5 Aug '13

News How to teach … telling the time

Telling the time can be confusing when you're just starting, but the Guardian Teacher Network has resources to help

There are many opportunities for confusion when teaching your students or children how to tell the time and do other time-related work, so the Guardian Teacher Network has pulled together some resources that should help.

As the summer holidays have started, let's start with a bit of light relief. Required viewing for all teachers and parents wanting to help children learn how to tell the time is Dave Allen's timeless comedy sketch on teaching your kid time – guaranteed to brighten your day as well as reminding adults why this pursuit is genuinely confounding. The sketch includes the immortal lines: "One is five, two is ten, six is half – because 12 is the whole". It is really no wonder learning how to tell the time on an analogue clock face can fox even the brightest children.

A useful skill for children to get under their belt in order to tell the time is knowing the five times tables. Without it, anything beyond the o'clocks becomes almost unobtainable. Maths teacher Dorian Kelly has provided a catchy hip hop five times tables song in audio, and there is a video version. For revision, find this ready-to-print five times table settler activity, which uses a clever system that means no marking is needed.

What's the time asks pupils to write the time shown on clock faces, great practice for the basics – all the times are either on the hour, half-past the hour, a quarter-past the hour or a quarter to the hour. More basic telling-the-time practice here.

Here's a nice resource on drawing the time and one on reading clocks – in which pupils must first look at the digital times and then draw the analogue time on the clock faces. Then they look at the times and give the digital time and add on 10 minutes to the digital times.

Once the basics are mastered, it is time for a game of o'clock time bingo, a fun way to reinforce time teaching that is great for whole-class teaching or a nice game at home over the summer for parents and children. The next stage is half past and o'clock bingo and, for the really advanced, go for mixed time bingo.

This useful set of time word cards displays analogue clocks and corresponding vocabulary for every 10 minutes of the hour. These could be displayed around a large image of a clock. Time connectives on a clock is a handy set of display posters featuring key time connectives.

Time isn't something that is explicitly taught for most groups at secondary school, as it is in earlier key stages, but as maths teacher Mel Muldowney (the maths teacher behind www.Justmaths.co.uk) points out: "Without fail there will always be at least one student who, when working with time, will work in multiples of 100. For example, they do their calculations based on 100 seconds in a minute or 100 minutes in an hour and, once reminded, will wonder why they've done it."

Thanks to Mel Muldowney for sharing using multiples in time, which is based on a recent exam paper and particularly good for making sure students don't fall into that 100 minutes per hour or 100 seconds per minute trap. The lesson includes a student reflection section.

With the move to more functional-style maths, it is also worthwhile practising some contextual style problems with time. Thanks to Mel Muldowney for sharing this Mission Impossible themed worksheet, which involves working out the time our secret agent is expected to return from his assignment in Greece, including flight times and time differences.

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