How to make a sundial

Before we had clocks and watches people used sundials to mark the passing of time.

A sundial measures time by the position of the sun and usually has markings for each hour of sunlight. Sundials have something in the centre which casts a shadow over the markings showing what the time is. There are lots of ways to make a simple sundial, you can draw around your shadow from the same central point at different times throughout the day, use stones or even just a simple straw or stick like we did.

On a real sundial the central part ( gnomon ) usually sticks up at an angle from the dial plate ( base of the sundial ). It’s the shadow of the gnomon that moves around.

What you need

A sunny spot

Pen or chalk

Straw or Stick


How to make a simple sundial

You’ll need a sunny spot that doesn’t get shady.

How to make a simple sundial

If you’re using chalk you can draw directly on the ground, otherwise pen and paper work well too.

We used plasticine to make the straw stay upright.

We started our recording at 12 noon and watched as the shadow of the straw changed over the afternoon, marking every hour. We were a bit late with one of our readings as you can see.

Simple sundial

Where was the first sundial?

The earliest known sundial was thought to have been made by Ancient Eqyptians around 1500bc.

More sundial ideas

We love this shell version from KCEdventures.

The post How to make a sundial appeared first on Science Experiments for Kids.