Teaching Telling the Time – Introducing the Minute Hand

Now that the children are happy with the hour hand, and confident that they can tell the time more or less with just this hand, it’s time to introduce the minute hand. We compare the size to the hour hand and note that it is longer.

I explain that this one counts the minutes round the clock, and make sure they are happy that there are 60 minutes in an hour and 30 minutes in half an hour.

I show them a clock face that has the positions of the numbers marked on, but not the numbers themselves. We start at the top, and count to the bottom in fives, stopping at each mark as we go, to establish that 30 minutes is half way round. We repeat, this time writing o’clock at the top, and the numbers five to thirty in words on the clock. We put ‘fifteen’ and ‘thirty’ in brackets and write ‘quarter’ and ‘half’ underneath them.

We then return to the top of the clock and count in fives anti-clockwise, writing on the numbers as we go round. Again we put fifteen in brackets and write quarter underneath. We then look briefly at the symmetry of the clock face, with the fives opposite each other, tens opposite each other etc.

Finally we move the minute hand all the way round the clock, noting that to start with it is going past the o’clock, but that when it passes the bottom it starts getting closer to the o’clock. We compare this to the hour hand going past one hour and getting closer to the next one.

We practise showing different minutes on the clock: ten past and ten to, twenty past and twenty to, and so on.  I always keep the times in pairs, and always ask for the ‘past’ first to give children time to sort out in their own minds which side is ‘past’ and which is ‘to’. If necessary I will draw a line between o’clock and half past and label each side of the clock with past and to for a visual clue.

When the children are confident with the minute hand, move on to putting both hands together.

For maths and English tutoring in the north Birmingham, Sandwell and Walsall areas, visit www.sjbteaching.com. For links to other interesting education related articles, come and Like my Facebook page.

Related posts: Teaching the Times Tables, Teaching Number Bonds

Teaching Telling the Time – Introducing the Hour Hand

Telling the time is difficult. For starters there are two, sometimes three, hands and they have to remember which is which. Then, although there are only 12 numbers written on the clock face, they have different values: sometimes the 1 really is a 1, but sometimes it’s 5. As for the 3 – sometimes it’s 3, sometimes it’s 15, sometimes it’s only a quarter. And we haven’t even started on ‘to’ and ‘past’. It’s not surprising that children struggle with it.

Most children do manage to learn to tell the time without too much effort, but for some it remains a mystery, often until well after they have left primary school. This series of posts is aimed at those children who need additional help learning to tell the time.

When I teach telling the time, I start by stripping away everything that is non-essential, leaving me with a clock face and the short hand. I explain that this is called the hour hand because it counts the hours round the clock. It takes one hour to move from one number to the next, and this means that we can tell the time (more or less) with just this hand.

We move the hour hand around the clock face. When it points exactly at the 1 it is one o’ clock. When it points exactly at the 2 it is two o’clock and so on. When the child is happy with this, we stop the hour hand exactly half way between two numbers. We talk about the fact that because it takes one whole hour to move from the 1 to the 2, when it is exactly half way between the 1 and the 2 it is half past one. Exactly half way between the 2 and the 3 is half past two, and so on. To check understanding I will get the child to show me four o’clock, half past seven, etc still using just the hour hand.

After this we look at where the hour hand will be at quarter past an hour – ie exactly half way between the hour and half past, or a quarter of the way from one hour to the next.

Once they are happy with this, I get them to move the hour hand slowly from one number to the next so that they can see that to begin with the hand moves past the first hour, but after the halfway point it is moving closer to the next hour. This deals with that tricky concept of ‘past’ and ‘to’ that confuses so many children, without the distraction of the minute hand. We look at where the hour hand is at quarter to an hour.

Now the children can tell the time correctly to within fifteen minutes (o’clock, between o’ clock and quarter past, quarter past, between quarter past and half past etc) without needing to look at the minute hand at all. This then gives them lots of confidence to move on. When they are ready, you can introduce the minute hand.

For maths and English tutoring in the north Birmingham, Sandwell and Walsall areas, visit www.sjbteaching.com. For links to other interesting education related articles, come and Like my Facebook page.

Related posts: Teaching the Times Tables and Teaching Number Bonds

Addition 17-08-16
I’ve just found this blog post which explains the concept of looking at just the hour hand in a different way. I like their idea of rooms! Teaching telling the time