How to Create Your Own Sand Timer

A fun and rewarding project for you and your children to accomplish would be learning how to build your own sand timer from scratch, a fun and educational exercise which may stop you from using your timer on your smart phone in future! (or maybe not).

The core ingredients you will need to complete the task will be some fine, dry play sand, two identical plastic bottles (with lids), superglue and strong tape. Let's get making!

  1. Obtain two, clear identical plastic bottles. Consider which shape will have the better appearance in the final outcome, for example 'bowling bin' shaped bottle such as that of a Fanta, or other popular soft drinks would give you a more authentic appearance, that of a real hour glass. 
  2. Remove all labels and use soap and warm water to completely clean any of the contents, and make sure the bottles are clean and 100% dry afterwards, any liquid left behind could cause the sand to clump together at the later stages.
  3. Glue the both bottle lids together. You will want to glue the bottle lids together, back to back so that only the inside of both caps are visible. A strong glue like superglue will be required, prit-stick etc will not be strong enough! Draw a circle around the back of both lids, avoiding the centre (as this will be important for the next stage). 
  4. Now place the lids back to back to they are touching and mirror each other perfectly, and patiently wait for it to dry.
  5. Create a hole through the centre of the glued lids now that they are stuck together. For this mark the centre with a pen and then you could use a hammer and nail to pierce the hole through the centre of both of them, or for more accurate results you can also use an electric drill. Consider the size of the hole, the smaller the hole the slower the sand will take to fall and vice versa. Screw one of the caps onto one of your bottles just as normal, don't worry about the other lid at the moment.
  6. Gather your sand, it is important to make sure your sand is completely dry, so would always recommend spreading your sand out on a try and leaving it out to dry out in the sun. To make the final results more exciting for yourself (or your child) you could add glitter into the sand mix.
  7. Fill your empty bottle with sand, we recommend half way or three quarters. If you don't want to set an exact time you can now screw both bottles together and skip to step 9.
  8. To set a time for your new hourglass, screw both lids together, so the empty bottle is at the top. Start a stop watch and turn your hourglass upside down simultaneously. You can then stop the hourglass at your desired point, for example when your stop watch reaches one minute, stop your hourglass and detach the bottles. The fallen sand will now be 'one minutes worth of sand' for your custom hourglass. You can now remove the excess un-needed sand from the other bottle.
  9. Secure your timer, now that you have your chosen amount of sand, you are happy with the flow of sand and both bottles are attached tightly on their lids you will want to tape both lids tight together to add extra strength to the middle mechanism. The stronger the tape the better, as this will add support to the glued areas and prevent it from collapsing after plenty of use.
  10. Watch your timer. Now its time to watch your finished project, with the sand in the bottom bottle, flip it over and sit back and watch the sand fall and count in all its glory. If once wasn't enough, you can simply flip it over and take it all in again!
  11. Add finishing touches to your timer, if you or your child is proud of their creation they can add decorative touches to it, such as ribbon, or creating a cardboard frame or holder for it. Use your imagination, the possibilities are endless.

This may not be comparable to a smart phone or your child's latest toy, but this is definitely something different, and a great bonding activity, something all involved can learn from.

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