Big Time Lessons

Teaching students about time can provide a way to talk about sundials, different types of clocks, and even time travel.

By Cathy Neushul

time lesson

Time is one of those concepts that is always good to review. In the elementary grade levels, students start by learning how to tell time using traditional clocks, and standard forms of measurement. But the fun doesn't have to stop there. Teachers can incorporate time lessons into a study of history, the sun, or even science fiction.

At first you might not think of time as something of historical interest, but students may get a kick out of learning about how the first clocks were developed. Students can also learn about how time pieces have changed over the years. They can discuss sun dials, wind up clocks, and our current atomic versions. Learning about clocks can become an interesting activity. Students can also make their own clocks. There is a lesson below which has students create a sundial, and plot the sun's movement during a day - a motivating lesson.

If you're like me, you might want to take things to a whole different level by discussing time travel. Who doesn't fantasize about going  back in time, and meeting a famous person you've always wanted to see? Personally, I'd go back to Shakespeare's time and check out one of his plays. But I wouldn't want to stay too long. London was interesting at this time, but not somewhere I'd want to live forever. A lesson featured below gives links to a variety of information about time travel coming from such people as Stephen Hawkins, and Carl Sagan. That could spice up the daily classroom experience.

Time Lesson Plans:

Just a Minute: Students learn about time by experimenting with how long a minute actually takes. They perform a number of activities, taking a math facts test, taking a spelling test, and reading aloud from "The Cat in the Hat". This lesson was interesting because it taps into students' knowledge, or lack of knowledge, about how long things actually take.

Time Travel : This lesson asks students to identify their place in the space-time continumum, and discuss what would happen if they went back in time. They delve into such topics as what would happen if they changed the course of history. It comes with links to information from Carl Sagan, and Stephen Hawkings. This is a truly novel way to learn about time.

Telling Time Timeline:  Students create a history of time timeline. They identify important events in the development of time, such as the creation of clocks. They do research and learn about sun dials, time pieces, and Franklin's clocks. This lesson provides a good way to change up the study of time.

Telling Time: Students tell time to the minute, half hour, and hour. They use the book "It's About Time Max!" to talk about time. This lesson comes with worksheets and helpful ideas.

Time Battleships: Students design their own battleship game to practice time concepts. While this game can be used for time, it can also be a way to practice vocabulary, spelling, or other topics. It's a fun way to get students to practice what they have learned.

Who Knows Where the Sun Goes?: In this lesson students make their own sundials, and plot the course of the sun. This lesson does a great job of explaining the concept of night and day by having students shine a flashlight on a globe. Students get the idea that when one side of the world is in sunlight, the other is dark.