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How To Teach Telling Time In 2022 With New Activities

When we talk about teaching time, we want students to tell the time using analog and digital clocks, figure out elapsed time and write time in different ways.
When we talk about teaching time, we want students to tell the time using analog and digital clocks, figure out elapsed time and write time in different ways.

How many times a day do you glance at the clock, or your watch, or your phone to check the time? You’re able to tell what time it is, how much longer you have left until lunch, and how much time has elapsed since you started students on independent reading.

Your students need to know all these things too. When we talk about telling time, we’re really talking about being able to: 

  • Tell the time using analog and digital clocks
  • Use analog and digital time interchangeably
  • Write time in different ways
  • Figure out elapsed time
  • Order time.

When you are done teaching time, students should be able to read a clock, show time on a clock, compare times, put times in order, express time in various ways, and figure out how much time has passed and how much is left. 

Check out the FREE Time Task Cards Sample

FREE Time Task Cards

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3 activities for telling time

Let’s look at three ideas for teaching telling time in the elementary classroom:

Telling time task cards

Let’s start with this one, because it not only helps students practice telling time, it saves you time too! 

Help your students master telling time to the nearest minute and elapsed time with ready-to-use time task cards. Just print and you’re set for your math station, your telling time math lessons, or small group practice. There’s a digital option too, so you can bring the same activities to students by sharing the Google Slides activity. 

When we talk about teaching time, we want students to tell the time using analog and digital clocks, figure out elapsed time and write time in different ways.

Students need to know that there are 60 minutes in the hour, and you should know there are 60 task cards in the full set. The task cards include a mix of analog, digital and 24-hour time activities that help your students practice telling time and showing time on an analog clock, writing time in multiple ways, using analog and digital clocks interchangeably, figuring elapsed time, showing elapsed time and ordering time. Save time teaching time here: https://topnotchteaching.com/downloads/telling-time-task-cards/

When we talk about teaching time, we want students to tell the time using analog and digital clocks, figure out elapsed time and write time in different ways.

How long?

How long until recess? How long is the bus ride? How long do we have to do this? 

Students ask questions about time all the time. They need to understand how long things take — and what that means in daily life. If it takes 15 minutes to get to school and school starts at 8 AM, what time do you need to leave home (and what does that look like on the clock)? 

When we talk about teaching time, we want students to tell the time using analog and digital clocks, figure out elapsed time and write time in different ways.

A demonstration clock face is a good way to show how to find the answer to these questions. Show students the minute hand and the hour hand on the clock, and show how they move. Explain that there are sixty seconds in a minute and sixty minutes in an hour. Show students that the clock is broken into 60 minutes (twelve five minute segments). Before you teach telling time, students should be able to count to 60 easily by ones, and skip count to 60 by fives as well. 

Then try scenarios like these with the demonstration clock: 

  • Liam has 20 minutes to play before bed at 8 PM. What does that look like on the clock? 
  • It’s 12:15. Aria is going to a party at 2:00. How much longer until the party? 
  • Lorenzo and Nadia are meeting at the library at 4:30. It takes Lorenzo 20 minutes to get there. What time does he need to leave? If it takes Nadia 15 minutes to get there, what time does she need to leave?

Have students move the hands of the clock, skip counting as they go. Depending on the question, they will say a time, an elapsed time, or show the clock face as their response.

Time matching game

Have you ever had someone ask what time it was and look at you blankly when you said, “Quarter past 3”? Understanding time means understanding the different ways we represent time. That means knowing the 3:15 and quarter past three are the same thing. It also means being able to recognize 3:15 on both digital and analog clocks. One way to practice this is a matching game. 

When we talk about teaching time, we want students to tell the time using analog and digital clocks, figure out elapsed time and write time in different ways.

Make cards representing different times in different ways: analog clock, digital clock, different wording (three fifteen and quarter past three). Start by laying all the cards out face up. Have students take turns finding two times that match. Once students are more familiar with the times, you can have students lay out the cards face down and take turns turning over two cards. If the time on the two cards match, the student takes the pair. If not they turn them face down and the next student goes. Continue until all the cards are matched up.

We could all use a little more time. If it’s time to teach telling time in your classroom, these activities will help your students master a variety of time telling skills — and hopefully save you a little time as well! 

What’s your favorite teaching time activity?

When we talk about teaching time, we want students to tell the time using analog and digital clocks, figure out elapsed time and write time in different ways.

FREE Time Task Cards

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive regular teaching tips and updates & get instant access to the free time task cards PDF:

Powered by ConvertKit

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