All About Sundials and How to Teach Your Kids About Them

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Sundials have been used for thousands of years. People have been using them to tell time almost as long as man has existed. Sundials are a cool and fun way to tell time. Your kids can enjoy being outside and learning about how to tell time from a sundial. Sundials can be hard to explain to children, but if you use simpler words you can effectively explain how they work to your kids. This article is all about sundials and how you can teach your kids about them.

What is a Sundial?

Explain the Earth’s rotation to your kids. Explain how the sun stays in one spot and the Earth rotates around it. This is why we have day and night. Show your kids how shadows get longer as the day goes on. This is similar to how a sundial works. A sundial sits on a stand and looks like the face of a clock. In the middle of the circle there is a stick, called a gnomon, that casts a shadow somewhere on the face of a clock. By looking at the shadow, you can tell what time it is.

Positioning the Sundial

The sundial needs to be in the correct position for it to accurately tell time. Since the Earth is on an axis, that means it is slightly angled. The sundial needs to be at an angle to compensate for the axis in the Earth. The sundial should be at an axis and facing North to most accurately tell time. You can teach your kids about the axis of the Earth with a shadow exercise. Each child can put a stick straight up and down, and an angled stick facing North, in the ground and mark where the shadows are every hour. Have the children compare and contrast the shadows of the stick that is straight up and down, and the angled stick facing North.

all about sundials

Image Source: Pixabay

Considering Time Zones

Time zones will have an influence on the time that the sundial reads. Explain that as you move across different lines of longitude across the Earth, the time will change. Have the children understand the concept of time zones. It is a different time somewhere else in the world. You can explain this by using a globe and showing how one side of the Earth is light, while the other side is dark. This means that sometimes it is day in one place, and night in another. Depending on your time zone, you’ll need to adjust the sundial to give you an accurate reading.

Summing Up

Sundials are a cool way for your kids to learn about the Earth’s rotation and how the world works. Teach your kids about the way the Earth moves and why there are shadows. The sundial will also help your kids learn how to tell time better. There is so much that your children can learn from using a sundial. This will also give your children a good chance to learn about stars and constellations. Try using a sundial to give your children a valuable lesson about the planet they live on. You can even try making your own sundial!

Image Source: Pixabay

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