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MEASUREMENT – TIME – Telling the time using an analog clock

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Telling time is an important part of primary mathematics. But teaching these concepts should be part of your daily routines, not a separate topic to teach every now and then for a week or two in the year. Our suggested weekly timetables reinforce this idea.

It is the angle of the hands moving around that lets your brain see what time is represented on an analog clock. The crazy thing is that you don’t even need to show the numbers, just the hands and small regular marks on the circumference. The continuous movement of the hands in a circle shows time passing. To be honest you can tell the time even without these circumference marks. You could just have a blank circle and the hour, minute and second hands. We don’t need our students to draw the angle of the hands in a worksheet or class test. Even real-life watchmakers and clock technicians don’t have this skill. The mechanics of how the hands interact is all done by a machine, a wristwatch, a mantel clock or a large clock in a shopping centre. What we need to develop are the skills of reading information into the position of the hands, being able to tell the time. Clock time is a complex interplay of hours, minutes and seconds.

To help your students better understand the position of the hands, we highly recommend you use our Numberless clocks activity as a regular mental warm up. We also have small versions of this activity for small group use.

Remember also to check out our Time Photographs and Time Graphics.