Teaching Time

From a quarter-of to the 59-minute mark, children struggle to understand why an hour hand is pointing almost (often looking like it really is) on a number. It is very difficult to explain why it is actually the smaller number (or 12) that is the hour.

To make this simpler, use the analogy of one trip around the clock for the minute hand equaling a “year/12 months” for the hour hand.

Set the clock to 5:15. Ask children, when you are five and a quarter, have you turned six yet? No! You’re older than five, but you aren’t six until you have your sixth birthday. Do this with half-past and quarter-to as well.

When the minute hand reaches twelve, shout out, “Happy Birthday, Hour Hand! Now you are ____ years old!”

Quarter Marks on Clock

Understanding where the hour hand points is one of the hardest parts of learning to tell time for young children. These clocks have quarter marks to show where to point for quarter after, half past and quarter till. Print these clocks onto cardstock and fasten clock hands with a brad fastener.

To help children remember that the minute hand is longer than the hour hand (which feels counterintuitive), explain that the word hour is shorter than the word minute. Have children write out each word on strips to see that minute has two more letters than hour.