Build your own Sundial

Used to tell the time of day by the apparent position of the sun in the sky, basic sundials can be made using a template, a pencil, and tape, and they are a fun activity for kids (and adults) either before or after the eclipse.  You can easily make your own or there are many downloadable templates and instructions online.  Don't forget to share your sundial creations with us @GoEclipse and #GoEclipse!

A great, easy sundial activity can be found at the National Wildlife Federation website.  To make this sundial, you will need:

  • A paper plate
  • A straw
  • Scissors
  • Two magic markers in different colors (one dark, one lighter, such as orange)
  • A ruler
  • Push pins

Directions: (courtesy of National Wildlife Federation)

Turn the paper plate over so the bottom is facing upwards, and punch a hole through the middle of the plate with your scissors. Using your dark magic marker, write the number 12 at the top of the inner circle of the plate, and then continue writing the numbers 2 – 12 around the plate in the same order as the numbers on a clock face. Decorate the outer edges of the plate with sun faces, eclipse phases…whatever you want! Next, take the ruler and draw a straight line from the hole to the number 12.  Then, just before noon on a sunny day, take the plate, the straw, and the push pins outside.

Place the paper plate numbers-side up on the grass, and insert the straw through the hole in the middle of the plate.  Move the plate around until the shadow of the straw falls in a straight line over the number 12. Then, fasten the plate the ground using the push pins.

Every hour, go back outside to see how the shadow of the straw has moved or changed since you first put the plate on the grass. What do you see?