How to Make a Sundial

Cassie (Teach Starter)

Written by Cassie (Teach Starter)

Learning about space is awesome. I mean, who doesn’t get excited by the infinite possibilities of the universe? Luckily for our students, we don’t need to charter a space shuttle to experience some real-world learning about how parts of our solar system work. The simple act of making a sundial provides us with the means to examine the Earth’s rotation on its axis. Through this activity, students can begin to understand this key concept of space science.

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How to Make a Sundial

This printable classroom activity teaches kids how to make a simple sundial, providing them with instructions and a worksheet for recording observations.

How to Make a Simple Sundial - printable instructions and worksheet

What You Need

  • Crayons
  • Paper plate
  • Sharp pencil
  • Ruler
  • Straw
  • Sticky tack or thumbtacks

How to Make a Sundial:

  1. Download and print the “How to Make a Sundial” teaching resource.
  2. Follow the instructions to assemble the sundial.
  3. At midday, position your sundial as directed and secure it to the ground. You may like to use sticky tack to hold the paper plate sundial down on the ground, rather than thumbtacks.
  4. One hour later, return to your sundial and mark where the shadow lays at the edge of the plate.
  5. Mark this spot with the number 1.
  6. Carefully remove your sundial from the ground and use the positions of 12 and 1 to predict the positions of the other numbers on the sundial.

Simple Sundial Ideas

While the old straw and paper plate sundial is a goodie, here are some other fun ideas for simple sundials you can make with your class.

Stone Sundial

how to make a simple sundial

Image source: Otherwise Educating

Chalk Sundial

a simple sundial

Fun Chalk Sundial by Delia Creates

Shells and Sticks Sundial

Sea shells and a stick = Awesome Science Craft!

Posted by KC Edventures on Saturday, May 14, 2016


There are lots of fun ways to explore the sun and moon. Creating a sundial is just one of them. Take a look at some of the resources from our Sun and Moon Resource Collection.

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Comments & feedback

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The shadows/numbers fall in an anticlockwise direction when you do this in the Southern Hemisphere (Australia). We investigated and found an answer for this happening but this was an unexpected result when completing this seemingly simple task. We would have researched this first but didn’t expect this result !

annettem614 · Jul 21st, 2020

Paul (Teach Starter)

Thanks for that feedback! It sounds like the activity turned into a great learning experience.

Paul (Teach Starter) · Jul 22nd, 2020


It certainly was but I might suggest you add this as a note to the resource as we teachers like to be prepared for ‘glitches’ like this so we know what’s coming. Obviously this was a resource prepared in the northern hemisphere, I had always though Teachstarter was an Australian product .

annettem614 · Jul 27th, 2020

Donna Oakley

Thanks, Annette I came here to suggest the same thing! Still a rich learning task.

Donna Oakley · May 19th, 2021

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