Teaching: Telling the time

Children need to know and recognise all the numbers from 1 to 12


Introduce a number line which contains the numerals one to twelve. Bend the number line into a circle to resemble a clock face. Provide a worksheet with a large circle. These are the hours in each day.


Help children put the numbers on the sheet as above


Now put the hands on the clock. Make 1 o’clock.

Now introduce the small hand in red which points to the hour and the minute or long hand in blue. Make the hands read o’clock.


Use the images above to introduce all the o’clock times. Read and talk about what happens at these times e.g. school starts at 9.00 o’clock, home time is 3 o’clock, bedtime is 7 o’clock etc

Play ‘What time is it Mr Wolf’ with children.

It is now time to introduce half past the hour.

If the little hand at 12 o’clock tells us it is ‘o’clock then the big hand at the number six tells us it is half past the hour.

Make the hands read half past the hour.


Let children try this worksheet to reinforce learning.


Draw the same time on the clock as you see on the watch to which it is linked.

It is now time to introduce a quarter to the hour.

To read a quarter to the hour the big hand must point to the number 9

Make the hands read quarter to the hour. This can be written in 2 ways

Quarter to the coming hour or 45 minutes after the previous hour.

e.g. 45 minutes after 2 o’clock or a quarter to 3 o’clock


Use these images to reinforce all the three quarter hour times.  

It is now time to introduce a quarter past the hour.

To read a quarter past the hour the big hand must point to the number 3

Make the hands read quarter past the hour. This can be written in 2 ways

e.g.      15 minutes after 2 o’clock or a quarter past 2 o’clock


Use these images to reinforce all the quarter hour times.  

Remember when the big hand is at 6 it is half past

When the big hand is at 3 it is quarter past.           


30 Minutes or Half-Past                      


15 Minutes or Quarter-Past

Using both the Big Hand and Little Hand lets us know exactly what time it is:           


2:30 or Half-Past Two                  


5:15 or Quarter-Past Five


 Write the correct time in the boxes.

Now to introduce the rest of the time practice counting in 5s

5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60.


Print out this clock and pin a big hand and a minute hand on the face. Hang it up so that children can reach it and practice arranging the hands to various times eg:

School starts at 8:45                            Lunch is at 12:25

Playtime is at 10:15                              Afternoon school is at 1.20

We leave the playground at 10:25          Mum arrives at school at 3:10

At what time do you get up, does school start, do you eat lunch, do you play in playground?.

girl clock
books clock
boy clock
children clock

Encourage children to match their blank clock to the clocks below;

clock clock clock clock

Some clocks display the time in a digital form. 


The clock underneath displays the time in digital form


The digital clock uses the 24 hour clock like the famous one below.


Platform clock at King's Cross railway
If you look there are two times for the hours. It could be 1o’clcok or 13.00 hours, 2.00 o’clock or 14.00 hours etc.

Now look at the two worksheets below and see if you can match the correct times


This second worksheet shows the time with hands and the digital time display


 Time Worksheets

We have shown below a small selection of our time worksheets. There are many more on the Time Worksheets page.

Time worksheet 1
Real life problems-a bus timetable
Time game
Time questions for KS2
12 and 24 hours timetables

Books and Games to help with telling the time                                                                                         

Wipe Clean Telling the Time (Usborne Wipe Clean Books) by Jessica Greenwell

When learning to tell the time, repetition is invaluable, so this wipe clean book (with pen included) is perfect for early learning of this vital skill. Knowing that mistakes can be wiped away increases children's confidence as they are willing to 'have a go'. Friendly little monsters introduce children to the hour, half hour and quarter hour on both digital and analogue clocks. The activities are fun and engaging with plenty of storylines which put the time into context with activities throughout the day. Varied, colourful and inviting - a super book.

Fun With Time (eyePad) from Scribblers Books 

A clever idea this, to create a series of books using the well-known iPad format - children will love it! Ideal for pre-schoolers, it introduces the concept of time in an easily understandable way. Usefully, it is not just about telling the time, but time in a wider sense - days, months and seasons are all included, making this more comprehensive than many books. There are plenty of simple fun exercises to help learning - and gold stars to reward progress. There are clocks to complete, letters to write over and questions to answer. Attractive pictures and the novel format will encourage learning, and parents are guided by the helpful notes.

Teaching Clock from Dillons Toybox

This sturdy wooden teaching clock is an attractive way to teach the concept of time. Recommended for 3+, I would like to see it in a younger child's room so they become familiar with the clock. There is a brightly coloured wooden circle for each 5 minute segment, with a clear numeral and the number in words. Under each are the words eg quarter past to help with those concepts - this is useful as children can find these challenging. An additional use is for colour, size (the circles are different sizes) and number recognition. This is a good value product - durable and well made, with  a really satisfying feel and lots of play options. 


What's the Time, Mr Wolf from Child's Play, illustrated by Annie Kubler 

The fearsome looking wolf finger puppet adds a whole new dimension to the concept of learning to tell the time. Act out the story of the wolf who is always hungry, whatever the time of day and your child will  be enthralled. As children grow up, they will be able to act out the story for you with the aid of the puppet, who cleverly pops up on every page.  The story is broken down into key events of the day, helping children to understand   the concept of time. Each page includes a digital and an analogue clock- another useful teaching feature. The amusing and colourful illustrations give more opportunities for discussion, Buy it here -  http://www.childs-play.com/bookshop/9780859539449.html



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