Making A Sundial

This great project shows how science is fun for kids! You might need the help of an adult to plot the latitude, but if you can do it yourself, great!


  • a compass

Cardboard Sundial

  • 1 round piece of thick cardboard, about 1 foot in diameter

  • 1 piece of thick cardboard, cut in the shape of a right triangle

  • 1 cutter

  • 1 pen

Garden Sundial

  • 1 stick, about 2 feet long

  • 12 medium sized flat stones


  1. For the cardboard sundial, cut a slot into the middle of the round piece of cardboard, enough to be able to insert the triangular piece. The pointed part of the triangle should be two inches from the circle's edge, while the flat side should be about four inches from the other end.

  2. When the circular piece of cardboard lies flat, the triangle should be lying on its side like a shark's fin.

  3. For the garden sundial, create a circle on the ground about four feet in diameter. At the center of the circle, create a hole about six inches deep for your stick.

  4. Using a compass, look for north.

  5. For the cardboard sun dial, point the top pointed part of your fin towards the north. Check your watch for the time and look at what shadow is cast on your dial.

  6. For the garden sun dial, slant the stick so that it points northward. Lay the 12 rocks around the edges of the circle, making sure each rock is of equal distance from each other.

  7. Every hour, check the shadow on your dial, you can make a mark along the edge of the circle or on the rocks to mark the hour (3, 4, 5 o'clock and so forth.)

  8. Ask a grown up (or if you can do it yourself) to find the latitude of where you live. You need to know whether you are in the southern or north hemisphere.

  9. You will know your sun dial is correct if at noon time its shadow points north (if you're in the northern hemisphere), and south (if you're in the southern hemisphere), and either way if you live near the equator.

Concept Explanation

As the sun moves, shadows move in a clockwise motion. This is how you are able to tell the time. Every hour, the shadow on the dial will move because the sun's position in the sky will have moved. This shows how science is fun for kids because you are able to create a real working clock all by yourself. It may take several days to make your sun dial accurate, but it will be!

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