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Clock Time

Read on for useful tips for teaching kids how to tell clock time.

Analog time refers to a traditional clock with hands and marks denoting minutes, such as this one. [© Jupiter Images, 2010]
© Jupiter Images, 2010
Analog time refers to a traditional clock with hands and marks denoting minutes, such as this one.

Learning to tell clock time is an exciting time in a child's life. Once a child can tell time, they no longer have to ask what time it is. It also benefits adults because they can tell a child to be home by a certain time or watch television until a certain time without having to watch the clock for the child. But what is the best way to teach a child to tell time? Children must learn how to read both an analog clock and a digital clock. Using crafts, teachers and parents can teach kids how to tell time in a fun, memorable way.

Crafts for Analog Time

Analog time refers to a traditional clock with hands and marks denoting minutes. It's important that kids understand how to read both analog and digital clocks, because there won't always be a digital clock available. Schools, for instance, rarely keep digital clocks on their walls. Before starting any clock craft, kids must understand the basic parts of a clock face. Once they have the basics down, fun crafts will cement their understanding of telling time.

BrainPop explains a simple analog clock craft using a paper plate, paper and a small nail. Kids draw the face of a clock on the paper plate, using paper numbers, and then attach the minute and hour hands using a small nail or tack. Other ideas for the activity include letting the kids cut numbers for the clock out of magazines or using crayons and markers to draw the numbers. These become the clocks the kids use for practicing time.

Enchanted Learning has a similar craft. This site, however, provides a free printable clock face. Kids can glue the clock face to a piece of construction paper, fasten the hands, and use it to practice telling time. Enchanted Learning suggests writing statements that say the times at which they can do certain activities. They can also use the clocks to show the times of different events in their daily lives. At school, this could be lunch time, snack time, recess time and going home time. At home, this could be breakfast time, bedtime and dinnertime.

Most kids won't learn time skills in school until the first grade. However, parents wanting to teach toddlers and preschoolers the concept of time might use the idea for an all-ages clock from Wondertime. Parents can buy a clock kit from a craft store, but a sturdy paper plate or round piece of wood works just as well. The only mechanical items the kids will need are the clockwork pieces that make the clock functional. Follow these instructions for a clock that suits all ages:

  • Decorate the clock face using pictures and numbers. Draw the numbers in their appropriate places, then paste a fun picture above each number. Kids can choose animals, cars, foods or toys.
  • Glue pictures that relate to the theme onto the ends of the clock's hands. Wondertime suggests using an item that's fast for the minute hand, since it moves around the clock faster, and a slower item for the hour hand. A fast sports car and a minivan may work for a car-themed clock.
  • Attach the clockworks to the back of the clock and hang the clock on a wall.


Teaching Digital Time

While telling digital time seems easier for kids, it's still a good idea to craft a couple of fun items to emphasize telling digital time. One of the easiest ways to make a digital clock craft is to integrate it with the analog clock craft. Using the template from Enchanted Learning, kids can attach pieces of Velcro to the bottom of the clock. By drawing the numbers one through 12 and 00 through 59 on squares of paper, kids can attach the digital time pieces to the bottom of the analog clock.

While crafts do help a student retain information, most resources available for teaching digital time include games. A free digital clock game, such as the one at Softschools.com, shows an analog clock that lets students match the digital time. Game resources in the classroom and at home help students increase time-telling skills. Schools and families can also use game ideas to create a large classroom or family room digital clock. By having kids create a large analog clock with matching digital times on pieces of paper, kids can play a time-matching game using tape or Velcro.

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