Wild Wonders Weather Watch: Spring Equinox Sundial


  • 1 Stick and small rocks, shells or acorns
  • Marker
  • A sunny day!

Before You Explore:

Do shadows stay in the same place all day? What about all year? How do shadows change from winter to summer?

Saturday March 20, 2021 is the Spring Equinox – on this day we are exactly half way between the shortest day of the year and the longest day of the year! Check out this fun video to learn about our planets journey around the sun: http://bit.ly/HappyEquinox  

People have made creations that use the sun to tell time for thousands of years, long before clocks and watches. You can harness the power of the sun to record time on a sundial! Watch this short video on how to make a sundial. It was made by CREA summer interns, Alex and Lily!

Connect with Nature:

  • Head outside and hunt for a straight stick for your sundial and rocks or acorns to mark times you’ll record throughout the day. If you want, decorate your sundial. Wrap it in fabric, paint it, hang beads and feathers from it! Leave a section at the base free of decoration where you’ll stick it in the ground.
  • Next, choose your sundial spot (someplace with plenty of sunlight, away from buildings and trees).
  • Determine which direction is north. You can use a compass (there may be one on your adult’s phone) for this.
  • Set up your stick so the end sticking into the air points north, casting a good shadow on the ground. You can use something to prop it up, or put it into a container of rocks if you can’t get your stick into the ground yet.
  • Start marking the time on the hour. For example, mark with a rock where the sundial casts its shadow at 10:00am with a rock (write 10 on the rock with your marker). Come back at 11am, has your shadow moved?
  • Predict where the shadow will be at the next hour. Were you correct?
  • Continue to check on your sundial adding rocks for each hour that passes. You’re making a sundial clock!

Dive Deeper!

Discover the history of traditions surrounding the Spring Equinox by reading Wendy Pfeffer’s “A New Beginning: Celebrating the Spring Equinox.”