This is a design for analemmatic sundials, large or small, with elliptical dials. The one I made with my son is twelve feet across, drawn in sidewalk chalk on a level part of our driveway, and you check the time by standing in the spot corresponding to the date and seeing where the middle of your ow shadow falls. You can make a permanent one by first drawing in chalk and then painting over it (but we are renting the house).
Drawing these is fun, and makes a good science education project for small or large kids (one's own, or a class at school). It should take a little over an hour to do the basic measurements and drawing, more if one wants it to be more decorative. Depending on the size and the features of your location, you may need up to two people's help with drawing the ellipse, though I will also say a little about how you can make it without drawing an ellipse.
Analemmatic sundials have a vertical gnomon (the pointer that makes a shadow) that is placed in a different location depending on the date, because the sun's position in the sky differs from month to month. They are often made with the user acting as the gnomon, and the user's shadow showing the time. The design is elliptical in shape and needs to have its dimensions and layout carefully customized for your latitude, longitude and timezone. The design does not work well for latitudes within ten degrees of the equator.
Most of my time on the project was spent writing a sundial generator script to compute the dimensions and layout for the sundial for a given latitude, longitude and timezone. But you don't have to do that. You can now just go to my Analemmatic Sundial Generator
website, input your location data, and the generator will automatically produce a PDF file you can print out that has all of the dimensions you need to measure out and draw the sundial. And if you want to make a small sundial (e.g., on a piece of wood or metal, with holes drilled for the movable gnomon), you can just trace the drawing from the PDF file. The script is open source, so you can download it and modify it for your own purposes.
The theory of analemmatic sundials is nicely explained here
in mathematical detail (I got most of the formulas for my generator from there). You can also see the Wikipedia article
for photos that might inspire you.
In the following instructions, I will assume that like me you will make the design in chalk on a large, level paved area. Please make sure you have the legal right to draw in chalk where you are doing this. This would be a great project on a college campus if there is an area where chalk drawing is allowed (or you can get permission from the administration), or else you can do it on your own driveway or a walkway if it's level. If you do it at home, you can make it permanent by painting over it.
Many variations are possible. Chalk on concrete or asphalt is not the only way. You can draw it with a stick in soil or sand or snow, for a very impermanent one. Or you could also lay it out on grass (see the Step 4 variations), and then put flagstones--or sticks, for a temporary version while camping--where the hours are, or you could just make a small one out of wood or metal.Tools needed:
measuring tape and/or yardstick (both is better)
unstretchy string (my driveway sundial needed about 22 feet of string)
something with a right angle (e.g., a piece of paper, a box, a carpenter's square, etc.)
chalk (I recommend ordinary board chalk for the initial drawing, and then going over with either paint or sidewalk chalk for final lines)
enough flat and level space for the sundial (12 feet across is good for a child-sized one; proportionately more for adults; less if you want to hold a stick in place as a gnomon)
two pencils / screwdrivers / pieces of dowel / etc.
computer with Internet access and PDF viewer
printer and paper (you could also take a laptop outside without printing, but you'll have a hard time keeping it free from chalk dust)
optional: magnetic compass
As a warmup, you might consider doing this even simpler non-analemmatic paper sundial