Explaining Daylight Saving Time - Tool for Kids

(Updated 5/27/2022)

Autumn is officially a week away. I mean, I have already been celebrating it, to be honest. But the day that scientifically makes it autumn is a week away. What makes it officially autumn? Well, the autumnal equinox, of course!

Mark your calendars, (well, they probably already are) and add a seasonally relevant activity to the lesson books. Note Fall's Official First Day for upcoming years:
  • 2022 September 22
  • 2023 September 23
  • 2024 September 22
  • 2025 September 22
  • 2026 September 22

To help you in your autumn commencing celebration activities, we've gathered several options for you. We'll start with the one I'm adding to the ranks. It's a paper plate manipulative that will help your learner explain the autumnal equinox.

Two paper plates, printable clipart, scissors, glue, and crayons is all you'll need to explain the lengthening day and night cycle to your learners.

Follow these six steps. Then stew on some of my ideas for differentiation.

1.  Gather (or color/paint) a light blue and dark blue paper plate.

The first step to making your manipulative to explain changing cycles of night and day lengths.

2. Decorate the paper plates to represent day and night. (These particular decorations are included in the download below).

Step two in making a manipulative that explains the changing day and night cycle.

3. Measure to find the center of each plate.  

Step three in making a manipulative that explains the changing day and night cycle.

4. Then, cut a straight line from edge to center.

Step four in making a manipulative that explains the changing day and night cycle.

5. Intersect the plates so that the bottom one (night) can rotate on to the top one (day).

Step five in making a manipulative that explains the changing day and night cycle.

6. Label 180° as Autumnal & Vernal Equinox (A&V, F for Fall or E for Equinox) 216° as Summer Solstice (S) and 144° as Winter Solstice (W)

Step six in making a manipulative that explains the changing day and night cycle.

Now, learners use this manipulative to explain that:

  • Equinox means equal parts day and night
  • Summer has longer days than nights (which is why we set clocks forward in the spring)
  • Winter has longer nights than days (which is why we set clocks back in the fall)
To differentiate:
  • Mark the dots for learners needing extra assistance.
  • Use protractors to incorporate mathematical precision and tool use.
  • Calculate the length of day during each equinox and solstice based on degree measurement and proportional reasoning.


Read on for even more autumnal equinox learning activities we've collected for you.

All Ages

  • LieBackLookUp invites you to use yourself and a flashlight as manipulatives to learn about the seasons.
  • HomeSchoolSuperFreak thoroughly explains a fall equinox and provides links many more activities, videos and book ideas.


  • With GryphonHouse you'll sing a song, make some art and perform an action poem to celebrate fall.


  • MontessoriTraining provides your learners with some hands-on cultural applications of autumnal equinoxes. 
  • HelpTeaching celebrates fall in many subject areas.

4 +

  • DIYHomeschooler defines equinox and provides links to several additional equinox resources and activities.
  • YummyMath looks at the equinox through math glasses.  Includes data interpretation of line graphs and a formula for calculating the number of daylight hours in any given day.
  • With SolarCenter you'll create a solstice and equinox "suntrack" model using paper plates.

With all these seasonally relevant activities to choose from, I sure hope one found it's way into your lesson books.  Here's to hoping your learners learn to love fall!

At Your Service,
Offering samplings of life by a husband and wife

Interested in even more educational resources?  Then stop by our Learning Lab.  It's here where we store all the educational resources we've cooked up to date.  


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