Spring's official arrival this week signals longer days, outdoor activities and warmer weather. But here in Minnesota, we know that even if the calendar says spring, it's probably not! Winter's snow will cover the landscape and kids will stand at the bus stop in freezing temperatures a while longer.

Although we might not walk on solid ground yet, like all parents, we're anxious to get kids outside to catch March winds and fly kites. That's exactly what the Elsbernd and Erlandson families did with their five kids under 5 years old on a recent 15-degree Sunday afternoon.

No matter that they had to run with their kites on a big, frozen city lake. Dressed in snowsuits, mittens and hats, the thrill of flying kites and the joy of making family memories is always the same.

Drink in spring's fresh air whether on ice or solid ground, and set aside a weekend afternoon to fly kites together. Construct a colorful purchased kite and then make easy-to-use minikites for preschoolers using simple paper lunch bags.

Here's how to make a nifty paper-bag minikite:

Decorate a clean paper lunch bag. Use watercolors, poster paint or markers. Add your favorite stickers or design your own. To make stickers, draw shapes on colorful adhesive shelf paper. Cut out the shapes, peel off the backing and arrange stickers on the bag.

Cut four 16-inch streamers or ribbons. Glue or tape them to the bottom corners of the bag.

For a handle, cut a 20-inch to 30-inch length of string. Place the two ends of the string inside the bag, about 1-inch down from the edge on each of the side creases and attach firmly with masking tape.

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When the kite is made, go outside and run with the kite against the wind. As the air fills the bag, the kite stays aloft behind your child.

Tip: If your child celebrates a March birthday, making minikites is a fun activity for young party guests. The children will enjoy creating the kites as they arrive at the party — a good mixer for those kids meeting for the first time. After presents and treats, let the wigglers out to fly the minikites outdoors.

Donna Erickson's new award-winning television series "Donna's Day" is airing on public television nationwide. Visit www.donnasday.com to find out when it airs on your local PBS station and to sign up for Donna's e-newsletter. Her latest book is "Donna Erickson's Fabulous Funstuff for Families." © Donna Erickson

Dist. by King Features Syndicate

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