My oldest daughter has been trying to learn to tell time. We practice every now and then, but she never seems to get that excited about it. However the other day when I told her that we were going to make a sundial this weekend and explained that a sundial is like a clock where the sun tells us what time it is. She got super excited and wanted to know how the sun knows what time it is (I love how kids put things together in their heads!).
So yesterday I pulled out a paper plate and asked her to write the same numbers on the plate as a clock has. She started with the 12 and then the 6, then she added the 3 and 9. Then she added all the other numbers. I will admit that they are not perfectly placed but for what we were using this for it worked. If you want them perfectly placed I will explain how to do that in a minute.
Once we had all the numbers on the plate I had her put the pencil through the plate in the center and we then went outside. It was 1:15 when we went outside so we placed the dial with the 12 facing north and saw the shadow of the pencil just after the number 1. My daughter thought that was pretty cool. I told her that we should wait a little and come back to see if it can tell us the time in an hour or so. And it did. We checked several times and the sun never got it wrong!
The best way to get your numbers perfectly placed on your paper plate is to let the sun tell you where they go. You will need to write the number 12 then place the plate with pencil in the sun at noon. The shadow should be right on the 12 then. Now just come out every hour and write the number where the shadow is pointing.
Since I was just trying to get my daughter more excited about telling time it really did not matter that our numbers were slightly off. Most of the time it seemed we were right on with them and she thought it was SUPER COOL that the sun could tell time. I think for older kids the accuracy would be more important but my daughter is in first grade so this worked out great.
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Sharpie (or any marker)