Want to teach your kids how to tell the time?
Usually by 5 or so, they're already begging me to start teaching them. Here is a detailed plan you can use to help your child learn how to tell time:
1) Before you begin teaching your child to tell time, make sure they know their numbers up to 12. You can teach a child as young as 4 as numbers, so there's no need to wait until kindergarten to teach your child how to tell time.
2) Next, explain to your child that the clock has a long hand and a short hand. Point out that the long hand is called a long hand because it is longer than the short hand. Point out the same thing with the short hand.
Spend a day or so asking them to show you the long hand or the short hand on an actual clock. The easiest way to do this is to make sure you have an analog clock up in a prominent place. Then, every time you pass the clock, have your child tell point to one of the hands.
3) After they can consistently show you where the long and short hands are, you can start teaching them the hour. Explain to your child that when the short hand points to a number, we know what the hour is. Then show them the long hand pointing to the 12, and explain that means "o clock." Your child can make his own clock with a paper plate, hands cut out from cardboard, and a paper fastener. Show them how a real clock looks, and have them copy the numbers on the paper plate.
Now when you pass by a clock, you will ask your child to tell you which number the short hand faces. You should also refer to the time when you talk about what you will do that day.
For example, you can say, "We'll go to the park at 3:00." Then when 3:00 comes, ask them to look at the clock and tell you what time it is. If they have trouble, help them out, and then say, "Oh, now that we know the time we can go out to the park." They'll be eager to check the time, because they'll feel it's the clock that tells them when it's time to do their favorite activity.
4) Now you'll start teaching your child to tell the half-hour. First, your child needs to understand what all of those "half" and "quarters" are that we throw around so casually actually mean. In order to help your child conceptualize this, cut out a large circle from cardboard. Make sure that it's the same size as your teaching clock (the clock you are working with to teach your child to tell the time. It needn't be a real clock).
Cut the circle in half. Next, write on two small cards (about the size of a mailing label) 1/2. Put both halves together, and say to your child, "This is a whole circle."
Next, separate the circle into halves. Take one label, put it on one half, and say, "This is a half. " Do the same with the second half. Then take off the labels, put the halves together, and have your child copy you.
Wait a few hours before you go on to the next step, letting your child label the half circles. When your child gets this consistently, you're ready to connect this to the clock.
5) Take one of the half pieces, and place it on the clock. Point out how now you can only see half of the clock. Show them the six, and explain that when the long hand points to the six, it means "half-past." Then let them practice putting the practice clock at various numbers, and telling you the time.
6) Download the free worksheet for blank clock faces. Make one worksheet with the times filled in. Underneath each clock, write the time shown. Make a copy of this page, and cut the labels off of this second page. That will leave you one page with the answers, and one page that they can practice matching the labels to the clock faces.
7) You will continue to call their attention to the time on the wall clock throughout the day, this time focusing on the half-hour.
8) After your child is able to tell time on the half hour 100% of the time, she can move on the quarter of an hour. Make another circle from cardboard, the same size as your teaching clock. Cut it into fourths, and make separate labels which say, "1/4."
9) Show your child how to use the material, and let them continue to practice as they did with the half-hour material.
10) Spend the next few days reviewing with the wall clock as you did before.
11) Place the quarter circle on the clock, so that the numbers 1-3 are covered. Tell your child, “This is one quarter. When the long hand points to the 3, then we know it is quarter after. “
Move the short hand to 12. Explain that now the clock reads a quarter after …” Point to the 12, and let your child fill in the blank. Move the short hand to the next number, and say, “Now the clock reads a quarter after …” and again let your child fill in the blank. Continue this way through all of the numbers.
12. Your child is now ready to learn “quarter ‘till.” Place the quarter of the circle again on the teaching clock, so that the numbers 9-12 are covered. Then tell your child, “This is also a quarter of the clock. It’s called quarter to.
Then move the short and long hands so they point to each number (as you did earlier), letting your child help you tell the time.
As before, print out new blank clock circles, fill them out, and make a copy. Cut the labels off of one page, and they can use the other to check their work.
13. Now your child simply needs to become proficient. Let your child practice over the next week or two all of the various worksheets.