What’s the time?

Here are some ideas and resources for teaching students to tell the time. 

Formative Assessment 

Start with a question or problem to determine students’ level of understanding regarding time. For example, show students 2 clocks and have students record what they notice and what they wonder.

Watching the clock 

Whole class activity- Record the time very 5 minutes, for 35 minutes.


Students glued strips of clock faces into their maths book, prior to 9:00am.

I used the following clock to display the real time on the interactive white board, so all students could see: https://www.visnos.com/demos/clock

I thought students could do a colouring/mindfulness sheet in between the 5 minute intervals, however by the time we had discussed what the time was, different ways we could write it and what they noticed, we needed to record the next time.


Clock as a timeline 

As a class, we worked through the following steps:

  1. Each table group got an A3 piece of paper. The paper was folded into quarters (horizontally) and cut, to make strips of paper. Each student got one strip of paper.
  2. Each student, folded their strip in half (horizontally) and ruled a line along the fold.
  3. Next, each student folded the strip of paper into sixteenths (vertically), by folding the paper in 1/2, 4 times.
  4. Then, each student put a mark on each fold line. We numbered each mark, counting by ones. Students cut half way between 12 and 13, with the numbers above 12, being discarded.
  5. I then told students that we were going to have a second numberline on the same piece of paper, which counted in fives. Students used a different coloured marker to write the numbers. ***This is when students started to make connections between the numberline and a clock.
  6. We had a discussion about how the number line and clock were similar and different.
  7. Students cut their numbeline, between each number.
  8. Students then arranged their numbers to make a clock face. The picture of a clock in the middle of the number line numbers, was create without prompting and was the student’s way of comparing the two clocks.
  9. Students wrote a reflection, to demonstrate their understanding of the connections made during the lesson.  Click here for resource.


Practise Telling the Time IMG_1224 2.jpg

***Students all have physical clocks on their tables (as shown in the picture on the right). When the minute hand moves, they can see how the hour hand moves.  

  • Match times, includes: matching digital, analogue and time in words. This resource can also be used to create memory cards.
    Click here times for matching resource (digital and analogue times only). clock match
  • Time worksheet: write the digital time and time in words. All students start with the physical clock, which they can use to change the time. Click here for editable worksheet. Click here for pdf. 
  • Ordering times: Students draw hands on the analogue clock to match the digital clock or time in words, cut out the clocks and glue the clocks in order, in their maths book. Task can be edited to increase or decrease difficulty: for example, all the times could be digital (no time in words). Click here for editable resource. Click here for pdf. 
  • Time before and time after: Students glue a clock face  which shows the time one hour before, and one hour after. Click here for resource that can be edited to increase or decrease difficulty. Click here for pdf. 
  • Peer mentor: One time worksheet between two students. Students take it in turns to write the time (prior discussion of ‘fairness’ and team work). 
  • Set ‘telling the time’ tasks on http://www.studyladder.com . Free resource but you will need to create a class prior to the lesson as students will need usernames and passwords. 
  • Clock game: (Free, with three levels of difficulty)

***Note: I recommend using the editable resources, as you can tailor the resource to the needs of your students. I have also included a pdf, in case you are not able to open Word documents.

On-going practise/formative assessment 

I start each time lesson with a 10 minute starter/warm up. I will show a question on the interactive white board, each student writes the answer of their individual whiteboard, and simultaneously holds their answers up when instructed to do so. This gives me immediate feedback on students’ level of understanding.

During the start of the unit, students will practise reading the time. I will display a time on the board either using this free resource: https://www.visnos.com/demos/clock or by drawing a clock/time. Later, I start introducing problem solving questions, as part of this routine.


Problem Solving with Time 

I use the following sources for problem solving questions involving time:

More maths…

Click here for more hands-on maths learning experiences.

Click here for information about the structure of maths lessons and effective pedagogical practice.


More resources… 

Click here for good resources for other curriculum areas.

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