1 Telling Time

In order to practice this at home, it helps to have a sheet of clocks without the hands.  I keep plenty on hand here at school.  If you’d like a bunch, let me know, and I’ll put them in the students’ mailboxes.

Students who are not secure in telling time tend to fall into two groups:  the ones who forget which hand means what; and what number gets written first when writing the time.  Here are some things to keep in mind when you practice at home.

Work with time lasts all year.  If the students are not completely feeling secure with it in the fall, they will have continued practice all year; however, their goal for the fall is to be secure with the minute hand:  see the first section below entitled minute hand.

The Minute Hand

Focus just on the minute hand.  Pick various minutes on the clock (at this point just choose multiples of five) and ask them to draw the minute hand and where it would be pointing.  When they draw the minute hand here at school, I require that it be drawn straight through the clock so that it touches the minute it’s pointing to.  I say to the students, “In order for me to know if you have the answer correct, your minute hand must touch the minute you think is the answer.  If you’re showing me minute 30, draw the hand straight down going right out the clock at that bottom minute.”  Doing this tends to help a lot in clearing up what each hand is supposed to be pointing too.

I also discourage answer like the following:  If I were to say, “Given the time, 4:15, where does the minutes hand go?”  If the students say, “It goes at the three.”  I tell them that that is incorrect.  I teach them to say, “It goes at that dot straight across from the three.”  Focus on those dots/minutes/markings.

Remember, too, to do this activity in reverse.  You as the parent, draw a minute hand someone on the clock and ask, “What minute is my minute hand pointing to?”

The Hour Hand

Now for the hour hand – they are taught to say to me that the hour hand ONLY points to the numbers on a clock.  The long hand does NOT point to the numbers.”

What makes practicing the hour hand at home difficult is that you need a play clock that allows you to speed up time.  I hold the play clock at school and say, “I’m going to move the minute hand rather quickly.  You watch the hour hand and tell me what you see.”

After that (let’s say we’re starting the clock at 3:00), I’ll move the minute hand a bit slower and stop at various minutes, and ask, “When I stop the minute hand at minute 15, where is the hour hand?”  (slightly off the three)  “When I point the minute hand to minute thirty, where is the hour hand?”  (in between two numbers)  “When I stop the minute hand at minute 45, where is the hour hand?”  (almost on the next number)  Then we have a discussion about how it stays in the three o’clock hour even though the little hand isn’t exactly on the three.  This is the trickiest part for them; and it takes time for them to understand this abstract movement of the hour hand.


If the students are feeling very secure with telling time, you can make it more of a challenge in the following ways:

Draw the time on a clock.  Ask the students to write down what time it is.  Then pose questions like this:

What time will it me in ten minutes?

What time was it ten minutes ago?

What time will it be in thirty minutes?

What time was it thirty minutes ago?

What time will it be in two hours?

What time was it two hours ago?

Questions like the ones above can be made easier or more difficult all depending on the starting time you give.  So with this part, start easy.  Say, “Draw me 4:00.”  Then ask questions from this time like the ones above.  After that, go to a time with that ends in thirty, “Draw 7:30 on the clock?”  (check to see if they’ve drawn that little hand in between the seven and the eight!)  Then ask the questions above.    The most challenging variation would be to give a starting time like 9:50 and then ask questions that cause the time to go into a new hour.

Reminder:  just let me know whenever you’d like some blank clocks to use as practice at home.