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Sundial in a Pot

Using a sundial is a very good way for teaching children about the movement of the sun and planets, about the seasons, and the reason that time passes. But, sundials are no longer the most common method of telling time. Where do you find one? Make your own in this simple and fun activity.


Small ball of clay
Small flower pot
Chopstick or piece of a dowel rod


1. Press the clay into the bottom of the flowerpot. Push one end of the chopstick into the clay. About three inches of the chopstick or dowel rod should stick up above the top of the flower pot.

2. In the morning when the sun is rising, put the prepared flower pot and stick outside in a sunny location. Make a mark on the rim of the flower pot where the stick’s shadow crosses the flower pot. Write what time it is next to the mark.

3. For the rest of the day, make the spot where the show hits the edge of the pot at each hour until the sun sets. Be sure to write the time next to each mark.

4. Now you have a sundial. Leave the flower pot in the same spot and you will be able to tell the approximate time of day by using the sun.

What happens? As the hours pass throughout the day, the shadow moves around the edge of the flower pot.

Why? The Earth rotates around the sun. When it does this it looks like the sun is going around the Earth. If you follow the shadow around the rim of the flower pot, you will see that the shadow is pretty much as the same location at approximately the same time each day.


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