Teaching Tips Telling the Time

Teaching students to tell time can be a difficult process. In today’s world, most of the clocks are digital, which are much easier for students to read. But, it is very important that students learn to tell time using a analog clock. Here are some helpful hints and tips for you to use in your classroom.

Students need to be able to count by 5’s up to 60 to correctly tell time. Practice this skill the months leading up to your telling time unit. Counting by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s can be part of your daily opening or calendar activities. Once you begin your unit, one idea for helping students remember that the space between each number on the clock is 5 minutes is to create a flower clock. The middle portion of the flower is the face of the clock. Thenm have students glue 12 petals around the clock, each petal correlating to each number on the clock. On the petals, write “5′, “10”, “15”, etc., all the way around until you get to 60. Practicing telling time with a flower clock will help students master this skill.

Another difficulty students have is remembering which is the minute hand and  hour hand apart. One way to help them remember is to tell a story about a mouse (the minute hand) who continually chases a piece of cheese (the hour hand). In the story, the mouse is moving as fast as he can to catch up  to the cheese, but doesn’t reach it until 12:00, when both hands are on top of each other. Reminding the students that the mouse is the long hand (since it’s bigger than the cheese), is another tip to help them differentiate between the two hands.

Since students master telling time digitally first, play games that require them to match a digital time to a analog time. You could create a memory game, with cards of both types of clocks with times on them. Students would have to match the times to make a match. Or if your classroom has a set of student clocks, divide half of your class and give them the clocks and the other half digital time cards. They then have to find their partner that shows the same time as them. Or a simple activity if you have a few minutes to fill in with, is to pass out the student clocks and yell out a time. Students would then need to make this time with their individual clocks.

Although telling time can be a difficult skill to learn, especially on a analog clock, the skill is required for all students to master during early elementary school. With guidance and opportunities to practice, students will pick up the skill. Keep these tips in mind as you plan your math lessons on this topic.