Hmmm, I know that I can’t tell the time by the sun except maybe a vague, it’s almost dinner time at sunset.
What about you? Can you tell the time by the position of the sun?
We are so used to checking our devices, that for some of us, our ability to observe signs around us has been almost lost.
I was challenged by Charlotte Mason’s idea, that the ability to tell time by the sun, would be a skill that children gained by experience.
As part of our math investigations, we spent a week taking note of the sun at different times of the day.
My brain struggled to process what I was seeing. I couldn’t understand why even though I could see the sun rise and set from right to left, my brain wanted to see the sun rise and set the opposite way! Is that because we are so programmed to read from left to right? Or is it because that is how a lot of picture books display the sun rising and setting? Are we so used to seeing the sky depicted from a northern hemisphere perspective?
I don’t think that a week of taking close note of the sun in the sky is enough to know how to tell time, but it has opened my eyes to a wonderful new observation. I know that when we go out for a walk, I will instinctively take note of the sun’s position. I hope over time, that I will become confident in estimating the time by the sun, and in turn, this will be a skill my children will pick up by experience.
Here are some ideas to exploring time that our family have enjoyed:
• Set a timer and every two hours check where the sun is in the sky. You might like to take a panoramic photo each time and compare them.
• Look at the shadows on the ground at different times during the day.
• Measure shadows.
• Place an object on graph paper and trace the shadow at intervals.
• Set up a sun dial.
• Read the book ‘About Time – A first look at time and clocks’ by Bruce Koscielniak.
• Take note of the sunset each day. Make a time graph.