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Homemade Hourglass

This a wonderfully fun activity to use with an ancient history unit, a time theme, or as a math exercise. While it can be a little challenging, you wind up with a working time keeper.

Materials Needed:

two 20-ounce plastic water or soda bottles and their plastic caps
strong glue
electrical tape
drill and bit (for the plastic caps)
2 cups clean sand
Push pin
Glue and/or stickers to decorate bottles


1. Use strong glue to attach the top of one cap to the top of the other.

2. Tape them together with electrical tape for reinforcement.

3. Drill a hole through the center of both caps using an drill bit.

4. Screw the drilled and glued cap piece onto one of the plastic bottles.

5. Pour about 1˝ cups of clean sand or colored craft sand through a funnel into the other bottle.

6. Tightly screw the empty bottle to the sand-filled bottle.

7. Poke a tiny hole with a pushpin into the side of each plastic bottle.

8. Invert, and watch the sand flow into the empty bottle.

9. Decorate the bottles with colorful paints and/or stickers if you want.

To figure out the exact time amount for your “hour”glass, use your watch to measure how long it takes for the 1˝ cups of sand to flow from one bottle into the other. If you want a three-minute timer and the sand runs out before three minutes, add more sand. Test until you get the number of minutes you want.


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