Hey kids! It’s time to make a sundial!

This November, Life is a Garden is helping the whole family get into the spring of things by celebrating our South African sunshine. Here’s an educational, hands-on project all about time, the Earth’s rotation, and our life-supporting sun. Get ready scientists and explorers, time is upon us!

A bit about the sundial

Did you know? The sundial is the oldest known instrument for telling time! This ancient, mysterious doohickey tracks the position of the sun using a gnomon, which is the centrepiece of the sundial that indicates time by the position of its shadow. Up until the early 19th century, sundials were the main instrument people used to tell time. When correctly positioned, sundials can even tell time down to the minute!


You will need:

  1. A flat piece of wood: This is going to serve as the body of the clock. You can upcycle an old slab of wood from the garage or the scrapyard, use a tree stump, or even repurpose a tile slab. Your local GCA Garden Centre has as lovely variety of wooden décor slabs to choose from.
  2. Pebbles or stones: These are going to be the hour placeholders. They can be collected during a walk, scavenged from the garden, or purchased from your favourite GCA Garden Centre. We recommend using pebbles with a flatter surface and ones lighter in colour.

Sunny Suggestion: Instead of using pebbles as hour placeholders, you could also use little succulent or cactus pots! Your garden centre has THE cutest variety of mini cactus pots and this DIY is the perfect opportunity to home a couple. If you’re going for the potted look, you could use the underside of a pot as your clock base too!

3. Paint: To paint numbers of the clock onto each stone and decorate as desired.


Build a Bat Box for Daddy

Life is a Garden Build a Bat Box for Daddy
Life is a Garden Build a Bat Box for Daddy

This Father’s Day, we’re taking dads back to their childhood with a superhero bat box, DIY style! Give dad a heartfelt, handmade gift with this fun activity for the whole family. It’s time to get out those tools, that leftover paint, a couple of nails, and a little bravery if needed.

The fact of the bat is
  • Most bats spend the summers in trees, under bridges, or in old buildings.
  • They are a protected species in South Africa and it is illegal to harm them.
  • They are not vampires (thank goodness). There are 3 species of bats which feed on the blood of large mammals, but they do not bite into human necks and suck our blood.
Why should you build a bat box?
  • One bat box can host up to 50 brown bats, who in turn will eat thousands of bugs each night, hooray!
  • Bats love to eat mosquitos, yippee! One little brown bat could eat over 1000 mosquito-sized insects in one night. Amazing!
  • Bats play a role in plant pollination too. Fruit trees, night flowering plants, and a variety of other flora can all benefit from having more of these friendly pollinators around.
Life is a Garden Build a Bat Box for Daddy
Tools needed:

This project will require some basic carpentry skills. It’s a good idea to get dad involved in helping you build his gift.

  • Table saw or handsaw
  • Caulking gun
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Paintbrushes
  • Tape measure
  • Staple gun (optional)
  • Two clamps for clamping wood while you saw or drill
  • Safety glasses for when you use power tools
Materials needed:
  • Piece of plywood: 60 cm x 120 cm x 1.5 cm
  • Piece of cedar or pine board: 2.5 cm x 5 cm x 250 cm
  • Piece of cedar or pine board: 2.5 cm x 10 cm x 60 cm
  • Tube of paintable, nontoxic, latex caulk
  • Exterior-grade, non-toxic, water-based paint or stain
  • Wire or rubber mesh
  • A super-cool Batman stencil
  • Spray paint


Steps to building the bat house
  1. Measure and cut the 60 cm x 120 cm x 1.5 cm piece of plywood into three pieces:
    1. 60 cm x 65 cm (for the backplate)
    2. 60 cm x 40 cm (for the top half of the front plate)
    3. The remaining 60 cm x 15 cm piece will be used as the bottom half of the front plate
  2. Cut grooves into the entire backplate (for the bats to hold on to), or attach wire or rubber mesh using a staple gun.