and squeal, engaging fully in the moment. It's one of the most wonderful chances to RUN and feel free, and most kids grab that chance with both arms. Research shows that this kind of joyful engagement with nature can help people of any age decrease feelings of depression, increase self-esteem, decrease tense feelings, build capacity for empathy and even help us focus for learning. And, if our kids get hooked on nature's positive effects now, they'll have it to turn to throughout life.
Wind flags are also a perfect tool for make believe play. We have seen wind flags transformed into the decoration for a fort or castle, a horse, a witch's broom, the ringmaster's staff in a pretend circus, and more.
Once the flags are made and wind gets into them, kids can watch them, wonder, and experiment, developing curiosity and a habit of scientific inquiry. This direct, hands-on experience with wind also builds a foundation for understanding forces and how they operate—a physics lesson that can grease the wheels for our engineers of the future. If older kids (~age 7+) are interested, you can start to learn more about how to estimate the wind's speed by monitoring a flag’s movement.