Teaching Kids to Tell Time: Lessons for Parents and Teachers

Telling time is a life skill that children will be using for the rest of their lives. Although it might seem challenging or even boring for some kids, you can make it fun by using the interactive lessons below.

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How to Help Kids Tell Time

Personalized Clocks

Owning a watch of their own may motivate children to learn how to tell time because they'll want to use their new watch. As a parent, you could buy your child an analog watch. In addition, your child could become the official time teller of the family. Whenever family members need to know the time, they should ask your child. This activity is not only fun, but it will also give your child plenty of practice with telling time.

In the classroom, create paper clocks for your students to use. Allow them to decorate their clocks however they like. When you switch periods, tell your students to change their paper clocks to the current time. For instance, if recess begins at 12:05, then every student's clock should have the little hand on the 12 and the big hand on the five. Once everyone has the correct time, recess can begin.

Time Riddles

Use word problems to help your child or students add and subtract periods of time. Make it fun by telling a story like the example below.

On Saturday, Sarah saw three movies. The first movie started at 12:30 p.m. and ended at 2:30 p.m. The second movie started at 3:30 p.m. and ended at 5:00 p.m. The final movie began at 6:00 p.m. and was over at 7:50 p.m. How long did Sarah spend watching movies?
Answer: Sarah spent five hours and 20 minutes watching movies.

In 2nd grade, students begin telling time to the nearest five minutes. Depending on your child or students' ability level, you might use easier or more difficult intervals of time.

Human Watches

Create a large clock face using paper that's big enough for a child to lie on. In groups, have your students label the clock and place it on the ground. Allow each group to take a turn at the clock; one student per group will act as the big hand and the little hand by lying on the paper clock face. When you call out a time, the other students in the group should adjust the student's arms so that their clock reads the correct time. You can do the same activity at home and have your child act out the times using his or her arms.

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