Teaching Students to Tell Time

Teaching students to tell time can be an opportunity to teach students about time management as well.

By Elisa Jackson


Telling Time

Whether you are a person who likes to schedule their time carefully, or someone who goes with the flow, we all have to be aware of the time. Getting to work, school, athletic practice, or bed on time is a necessity. That is why it is important for students to learn at an early age how to tell time and be aware of how to manage their time. Even children need to figure out how long it will take them to get ready to go to school, or how much time they have to complete their homework before bedtime. Students who have great time management skills can make their school and home life go more smoothly.

In this age of technology, many students already know how to tell time on a digital clock. But many situations they will find themselves in will require them to tell time on an analog clock. To start teaching students to tell time on an analog clock, it is important to have a model to show them. Using a large clock that everyone can see easily can be very helpful. With this big version of the clock, students can easily see the important features, and count the minutes. Then, you can provide students with smaller versions of the same clock, so they can work with you in order to learn through hands on activities. The clocks can be made or purchased. Various educational companies sell these types of clocks.

Just like with any other subject in math, teaching students about time follows a specific sequence. You can start by showing examples on your large clock, and having them identify the hour and minute hands. Students can use their smaller clocks to show the same time. Once they know the difference between the hour and minute hands, they can practice identifying the time to the hour, half hour, quarter hour, and eventually to the minute. Within these lessons, you will also need to practice using specific examples that students might find tricky to identify. For example, 5:52 on an analog clock looks like 6:52 to students who are just learning. This is because the hour hand looks like it’s pointing to the six. It is very important to practice looking at the minute hand and then identifying the hour with it. Once you feel that students can identify time on your clock, and demonstrate time on their clocks, they can complete independent worksheets identifying the time.

Like all other subjects, telling time can best be reinforced by being practiced in everyday situations. Therefore, while you are teaching other subjects, or simply having conversations with your students, ask them to look at the clock and tell you what time it is. You can practice this skill by asking students to tell you the current time, or ask how many more minutes until you move on to the next activity. This will force students to use their time-telling skills in practical situations. And when students start applying something you have taught them throughout the day, that is when you know you have successfully taught a valuable lesson! Below are a few lessons to help your students learn how to tell time.

Telling Time:

Telling Time to Five Minutes

Students use their own clocks to practice demonstrating time to the nearest five minutes. They learn by using individual clocks.

The Grouchy Ladybug Tells Time

Students listen to the book "The Grouchy Ladybug" by Eric Carle and discuss how time is read in this story. Then students practice telling time on their own and relating it back to the book.

Telling time: Multiple Choice

Students have three choices to choose from when determining the correct time on each of the four clocks. This is a good worksheet for students who are just learning and don't have the skill mastered quite yet.

Telling time in One Minute Intervals

In this telling time worksheet, students tell time to the one minute for each of the nine clocks given to them. This will show what the students know independent of teacher guidance.