Post written by Sierra Tamkun, Learning Experiences Manager.

Daily Discovery: Paper Plate Sundial

Here comes the Sun… to tell us the time! Our closest star keeps Earth warm so life can grow and holds our whole solar system together! And before the invention of the mechanical clock, people used the Sun’s movement across the sky to tell time using sundials. Make your own sundial and test the oldest time-measuring tool for yourself!

• Paper plate
• Pencil
• Ruler
• Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
• Assorted craft supplies – stickers, glitter, pom poms, buttons, etc.

1. Flip your paper plate so the bottom is facing up. Write a “12” at the top of your plate.
2. Write a “6” along the bottom of your plate, directly below the “12.” Add a “3” along the right side, and a “9” on the left, directly across from each other.
3. Use the sharpened end of your pencil to poke a hole through the middle of the plate. Push the pencil all the way through.
4. Decorate the face of your sundial! Draw with markers or crayons, add color and shapes, glue on glitter, buttons, or attach stickers!
5. Take your paper plate and pencil outside on a sunny day! Place the plate on the ground with the “12” pointed North.
6. Place your pencil in the center hole so it is standing up with a slight tilt towards true North.
7. Use a clock to make sure the pencil shadow points to the correct time – you may need to rotate the plate slightly.
8. Now watch – as the sun moves across the sky, so does the pencil’s shadow on the sundial, showing the time throughout the day!

Want to download these directions? Click here for a handy PDF!

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

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Educational opportunities like this are supported in part by Fort Fund.