Teaching your child how to tell the time can be hard. Our time keeping system, and reading an analogue clock, are complicated. To help your child tell the time, let’s make the lesson fun, hands-on, and as clear and simple as possible. Download my homemade clock printable and use these telling-the-time lesson ideas to help.
Easy telling the time lesson with clock free printable
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Teaching your child how to tell the time can be hard. Our time keeping system, and reading an analogue clock, is complicated. We have 24 hours in the day but the clock only goes to twelve? The number one means five past? How do you remember which hand is which and which to read first?
To help your child tell the time, let’s make the lesson fun, hands-on, and as clear and simple as possible.
Download my homemade clock printable and use these ideas to help.
How to use this printable
Print the telling the time sheets (see below) onto card.
You will also need:
:: a split pin
:: two light-coloured pencils
:: a pencil or marker to write with
:: glue stick or sticky tack
How to teach telling the time
Learning to tell the time using a clock is complicated.
You need to understand:
:: day and night
:: the daily cycle of activities
:: what each digit means
:: the five times table
:: a.m. and p.m.
:: and that the clock is based on the numbers to 12 whereas the counting your child is most likely used to is using a base of 10.
There is a lot of complex information to pull together to tell the time. It’s important to build on this process over a long period so that the learning is fun, flows along from one concept to the next, and makes real sense to your child.
Learning time, step by step
Take things at the right pace for your child.
Notice together how the sky outside changes through the day and night.
Make a circle chart with pictures of the activities you do at different times of the day. Help your child see the pattern and flow of a day, and then later match them to specific times.
Have fun wearing a homemade watch and pretending to tell the time. This is valuable as it helps them understand the first principles of matching a clock to different times of day, or when it might be important to know the precise time. Play is important. You can see how to make a toy watch craft here.
Take a look at a clock and notice all the parts that make it: the hands, the numbers, the way the hands move…
When you begin to learn to read the time from a clock or a watch, start by learning about the o’clocks, then the half pasts, then the quarter pasts and quarter tos, then the five past, ten past times, and so on. You can use the clock printable below to help you with this.
How to make your own clock craft
Let’s use the first sheet of the clock printable to make our own clock that we can use to practice telling the time.
1. Colour in each half of the clock in a different colour to show the ‘past’ half and the ‘to’ half.
2. Write in the hour numbers in the circles, from one to twelve. Remind your child that we go around these twelve hour numbers twice each day, through the morning (a.m.) and through the afternoon/evening (p.m.).
3. Cut out the minute and hour hands. Use a split pin to fasten them both in the centre of the clock, so that you can move the hands around to clock to indicate the time.
Remind your child that the minute hand is bigger and we read that first. The hour hand is smaller and we read that second.
4. Cut out the word cards (‘o’clock, half past, 5 to, etc.) and help your child place them in the correct spots around the outside of the clock. You can use glue or sticky tack to hold them in place.
To count the minutes, we need to use the sixty minutes that make up each hour. To begin with we will focus on the main stations around the clock, counting up in fives, and our word cards will help us remember how we commonly say each time point (five past, quarter past, half past etc.)
Then you’re ready to begin using your clock to tell the time.
How to use your clock craft to learn to tell the time
Set the hands to an o’clock time and show your child how to read the time. Where are the hour and minute arrows/hands?
Look at a real clock and then make the hands on your homemade clock match the real time.
Talk about what time you get up, what time you go to bed, and see if your child can place the hands in the right place on their watch to match.
Shout out a time and see how fast your child can make their clock match.
Remember that this is a complicated system! Take your time, add in fun, and enjoy using your homemade clock.
Repeated practice is important here, so continue to support your child as they become more confident reading the clock.
More telling the time activities
There are more telling the time activities on NurtureStore that you can use to support your child are they learn about time:
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