Telling Time is EASY PEASY

One significant goal for a lot of my little ones is learning how to tell time, and more importantly, learning how to find elapsed time {BIGGIE}. The concept of time in general just baffles them. Although it is in the common core, a lot of text books used in schools do not have anything on time. So, naturally, I searched and searched the internet for effective ways to truly help my students understand all things time, and I finally landed on the goods!

I came across this lovely little gem of an article and fell in love. It is from the National Council of Teaching in Mathematics.

This investigation provides students with an opportunity to truly understand the connection between seconds, minutes and hours. I was stunned at what growth my students made in relation to time. Plus, they LOVED all the hands-on activities we did!!

Here is a little recap photo session of some of the activities we completed during the investigation!

We brainstormed different things that only take a second.

We predicted how many times we could do a task in one minute, and then tested it out.
We also did a few different sorts to reinforce what they learned during the investigation. In this sort, they have to sort whether the activity should take seconds or minutes to complete. In another sort, they said whether an activity was done during A.M. or P.M. hours.
We practiced with the hour hand, determining what “a little after the hour” “a little to the hour” and “half past” looked like with the hour hand alone {i.e. when it is “half past” the hour, the hour hand is pointed directly between the two numbers}
We created a number line out of 12 groups of 5 linking cubes until we had 60 total cubes in our line, and then we practiced counting by 5’s, and then by 1’s until we reached a certain cube.
In order to make the connection with the clock, we made the number line into a circle and added our group #s, and cube amount #s
I had the students create their own, and practice moving the long hand (minute hand) around, while their partner counted the cubes or “minutes”
Next, we created a basic clock and practiced with the minute hand more.
When my students seemed to be confident with counting minutes, I added the hour hand to the clock above and we added the numbers to our clock.
To give my students more practice with telling time and to assess them, I had them complete task cards independently, or with me.
Telling Time from an Analog Clock
Telling Time from an Analog Clock
Matching the word form of time to the analog clocks

Showing digital time on an analog clock

All these activities and task cards can be found in my TICK-TOCK On the Clock Time Packet on TPT. This week, we will be working on elapsed time, a biggie for 3rd and 4th graders.

Hope everyone is enjoying this Monday!!

post signature


  1. 1st Grade Rocks on February 1, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Math Coach's Corner shared this post on FB which lead me to your blog!!! So excited about this!! I am your newest follower!!!!

    • Mrs. Dixon on February 4, 2013 at 9:35 pm

      Glad you're here! Hope this post helped you get some ideas on how to make time hands on for students – my kids loved it!

  2. Anonymous on February 1, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    As with Heather (above), I followed MCC's link. I LOVE your work! I am always trying to get teachers to break down the steps in concepts. You have done it perfectly. I am your newest follower.

    • Mrs. Dixon on February 4, 2013 at 9:35 pm

      thank you so much! stay tuned – we are working on hands-on multiplication right now and I will be posting about it soon!

  3. Robin on February 3, 2013 at 2:19 am

    Just found your blog via Pinterest, and am now following you on TPT. The article you mentioned is printing as I write this. Will be ordering your packet. Love the hands on activities that my students can actually be successful doing! (-:

    • Mrs. Dixon on February 4, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      SO glad you found me! I hope your students love the activities as much as mine did – and that it helps them with time! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Ashley Pennell on February 10, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    I just LOVE everything about this post. I will be teaching time to my 2nd graders in a few weeks and was looking for some ideas to kickstart time.. as I have noticed that they know VERY LITTLE about reading a clock. I love all of these activities and loved the NCTM article as well! Thanks for sharing this great pack — adding it to my cart now!


  5. T Bell on February 24, 2013 at 5:55 am

    Lifesaver!!! My homeschooler is having soooooo much trouble with all concepts related to time. I am going to reference the article and your blog post in the current compulsory learning proposal I am writing. We have to do one annually, documenting how and what we will be teaching our homeschooled children and submit it to our state education department. You have just saved me a LOT of time and grief. THANK YOU!!!!! Australia

  6. Heidi Butkus on March 6, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    I found you on Pinterest too! This is genius- so clear. Great job!
    Heidi Butkus

  7. Sitting Behind Homeplate on March 10, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    I'm teaching time in 2 weeks and I wasn't very happy with the ideas from our math team (they felt everyone had their own "special way" to teach time so we were only given worksheets for assessments) ๐Ÿ™
    but your blog is awesome, I'm going to share the ideas with a couple of friends. ThankS!!


  8. Robin Harris on March 13, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    I love this idea as well! And thanks for sharing the NCTM article!
    The Bomb-Diggity Classroom

  9. Anonymous on April 21, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    If you want to improve your know-how just keep visiting this web site and be updated with the most up-to-date news update posted here.

    Look at my weblog: metabolic rate calculator

  10. Mario e Omelete on April 26, 2013 at 11:10 am


    I found your blog via Pinterest and I enjoyed your activities. I made my son play with an activity of maths and another about telling time, based on the ideas you have shared here. So, I did link your on mine, to inform the origin of my activities. Thanks for sharing.
    Good job.

    Francisca (Portugal)

  11. Anonymous on December 5, 2013 at 4:05 am

    Wow, this is incredible. Found through pinterest. Thank you so much for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Sarah on May 19, 2014 at 12:57 am

    Thank you so much. I too found this on pinterest, and it was just what I needed. My latest foster daughter has no concept of time whatsoever, and that is one of our main tasks this summer.

  13. Table Talk with C and C on May 20, 2014 at 12:19 am

    Love these ideas! thanks so much for sharing!

  14. Table Talk with C and C on May 20, 2014 at 12:19 am

    Love these ideas! Found this blog post by searching activities on teaching telling time! So glad I found you!

    Table Talk with C&C

  15. Heather Unger on April 2, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Thanks so much for these great ideas. I will definitely implement them in my resource room.

  16. Anonymous on August 16, 2015 at 8:54 am

    Thank you for these ideas. I teach special needs teenagers and its not so much reading the time they struggle with its the actual concept of time…what it actually means, feels like. Lots of my students actually ask me constantly what's happening next and I realise now that this is because they have real anxiety because they can't feel time, let alone tell it. Hoping some of your ideas will help.

  17. Lady Lilith on November 25, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Love this idea. I will be using a few of these to help teach time. We are almost finished learning how to count by fives.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.