Make a Sun Clock: Tell Time with the Sun

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
Before there were clocks, people used shadows to tell time. In this outdoor activity, learners will discover how to tell time using only a compass, a pencil, a handy printout, and a sunny day. Along the way, learners discover the difference between solar and standardized time, and between geographic and magnetic north.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
    • Earth Structure
    • Solar System
      • The Sun
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Technology and History

Informal Categories

  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Exploratorium; Murphy, Pat ; Klages, Ellen ; Shore, Linda ; Gorski, Jason