Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Telling Time for Beginners

We picked up this Dr. Seuss foam clock from Target. It was something that J really wanted, and I was hoping we can learn a little more about time from an analog (non-digital) clock.

J has always been an early riser in the morning. We got a digital clock when he was around 18 months, so he can start recognizing numbers, in hopes that he would understand not making a peep until 7:00 am on Saturday mornings. It worked to an extent.

At 4, he can tell us what time the digital clock reads. He is able to say if his school is closed if it's after 6:00 pm. However, he still doesn't understand that the next numbers in minutes after 59 is 00.

So when we saw the clock at Target for $0.50, I figured whynot? It'll at least start the discussion about time.

Points we've discussed so far:
1. The hour hand is the little arrow. Wherever the little hand is first, that's the first number you say. On real analog clocks, the little hand moves slowly to the next number as the big hand ticks away the minutes. This is a little too advance for my 4 year old at this moment. If your kid is grumpy about the little hand not being exactly on 3 when it's 3:30, explain that you take the number you come across before the arrow when going around the clock (ie. if it's between 3 and 4, you get to 3 first when tracing the edge of the clock with your fingers, clockwise).

2. Each of the numbers represents 5. Starting at 1, we are learning to count by 5's around the clock. This is a really hard concept. I don't know how best to explain the numbers and that 1 really means 5 minutes and 2 really means 10 minutes, etc. If you have insight on helping pretty little kids understand minutes of the clock or counting by 5's, I'd appreciate any help.

Reception: J likes to learn about the clock. He'll bring it to me with a time that he sets and asks me to tell him what time it is. We'll work through the problem together, and he typically asks for another time problem. We have yet to get past two separate time telling problems at a time.

You can make your own clock with a paper plate, two arrows (print them out from Word or the internet), and a brad. If you make your own, you can decorate it however you and your child desires.

How have you introduced time telling in your family? Have you been successful?


  1. What a cute clock! We have a play clock that we have used to teach the kids to tell time, with varying success. I've heard that the best way is to get kids a wrist watch, but we haven't tried yet.

  2. I am just wrapping up my post about telling time. We introduced an analog clock comparing it with a digital clock and, of course, through books. I am linking your post as a resource to mine :)

    1. Thanks, Natalie! I just read your great post and will share on Social Media today.