“Everybody stop! Look what the time is… and go!” This is just one of the many things you will hear in our classroom when we are learning about time.
How do you feel about teaching time? Is it something you love or dread? I’ll be honest, I never got excited about pulling out the little clocks until I completely changed the way I taught! We use time EVERY SINGLE DAY and it’s crucial for our littles to master. So if you’re like I was, unenthusiastic about teaching time, let’s change that so we can make it fun for EVERYONE. Let me help you walk away with lots of fun, easy, and engaging ways to help your students learn about time AND have a blast!
The Biggest Challenge
In my many years of teaching first grade, I realized that the biggest challenge for students was accurately drawing the hands on a clock. It can be REALLY challenging, especially if students are already struggling with fine motor skills. It wasn’t until a few years ago that while giving an assessment (the worst time to realize this) that we were assessing something students couldn’t do. Even worse, it didn’t give us the data to tell us whether students could tell time or not!
It was from then on that I decided that I would NEVER assess being able to show the correct time on a clock by drawing the hands. I always help show students how to draw the hands on a clock and all of our practice activities are hands-on and concrete. By providing ample opportunities for students to physically create and manipulate clocks, students are MORE successful and have a deeper understanding of time. Having a strong foundation built on concrete experiences has been one of the biggest contributors I’ve seen in student success with telling time. If you want to learn more about using concrete learning to help students in math, you can learn more HERE!
Setting the Stage
Engagement is key. We know this. Get students really excited by explaining that they are going to learn to do something they will use their ENTIRE lives! I typically point to our analog clock on the wall and ask students what they already know about time. After we talk about clocks and time, I LOVE using BrainPOP Jr. to gain some more background knowledge about telling time. Below you’ll some of the great videos that really help students gain an understanding of time in a fun and quick way!
Parts of a Clock
Since first grade is the first time students are really exposed to telling time, we spend a lot of time learning about the parts of a clock and how clocks work. I love using Judy Clocks so that students can physically manipulate a clock and see how the hands move. Another great concrete way to learn about parts of a clock, is by working together to create our own class clock on the carpet together with a hula hoop! The hula hoop provides a big enough circle for us to put all the pieces of the clock together. Students LOVE helping to assemble the clock and can really see how it works. The hands are labeled so students can learn the difference between the two hands and why we need them on a clock. After we’ve created our class clock together, students get to make their own to take home!
I love using the template featured above so that students can physically put their clock together and see how it all works together. When they’ve finished cutting and gluing, we use a brad to attach the hands so the hands on the clock move! Students can practice moving the hands and creating different times on their clocks!
A few notes: I absolutely encourage students to use either our classroom clock or the clock we’ve created to help them. I want the clocks they practice with to be accurate! I also like to print these on cardstock so they last longer. Additionally, I’m usually the one to attach their hands with the brads so that the hands don’t get ruined. You can even glue this template onto the back of a paper plate for durability.
Teaching Time to the Hour
Now that we know HOW a clock works, we’re ready to learn to tell time to the hour! I show another BrainPOP Jr. about time to the hour and then we practice, practice, practice! As you know, I love adding books anywhere they fit in and a great read aloud for time to the hour is The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. As we read the book, students can use their hand made clocks or Judy clocks to show the time. We spend A LOT of time talking about how the hands move around the clock and what “o’clock” means. Another fun idea for teaching time to the hour comes from my friend over at Mrs.Rappsclass. She has her class listen to the song, “Rock Around the Clock” while having students record the time!
Teaching Time to the Half Hour
After mastering telling time to the hour, we move to telling time to the half hour. And I bet you can’t guess what I use to start again… BrainPOP Jr.! You guessed it! I honestly believe that BrainPOP has the BEST videos that really help students understand difficult concepts in a fun, and QUICK way.
The most challenging part about time to the half hour is helping students understand what the hour hand does, particularly when it’s not pointing exactly to a number. I have seen some really great strategies over the years to help students understand the concept but REALLY see it! One of my favorites is from Around the Kampfire! She uses pipe cleaners to make a hook so students can visually see what happens when the hour hand is in between two hours. This really helps students understand which hour has already passed! Brilliant and easy!
What Time Is it? Activity Time!!!
Of course, the key to master telling time is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! After students have learned about time to the hour and half hour, we have a lot of mixed practice for students to really understand the concept. Here are some engaging hands-on center ideas!
“What Time is it?”
This can be played all throughout your day! Randomly do a “time check” and students have to stop what they are doing and record the time. It is an authentic and fun way to get practice writing the digital and analog time. I always add a little competition and see if students can record all the times correctly to earn a prize! Click on the picture below to see a video of the activity in action! They get SO excited to record the times!
Here’s a fun and educational way to get students outside and moving! Students can use all their newly acquired clock skills by building their very own human clock with their classmates. You can work together as a class to construct and write the numbers all around the clock with some sidewalk chalk. Once your clock is drawn, students will shout out a time for kids to take turns becoming the hands on a clock. When you’ve finished with that activity, pair them off to create different analog and digital times on their own clocks. They love using chalk so give them some and let them go! They’ll have a great time, get some fresh air, and practice all those great time skills you’ve been working on.
“Egg”Citing Time Hunt
Students LOVE hunting for eggs! This is a super simple and easy game to play and put together. All you need are: plastic eggs – one half with the analog time and the other half with the digital time, grass, container, and recording sheet. The students hunt through the grass to find the matching times. When they find a match, they record it on their sheet. I also like to add numbers to the bottom of the egg so they know where to record their time. This game is SUPER engaging for students and a great way to practice analog and digital time!
Write the Room
Write the Room activities are always a great way to get kids up and moving! You can grab this Telling Time Write the Room activity for FREE by subscribing now!
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This activity is an engaging way for students to practice telling and writing time! They simply roll the hour and minute dice, and record the time. I like to laminate these so they can be played over and over again. You can grab this fun activity for free HERE!
These are just like any bingo game! Print as many bingo cards as there are players (there are 3 different versions) as well as the digital clocks. Students will match the analog and digital times to try and get a bingo! The first person to get a bingo wins! They LOVE this activity and beg to play it!
Spin and Cover
Students can play this game together! They will each choose a color and take turns spinning the spinner. They will cover the analog clocks around the board for the time that they spin. This will continue until all the clocks are covered. Whoever has the most times covered at the end… WINS!
You can grab all these engaging, hands on time activities HERE!
I’m all about bringing literature into math! Students can never have enough opportunities to read and listen to stories. Below are some fun and engaging books to teach about time!
Digital Time Resources
Here are some digital resources I use to help teach and reinforce time.
Below you’ll see the jam packed growing time bundle that includes ALL these engaging activities… with a FREEBIE of course! This bundle will help you have an engaging, fun, and hands on time unit that your students are sure to love and remember!
Time is a CRUCIAL life skill for students. Let’s help students not only be successful but have FUN doing it! I really hope you enjoyed learning more about how to teach time in the classroom! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including the Telling Time Write the Room FREEBIE! You will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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