Friday, July 6, 2012

Resources for Telling the Time

Children need to learn to tell the time, both for school and for life in general. Like lots of learning activities, I think it makes good sense to point out to kids when time matters in your daily life. For example: "Oh, it's 3.00 pm. See how the little hand it pointing to 3 and the big hand is pointing to 12? Time to pick up Joey from pre-school." Or "Let's check the clock. 7:30. Grandma will be here soon."

Make a game of noticing different types of clocks at home, or when you're out and about. A simple timetable, perhaps with clipart or sketched pics, of daily routines can help, and extending this to a family calendar helps the whole family get more organized. Giving kids wooden or plastic clocks they can manipulate in their pretend play works well too.

Use time terms like yesterday and tomorrow, and try to put them into context for kids. Have kids estimate time. My students always loved it when I used a stopwatch. I would get them to do an activity like hopping for one minute, and ask them to stop when they thought the minute was up. Or rest quietly for two minutes, raising their hands when the time was up. They began to get suspicious when I increased the quiet rest to 30 minutes! If you don't have a stopwatch or egg timer, try an online timer.

For kids who struggle with telling the time, here are some online resources that might provide the practice they need.

ABCya has Time Travel: Learn to tell Time. I like the fact that digital and analogue clocks are side by side here.

Here's an interactive booklet on telling the time. It's been created for learners of English, but some pages are applicable to all learners. Turn the pages by dragging the bottom right corner. On pp 18, 19 and 21, kids listen to a sentence and check the applicable digital time.

Here's a simple test to check whether kids can translate time in words to digital time, and the reverse, change time in digits to time in words.

The British Council has a What's the Time game with three levels of difficulty. Kids click on the analogue hands to move them to the correct time. They also have a downloadable clockface but you need to login for access.

Primary Games has What Time is It? "Look at the analog clock and tell the time. Then pick the digital clock that shows the same time."

Here's a game that has some fun built in. It's called Bang on Time, and the idea is to beat the ticking clock by stopping the hands on the correct time. There's a nice element of tension built in because of the loud ticking, but you can also adjust how quickly the hands move, making it accessible to lower primary kids.

Time Monsters has kids listen to directions rather than reading any directions. There are monsters trying to "distract" you from telling time, which adds a modicum of fun.

Here's a time song featuring all the o'clocks on Youtube, suitable for pre-school and Kindergarten.

I love the Youtube clip embedded below of Music Time with SteveSongs. It has a lovely bouncy time song and encourages kids to dance and sing along. Perfect for young learners.

Image credit, Morguefile, embellished at Picnik. 


  1. Very practical note. I rememeber, that when I was a child, my grandmother had taken me to different places in my city. We were travelling by trams - like me today. I wasn't patient, so my grandmother adviced me to number minutes and seconds - to 60 and again to 60. By this she explained me how to wait for tram :)

  2. @ZimThanks so much for commenting, Zim! Your grandmother had a great idea.

  3. Thank you so much for this list - It's very helpful :)

  4. @Love and Lollipopsgood to know. Thanks for the feedback!

  5. This is great. I also suggest if you had an iPad that you check out


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