Time is one of the most used daily math skills by people in all age groups, so it is an important and timely topic year-round and in each grade of elementary school!
No matter the age of the students you are working with, the list below will offer you eight activities teaching the concepts of time that can be adapted to meet your needs. To adjust for your students’ grade level, adapt the intervals of counting: for older students, make the intervals more intricate such as down to the minute or including seconds. For example, first graders only need to be able to differentiate by the half hour while second graders should be able to tell time to the nearest five-minute interval. Some of these activities naturally lend themselves to larger groups of students in a school setting, but any of them can work in the classroom with organization and ample preparation.
#1 Make a Clock
Give students a hands-on experience with the parts of the clock by building their own. How is the minute hand different than the hour hand? By allowing students an experience in cutting out different length arrows and physically manipulating them on a student-made clock, they will have a greater chance of remembering the difference.
Download the Make a Clock Activity to get the step-by-step procedure for grades K–2.
#2 Outside Clock
Turn outdoor play time into a mini lesson by using chalk and a hula hoop to make a clock or draw your own.
#3 “Feeling” Time Contest
Many students love the chance to compete, and “feeling” time is an easy-to-implement game that requires no additional supplies. There are two ways to conduct the contest:
#4 Clothespin Line
A craft and time practice all in one! Have your student help you label clothes pins with different times. Then hang a line across a room and allow students to work as a team to hang the clothes pins on the line in order. Consider these adaptations to meet the needs of your students:
#5 Daily Timeline
Help students adjust to a new routine by developing a daily schedule. This could be for their at-home routine, their class schedule during the day, or a combination of both! Depending on the length of time you devote to this task, it could become a project by including a creativity/visual requirement, and/or requiring students to draw a clock with the time the activity begins on their schedule.
#6 Give the Teacher Homework
Swap responsibilities and have students ask the questions. This can be an in-class or homework task. Have students use a scenario in their real life to create a story problem involving time. It is always helpful to share an example with students such as: Sofia went to a softball game at 1:30 PM. The game was 2 hours long. Will she be home in time to watch her favorite cartoon at 3:00 PM? How do you know?
#7 Time Bingo
In an increasingly technological world filled with digital clocks, do your students know how to read an analog clock? Create bingo boards with a combination of digital clocks, analog clocks, and times spelled out as words. Help students practice going between the three by playing a game of bingo.
#8 Time Dominoes
If you are looking to purchase a new manipulative or use one to teach time, try time dominoes. Students can play to practice matching times and learn the game of dominoes which can be turned into math practice with many other topics.
Practicing time-telling skills can be as fun and engaging as they are important. Try one or all of eight ideas for teaching time in your elementary classroom or shared with families to try at home to help develop students' ability to tell and reason about time.