Paper Plate Time Zones, Circles and More

This post really should be titled 1001 Things You Can Do with 2 Paper Plates and a Brass Fastener. The possibilities really are endless.

This project started for us when I came across a really cool idea for a paper plate chameleon

I loved the idea, but was looking to move it away from teacher directed to child inspired. This was our journey.

We started out with tempera paint (more washable than acrylic, still easy to work with) and painting on one plate.


The kids then experimented with taking a fresh plate and pressing it down on the painted one. They loved the various textures created in that process.

We let the plates dry. A couple hours later, I marked the centers of the plates and let the kids choose cookie cutters and trace shapes onto what would become the top plate.

We cut those out, fastened them together, and enjoyed spinning them around. 

The fastener on my 6yo’s plate must not have been exactly centered, so we talked about why that might be, and then he created another plate set, intentionally off center.


(Yes, that’s the outline of a fidget spinner.)

We had a good conversation about how the distance from the fastener to the edge doesn’t change, regardless of its position and went back & forth with this for a while (geometry!).

My kids also love the sound the plates make when moving across one another, by the way!

It then occurred to me: how cool would it be to use these plates to talk about time zones? My 3yos have been asking where the sun goes, and my 6yo is working on his map skills, so the next day I took a plate and made an outline for my son to fill in – day, dusk, night, dawn.


When he finished that, I didn’t tell him what was next. Instead, I gave him another plate and asked him to label the flaps with 6 hour increments, based on the map in his room. 

He chose NY, Alaska, Russia, and France. We spun the plate and then discussed what it would be in each place, which led to a discussion of the international date line, traveling east vs. west, and how you can be in two time zones, states, or countries at the same time.

He then was so excited he went  to teach his sisters. Win! 


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