Being able to tell time is one of those abilities that I take for granted as an adult. Since my 6 year old is a pretty fast learner and good at math, I figured it was time for him to learn to read an analog clock. He’s been able to “read” a digital clock for awhile, but he has no real understanding of what it means. He knows daddy will be home when the clock says 5:45, but if it’s 5:42, he’ll still pester me with “How much longer?” An analog clock should give him a better conceptual understanding of the passage of time, since he can literally watch the seconds tick by and get a feel for how far the minute hand has to travel until it gets to the desired location, but teaching this skill has been more challenging than I anticipated.
After creating this reusable “What Time Is It?” learning material, he can now “read” an analog clock pretty well (as long as we practice at least once every 2 or 3 days). However, honestly, he still needs a bit more time for a conceptual understanding to sink in. For example, if the time is 5:40, I would love for him to be able to look at the clock and realize instantly that it will be 5:45 in 5 minutes. However, he’s not there yet, and I’m not going to push it. I never realized before that analog clocks are such an awesome way to practice and understand math. I’m sure eventually he’ll make the connections on his own and his math abilities will be stronger for having gone through that process.
There are 3 pages that I made to help my son learn how to tell time. I laminated them all so that we could write on them with a dry erase marker and reuse them (and also because I have an unhealthy love for my laminator.) The first is just a series of small clocks with the hands missing. I draw them on and my son writes the time underneath. I mostly used this page to teach him how to read a clock when the minute hand was pointing to the 12 and the 6.
Next I made a clock with movable hands attached with a paper fastener once he was ready for something a little more advanced. This could be used two ways. Either a) I move the hands to a time and have him write the time below or b) I write the time below and have him move the hands to that time. As long as I walked him step by step through each problem, he was able to read and understand both the digital and analog times. However, after a few days of holding his hand through this process, I decided to make him his own checklist, so that he could start doing them independently.
- paper for printing What Time Is It? printable
- 4 thermal laminating pouches
- paper fastener (also known as a brad)
Supplies & Tools:
- dry-erase marker
- x-acto knife or other pointy object (not pictured)
- Print out and laminate all sheets of the What Time Is It? printable.
- Cut out the clock hands.
- Push the paper fastener through the clock hands. I used an x-acto knife to poke a hole in all three pieces before attaching them together.
- Attach the clock hands to the large clock.
Watch your child learn to tell time in a hands-on, independent way!