Want to add FUN to your Math block?

Tips & Tricks for Telling Time

There are a few standards that are a challenge to teach kids and telling time is high up on that list! Am I right?!

I mean, what makes sense about this: there are 12 numbers on the clock but in order to tell time, one needs to count by 1s or 5s to tell the time? Confusing, right?

At Back to School Night, I BEG my families to resist the temptation to get their child a digital watch. It’s just reading numbers as opposed to actually telling time.

True story: I had a super smart friend growing up. But when she’d visit my house, she would always ask the time. My mom pointed out the clock but she kept asking! Then it dawned on my mom – she could NOT read an analog clock!

But like anything else that is tricky, it just takes practice, practice, practice!

Read on to learn a few of my favorite tips, tricks, and resources for telling time.

This post contains affiliate ads at no cost to you. See my disclosures for more information.

Introduce the Concept of Time

Before you even pull out a clock, make sure you have a discussion with your students about the concept of morning, afternoon, and evening.

You can discuss all the things you do at various times of the day and determine what part of the day those activities happen.

To take it a step further, ask your students how long those things may take. It’s funny to hear how long they think things take!

A fun exercise is to set a timer to see how long they can stay quiet or run in place for. They’ll be shocked to learn that it’s probably around a minute or so 🙂

Then, you can move into the basics of the clock.

Number Houses

Years ago I stumbled on this amazing blog post from Cindy Lee and it has been a game-changer for teaching about telling time! She suggests teaching the students that each hour has its own house. It is SO smart! Go read her post because she explains it beautifully and you’ll immediately wonder why you never thought of this!

Classroom Aids

With the dawn of the phone, smart devices, and digital clocks everywhere, learning to tell time on an analog clock is becoming a lost art!

But, there are so many awesome resources you can add to your classroom to at least give your students exposure to analog clocks!

A Judy Clock

Isn’t it a rule that every classroom must have a Judy Clock? It’s so simple but genius to have two different colors on this clock!

Or snag this set that has a teacher clock + 24 little clocks to give your students hands-on practice.

Classroom Clock

This clock is not only cute but it’s super functional! The hands are labeled with names, the hour numbers are bright and even each minute is labeled, too! And the best part? It doesn’t make that annoying ticking sound!

Clock Numbers

If you can’t commit to a new clock in your room, add a little flair to your room with these clock numbers! Just cut them out and affix them to any clock in your room. You can adjust the size on your printer to make them bigger or smaller.

Sign up below to grab the FREE numbers.

Daily Schedule Clocks

To make time more relative to your students, snag some cheap clocks from Ikea and set the important times of the day {aka the times they are ALWAYS asking about!} on those clocks. This makes a great visual for your students to reference throughout the day.

This is a peek from my classroom – if you want to see more, check out this post!

Read Books

There are some fun books to help drive home the abstract concept of time! Here are a few of my favorites:

A Second, a Minute, a Week with Days in It: A Book about Time 

Telling Time

The Grouchy Ladybug

Sing songs, of course!

This first video focuses on time to the hour.

Once they’ve mastered that, it’s time to move on! This catchy tune will be in your head ALL the time! That’s the point, right?


Give your students ample practice in the classroom. Our adopted math program zoooooommmms through telling time so I always supplement with extra activities.

Secret Agent Telling Time is SURE to be a hit! There are three sets of task cards included, as well as printable worksheets to practice time to the hour and the half hour. I promise your students will beg to play this game!

A no-prep game that will give your students even more practice is Beat the Clock. Simply project this PowerPoint game in your classroom and students record the time on the included worksheet or even a whiteboard to make it truly no prep! There are a few options included to meet the needs of your classroom.

I’ve also included time games in Centers in a Snap games! Telling time games are included in November, December, April and May games for 1st grade and in November, December, April and June for 2nd grade boxes.

Here’s a peek at the May 1st grade game, Hoppin’ Through Time.

Go grab your Centers in a Snap box and add all sorts of math games to your daily math routine!

Encourage Parents to Practice at Home

As we know, telling time is something that will take time to learn and honestly, can’t be mastered in the classroom. Suggest to your families to think about getting their child a learning watch!

This cute watch is relatively inexpensive and more importantly, is not digital!

Have any tricks that you love for teaching telling time? Leave a comment and let me know!

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Sign up to get ideas sent right to your inbox!

Lucky List

Sign up to get ideas sent right to your inbox!