How to Make a Three Minute Timer


Making your own three-minute timer is one way to learn about science and teach groups of children about the passage of time and how it was measured in history. You can create your own sand timer with just a few basic supplies that most people already have on hand. It also teaches kids about recycling products at the same time. You can make your own sand clock for any interval of time, whether it is three minutes or 20 minutes, that can be an educational experience enjoyed by everyone involved.

Things You'll Need

  • Two plastic soda or water bottles (approximately 16 to 32 oz. each)
  • Sugar, sand or salt
  • Aluminum foil
  • Tape
  • Fill one plastic soda bottle with sugar, salt or sand.

  • Place a small square of aluminum full around the opening on the sand-filled bottle. Shape the aluminum foil so that it fits tightly and tape it securely onto the top of the plastic bottle.

  • Poke a hole into the center of the aluminum foil, using a sharpened pencil. Make sure the edges of the foil are smooth and not jagged; this will prevent the sand from being trapped and allow it to flow smoothly from one bottle to the other.

  • Place the empty plastic soda bottle onto the top of the filled soda bottle and connect them with tape. This will be a temporary connection, so do not overdo it.

  • Invert the bottles so that the sand runs into the empty bottle and time it with a clock, preferably one with a second hand. If your clock shows that it takes five minutes for the sand to run into the second bottle, then you will need to subtract some sand. You may need to repeat this a few times until you have the exact amount of sand that it takes to create your three-minute timer.

  • Secure the two bottles together permanently with tape, once you have determined the correct amount of sand in it.

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  • Photo Credit hourglass image by Pavel Losevsky from
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