Math Background

Schedules and Elapsed Time: Overview

Children in second grade need to work on many time concepts. At this level you will work with children to help them develop concepts for several intervals of time. It is important to provide them with many experiences to help them get a feel for each interval. To develop the concept of a minute, allow your children to participate in activities that last a minute—for example, hopping on one foot, jogging in place, or standing on one foot. Then introduce the second. Children will be taught that there are 60 seconds in a minute. Children also need to understand the concept of an hour. You can help them do this by ringing a bell or a timer at hour intervals throughout several days.

clock displaying 4:00

After children have a feel for different intervals of time, they are ready to review reading and writing time to the hour. Remind them that it takes 60 minutes, or 1 hour, for the minute hand to move all the way around the clock and for the hour hand to move to the next number. The minute hand always points to 12 when showing the hour. Since time to the hour was taught in first grade, it will not be long before children can move on to reading and writing time to half-hour, quarter-hour, and five-minute intervals. Teaching time to the half-hour is best achieved by showing it on a clock model. By using a clock model, you can show children how the clock hands move as one half-hour passes. When you show the minute hand on the 6, be sure that the hour hand is halfway between one hour and the next. Draw a clock face on the chalkboard, shading one-half to help children visualize one-half hour. You may wish to see Finding Time Intervals.

clock displaying 9:30 in 15 minute intervals

You will be introducing time to the quarter-hour. Again use a clock model to show children how the hands move for a quarter hour. On the chalkboard, draw a clock face, shading a quarter hour. Watch for children who confuse the meaning of the word quarter. Some children might think that a quarter-hour has 25 minutes, by relating one quarter to 25 cents. Shading each one-fourth hour of the clock face in a different color will help children visualize 15-minute intervals and will clear up any confusion between a quarter hour and 25 cents.

clock broken down to 15 minute and 5 minute intervals

Children will learn to tell time in five-minute intervals. Emphasize that it takes 5 minutes for the minute hand to move from one number to the next on a clock, so counting by 5s is an easy way to see how many minutes have passed.

Your children will need opportunities to practice reading and writing times to hour, half-hour, quarter-hour, and five-minute intervals. Look for opportunities throughout the day for children to use the classroom clock to read the time aloud. Have children tell the positions of the hour and minute hands and then read the time. Have volunteers write the time on the board.

Second graders are also ready to learn the meaning of A.M. and P.M. You will need to teach them what each means, and provide opportunities to practice using them at appropriate times. Explain that A.M. denotes times between 12 midnight and 12 noon, and P.M. denotes times between 12 noon and midnight. You can help them to remember that A.M. comes before P.M., because A comes before P.

Children were introduced to elapsed time in first grade, so the concept should not be completely new to them. In second grade, they need to practice finding how much time has passed between activities. They should be able to identify the start and end times of activities and determine how long an activity lasted. You will also need to provide children with schedules and clocks and allow them to use the clocks to read and interpret schedules. Allow children to use clocks to work through elapsed-time problems with schedules that you provide.

Work with the calendar has been ongoing throughout the year. You can develop calendar concepts further by using the calendar to answer questions such as, How many Fridays are in this month? What is the date of the third Tuesday in June? Children can begin to use a calendar to compare intervals of time, such as 13 days and 2 weeks. They can learn to find the day that is 6 days from today or find how many days from today until the 27th.


Houghton Mifflin Math Grade 2