Clocks

Teaching Young Children About Time

Small children are always asking when certain things are going to happen:

"When are we going to eat lunch?"
"When is recess?"
"When will Mom get home?"
 "When can I go and play?"

Of course, small children also don't have an accurate grasp on the concept of increments of time. Days, months, hours, and minutes are all very fuzzy concepts to them. So to help kids start to understand how to measure time, I borrowed an idea from mathematics guru John Van de Walle. His brilliant idea is to take the minute hand off of a clock so that children can focus on the hand that gives them the most important information: the hour hand. 


I had to break the plastic covering to get to the minute hand, but after that, it was easy to snip off the minute hand with a pair of scissors. Now that only the hour hand shows, the children can begin to conceptualize how long an hour is, and when certain things will happen. If I tell them, "Lunch, will be at 11". They know to watch for when the hour hand is pointing exactly at the 11. And, during that time, can watch the speed at which the hour hand moves from number to number to gain an idea of how long an hour is exactly. We can also use the hour hand to begin to use time vocabulary in a way that makes sense. For example:


"It's almost 9 o'clock" 
"It's just past 12"
"It's half past 1"
"It's exactly 10 o'clock"


I've found that using an "hour hand only" clock has given my kids a lot of independence. They can now check it on their own to find out if it's time for certain things to happen that are always at the same time. They can find out if it's lunch time or play time on their own, which gives them a sense of control over the day as well as an introduction to how time is measured.

Happy New Year: COMPLETE Thematic Unit

Although learning to tell time is not a math skill, and is not included as a Common Core Standard in kindergarten, the teaching of clocks as a tool for mathematical thinking is crucial. 

A clock is made of the numbers 1-12 laid out in numerical order. This alone makes the clock a handy aid when teaching counting and cardinality. Giving a student opportunity to work with clocks help develop number recognition, sequencing, and numerical order.

I think I have introduced clocks the first day back from winter break for the entire 23 years of my career (thank you Ruth Hepworth). Waiting for Monday morning, right at my carpet/calendar area, I have my little student size Judy Clocks ready to go and my copy of Hap Palmer’s, Paper Clocksready for the play button to be pushed. After we have manipulated the clocks to the song a couple of times, I love to have the students construct their own clocks to take home and show off their new skill of telling time to the hour. 


You may wish to check out our Happy New Year Unit that focuses on ways to measure time: Clocks and Calendars.


Clocks, Calendar, and New Year Fun

Although learning to tell time is not a math skill, and is not included as a Common Core Standard in kindergarten, the teaching of clocks as a tool for mathematical thinking is crucial. 

A clock is made of the numbers 1-12 laid out in numerical order. This alone makes the clock a handy aid when teaching counting and cardinality. Giving a student opportunity to work with clocks help develop number recognition, sequencing, and numerical order.

I think I have introduced clocks the first day back from winter break for the entire 23 years of my career (thank you Ruth Hepworth). Waiting for Monday morning, right at my carpet/calendar area, I have my little student size Judy Clocks ready to go and my copy of Hap Palmer’s, Paper Clocks ready for the play button to be pushed. After we have manipulated the clocks to the song a couple of times, I love to have the students construct their own clocks to take home and show off their new skill of telling time to the hour. 


You may wish to check out our Happy New Year Unit that focuses on ways to measure time: Clocks and Calendars.

Clocks in Kindergarten



Telling time is not one of the Common Core Standards for kindergarten, however, there is still merit in introducing clocks. Through a clock unit, you can:
reinforce number recognition and the count sequence.
challenge students.
help students develop a lifeskill.
prepare students to meet a first grade Common Core standard.

We have a clock unit combined with our New Year’s unit, but you can introduce clocks at almost any time during the year. Kindergarten students enjoy working with large and small manipulative clocks. Most kids can easily tell time to the hour with either analog or digital times after just a few time-telling lessons. If clocks aren’t already a part of your curriculum, give them a try.Teach a few lessons, add them to your opening activities, and have a little time-telling fun!