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Exploring Time in Kindergarten

Becoming aware of the passing of time and the duration of an activity and how it applies to your children’s real-life situations is the beginning of understanding how to tell time.

This Telling Time lesson, together with its activities and worksheets will help your children to grasp the concept. It explores how long particular activities take and compares the duration of two activities in a variety of ways.

The emphasizes will be placed on exposure to the concepts of time and duration in a natural way.

The lessons are simple and are interrelated and support one another to increase the development of your children’s mathematical understanding of time in the concrete sense as well as the abstract.

Warm Up

There are three activities below for you to work through with your children. The first is a song!

 “We are going to sing Hickory, Dickory, Dock .”

Sing Out Loud! Click here to open the nursery rhyme “Hickory, Dickory Dock!”

 “In five minutes, we will be meeting at our desk to work on your math.”

The Finger Raise

Show your children the clock and discuss the hour hand which is the short hand, the minute hand, the long hand and the second hand, the skinny, red hand.

Tell your children you are going to play a game called the Finger Raise.

Game Rules Finger Raise

Say Do
“Every ten seconds I will ring the bell. You raise your hand when you think 10 seconds has passed.”  
  Show your children the second hand as you do a practice run together of counting ten seconds and raising your finger and, ring the bell. This will set them up for success.
“We will play the game seven times. I will ring the bell seven different times while ten seconds passes each time. You raise your finger quickly up and down when you think 10 seconds has passed each time. When my turn is over you will have a turn to ring the bell.“Now, sit with your back to me. Ready, steady, go.”  
  Count to yourself, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten) ring the bell. (finger raises up and down, all going to plan) Keep counting, consecutively for seven turns. Again. (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten) ring the bell. (fingers reaching for the sky) And so on until you have wrung the bell seven times.

Switch places. Play this game often and use different intervals of time to bring greater understanding. Discuss with your children all the different times that they can play this game with. Observe how your children develop their sense of the time you. The more you play this game the quicker your children’s awareness of intervals of time will develop.

Measuring and Comparing Duration of Time

Gather the materials below that you will use in this lesson with your children.

  1. A sheet of paper 4 feet long x 1 foot wide, (or tape several sheets together)
  2. An analog clock
  3. Pencil, eraser, co lour pencils or crayons
  4. Scissors
  5. Kitchen timer
  6. Metronome or pendulum
  7. Minutes glass sand timer, (some game boards have them)
  8. Measuring Tape
  9. A bell or some method of making a sound
  10. Card paper
  11. Glue stick or white glue

“We will be working for 10* minutes today. I will show you how to set the kitchen/egg timer so that we will concentrate on our work for that length of time”

* Be aware of the level of interest in your children and adjust the time accordingly. If you decide to cut the time short, explain to your children that you have spent enough time on this work for now and end the lesson.

Follow the 3 steps to help your children develop an understanding of time further.

Step 1; Develop an awareness of duration of time.

  1. Hold On! You and your children sit on a chair and hold out your legs. Who held their legs out longer/shorter? Or, stand on one foot or hold out your arms. Have fun making up new ways to measure time informally. Encourage your children’s suggestions and put them into motion.
  2. Toy car run for fun! Place two toy cars at different heights on a slide. Release. Which took longer/shorter time to get down?
  3. Button Zipper comparison Get two articles of clothing, one with a zipper and one with buttons. Starting at the same time, do up the clothing. Which was faster to do up? Which was slower?
  4. Ice Cube Melt Place two ice cubes on a plate. They may be very close in time. Discuss why. Change the activity. Place one ice cube in the sun. Which melted faster? Place one ice cube in the fridge or on the heater. Be creative

Doing these activities gives children a wide range of experiences in time measurement. As children develop and grow, comparing a variety of real situations builds a strong foundation for helping them to apply the concrete, real world to the abstract mathematical use of numbers.

Step 2; All in Good Time ~ You and your children are going to make paper analog clocks to represent important times throughout your children’s day.

  1. Discuss significant events that are throughout your children’s day. Examples; Getting out of bed. Eating breakfast. Leaving for school. School begins. Lunch time. Recess time. Home time. Dinner time. Lessons, (piano, swimming). Bed time. Pick four or five events. Any more than that may be overwhelming.
  2. Show your children the times you have decided on together on the analog clock.
  3. Write the times down in analog and digital time.
  4. Click here to get a blank clock face and print off as many as you need. Cut them out.
  5. Have your children trace over top of the numbers that are around the clock and discuss the hours.

Parent Note; This is an informal discussion about time. Answer any questions that do arise, but do be careful not to overwhelm your children by giving them too much information. Keep it simple.

  1. Set the analog clock to the first time you have agreed on. Example; Get out of bed, 7:00.
  2. Glue the hands on the paper clock to represent 7:00. Write on a separate card the title; Get out of bed or Get up. You make the title to fit your conversation and write the digital time on the separate card as well.
  3. Continue to make all the times. You should make at least four clocks to represent events throughout your children’s day.
  4. Hang these clocks in a prominent place. Example; in the kitchen or your children’s bedroom wall. Refer to them often. They may even help your children become more independent and efficient with their time.
  5. You may want to add or take down clocks throughout the year as schedules change.

Step 3; Height measurement ~ Attach a long piece of paper to the wall to measure your children’s height throughout the years.

  1. Hang a strip of paper 1′ wide x 5′ long on a wall where it can remain for awhile. (If you move you can take it down and hang it in your new home.)
  2. Ask your children to stand with their back to the paper, shoes off and heals touching the wall so that their height may be measured. Recording changes over a long period of time helps to build an understanding of the passage of longer stretches of time and changes that take place over these periods of time.
  3. Using a right angle such as a book, place one straight edge along their head and the other perpendicular to the wall.
  4. Mark the line at which your children’s head meets with a pen. Write their height and the date.
  5. Measure your children’s height approximately every three to five months.

Closure and Evaluation:

Kindergarten introduces the concept of time in the broad, general sense. Formal measurement of time may not be addressed in the curriculum, but you may talk about duration of time relative to your children’s life. Assessing the duration of an activity or comparing two different times, sets the foundation for keeping time. Answer their questions as they come up naturally. Keep it simple , fun and informal.

Kindergarten Time Worksheets

You will find many more telling time worksheets here and you might also find these tips for helping your children with time helpful too.

Another fun activity related to time is the game, What Time is it Mr. Wolf? If you can get some children together then view these instructions on how to play What Time is it Mr. Wolf?

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