Making a sundial garden is an easy and educational project to do with your kids. Creating the garden introduce kids to the concept of telling time by the sun. With a sundial garden children can use their body to tell time based on the position of the sun and their garden. By marking the hours, much like a clock marks the hours, with plants or markers in a specifically laid out garden, children can use their shadow anytime during the day to be able to tell time without looking at a watch. It really is a fun and interactive way for children to garden and learn about time, the sun and the importance of measurements.
Tips for Creating a Kid's Sundial Garden
Use these tips to create a sundial garden, with children. You don’t need a lot of space, but the bigger the better.
Find a Full Sun Area
Because you need the sun to help you create and use this garden, you need a full sun location that is not blocked by buildings or trees. Children need to be able to use their shadow to correctly tell the time, and if their shadow is blocked out by the shadows of trees or the house there is no way they can identify it.
Lay out Round Garden Bed
Like a clock the sundial garden is going to be round. Once you have your full sun location, clear out a round garden bed where you can add plantings and markers. Ten to twelve feet across is ideal, but you can divide this in half and still get the same results that children are able to use. Remember the bigger the garden, the more space you are going to need to fill in with flowers or garden covering.
Select Hour Markers
Plant or other markers are needed to mark the place of each hour on the face of your sundial. If you are going to fill the entire garden with flowers, make sure that the flowers used to mark the hours are different than the rest of the flowers used in the garden-- all the same color or bigger than the rest of the flowers used in the garden. If you decide to make more durable hour markers, such as diagonally cut logs (as shown above) or pieces of slate, inexpensive house numbers are a great choice for denoting the hours on them. A few simple sticks will do the job though.
Determine Noon and Set Garden
To set the garden, first determine the center of your garden. At noon, have your child stand in the center of the garden and place a marker on the ground at the exact point where the top of their shadow hits, or if your garden bed is a small one, place the marker where the edge of the garden meets their shadow. From this one point children can determine where the rest of the hour markers need to be placed by dividing the garden into 12 hours. Discuss how many hours are in a day and how many hours are on a clock. Mark out 6 first, because it is directly across from 12, then have them divide into quarters and mark off 3 and 9. Fill in from there.
Once your sundial has been marked out, its time to plant. If you are using plants to serve as the markers, plant those first. Fill in garden sections around the markers. If you are using stone markers to indicate the hours, set those in place first and then plant around them. Make sure to leave a way for children to reach the center of the sundial and set a large paver in the center for them to stand on.
Practice Using the Sundial
Practice using the sundial with children, by testing it out against a clock in the home. Randomly choose an hour to send them outside to verify their sun measurement using their own shadow. This also opens the discussion about how the length of the shadow changes as the season wears on, and why it does so. Actively get kids used to using the clock to determine time, “You can play outside till your shadow hits 3.” With constant use of the sundial, children will eventually gain the skill of being able to tell time according to the sun, without the need of their sundial.
Wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas says
I used to have a sundial watch. I was convinced I was the coolest thing ever when I wore it. Ha!
Great Idea So Pretty Too!!
Nicole Brady says
What a fun idea. I would have loved something like this in our yard when I was a kid. We lived in the country on 10 acres and could have put it anywhere. I could have had my own little happy-place.
Danielle @ We Have It All says
Oh what a good idea, I never thought to make a sundial garden with the kids.
Jenni E. says
Super fun idea!! I've always loved sundials. Looks like a fun weekend project!
This looks so cool! My mom would love to do this with her grandkids. We live in an apartment and can't plant flowers. 🙁
Mama to 5 BLessings says
that is beautiful! What a great way to get kids involved with nature!
How fun is this project?!?! Love it!
Lexie Lane says
I wish there were more pictures here! This is so great for kids to learn. I think the part where you actually select the hour markers is so interesting. I think it's especially going to be helpful when helping them to understand time too.
Amanda Love says
What a great idea for a project. Nothing grows here where I live so I won't be able to do it but I so wish I could. The kids would have loved it.
This is such a fabulous idea! I am definitely going to bookmark this so we can create one in our own backyard this summer. Thank you for sharing 🙂
Maggie @ The Love Nerds says
I wish I had a yard! This is such a cute idea. I am definitely pinning for the future!
Debbie L. says
I have a garden every year and the kids help all the time. They love to pick the veggies when they are ready.
Penelope Guzman (NY Blogger) says
What a great idea! I'd love to do this with our boys, they would probably enjoy it. Does the time of year effect where the rest of the numbers fall or are they pretty much all evenly spaced when divided by 12?
Robin Gagnon says
Daylight savings obviously will have an effect. Length of shadow will vary, but where it points should stay the same. We cast longer shadows in winter, shorter in summer. Of course, these are added educational opportunities.
Crystal @ Simply Being Mommy.com says
What a great idea. I'm not sure we have enough space now though. Our neighborhood is much smaller than our country lot LOL!
Lynda H says
This is such an amazing idea! I've been tossing the link to all my friends with kids (and sunshine). I've featured it on our 1st Day of Spring Round Up: http://rchreviews.blogspot.com/2014/03/14-ways-to-celebrate-spring-equinox-2014.html