Teaching Models


Identify Time of Day and Order Events

Over thousands of years, humans have developed different ways of keeping track of time, ways we have come to depend upon. It would be hard, for example, to imagine modern life without calendars and clocks.

Young children are just beginning to make sense of time concepts. They are refining their ideas of duration—how long events last—and units of time such as minutes, hours, days, weeks, and years. Discussion and examples can help children deal with time, something that cannot be seen though it is constantly experienced.

Children can start their study of time with something very familiar—night and day—and then move on to time periods within these: morning, afternoon, and evening. As the meanings of before, after, and today are established, children can begin thinking about and identifying days as yesterday and tomorrow. By helping children relate terms such as these to events they are familiar with, educators help them build new ideas and refine existing ones.

Tell Time to the Hour

Children must learn to compare time duration of events as longer, shorter, and about the same. Again, if educators help children build on their knowledge of familiar occurrences or tasks such as washing their hands and eating lunch, they can help children judge whether one event takes longer than another. Events in sequence also can be related to everyday occurrences: Children can identify events that happen before and after other events, and they learn to identify events that come first, second, and last on the daily classroom schedule.

Kindergarten children become acquainted with tools for telling time—analog clocks (those with hands) and digital clocks. Children use their knowledge of the numbers 1-12 to tell time to the hour and to match times shown on digital and analog clocks. Helping children relate times shown on clocks to everyday events is necessary for them to see the usefulness of clocks and other timekeeping devices.

Along with learning to tell time, children should develop concepts of minutes and hours. Once again, relating time to common classroom experiences, and how long familiar events take, helps children build on these concepts. For example, children may extend their understanding of how long a minute is by guessing how many times they can perform a given task in one minute. Classmates can count the number of times the task is performed as the teacher times volunteers who stack pennies, link snap cubes, or walk across the room and back.

Finally, children solve simple problems involving elapsed time. This process is facilitated by using model clocks to act out situations such as starting an event at 9 o'clock and finishing at 11 o'clock.

Teaching Model: Tell Time to the Hour

Houghton Mifflin Math Grade K