Learning to tell time can be difficult for children who see more digital clocks than analog ones. Fortunately, many tools exist, from educational toys to printable clock faces, that can help you teach children how to read a clock. With these tools, your children will learn how to read a clock face in no time.
Popular Clock Faces for Children
For between $5 and $40, there are several good learning resources on the market.
Melissa & Doug
The award-winning Melissa and Doug Wooden Shape Sorting Clock clock face is a clock and puzzle all in one. Because each number on the clock is a different shape and only fits in its correct spot, the clock helps kids learn where the numbers on a clock face go. The hour and minute hands are labeled accordingly, and the face has an inner circle that provides the minutes of an hour to help kids learn to tell time to the minute. This winning combination retails for less than $15. Reviewers note that it is a terrific way to give your children hands-on experience with learning about the clock, and kids are able to pick up the idea of associating the numbers on the clock with five-minute increments (ie when the minute hand is at one, it is five minutes past the hour, etc.).
Learning Journey Teaching Clock
Telly the Teaching Time Clock has a clock face with an integrated digital time display and is designed to teach children, in a playful manner, to tell time. The clock helps children associate digital with analog time and has both the labels for the hours, and the label for minutes in five-minute increments. According to reviews, the clock is ideal for helping kids associate digital time with analog time. However, if your child hasn't learned the basic concepts of time, this clock is probably a bit too advanced. It retails for around $30.
Talking Clever Clock
Another electronic clock face with a digital display, the Talking Clever Clock is pricier than the previous electronic clock face, but got a rave review from the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Awards. Oppenheim had a child test this toy, and after watching his reaction, gave it their first prize in 2003. The toy features analog and digital clock faces, and teaches kids how to tell time by stating the time once the child has set the hands of the clock. Parent reviews mention that learning how the clock works can be difficult because the toy has so many buttons, but the included workbook and the two different skill levels from which to choose are redeeming factors for parents and children alike. The clock retails for less than $40.
12-Hour Demonstration Clock
Learning Resources' Big Time 12-Hour Demonstration Clock is an ideal way for parents to teach or review the concept of time with their children. A few top features of this clock are the attractive colors, the large size of the product, and the fact that all sixty minutes are indicated (with dashes) on the clock face. Children can count to learn how long a minute and an hour are, and this clock makes the learning more concrete. One thing that makes this clock an ideal teaching tool is that parents can also buy child-sized clocks separately. Learning Resources offers a smaller dry-erase version of the clock, or a smaller version of the same clock. Parents can call out a time, have their child show the correct time on their clock, and then look at the parent's demonstration clock to see if their answer matches.
The parent-sized clock is around $20, and child-sized versions retail for less than $20.
Printable Clock Face For Telling Time
A quick and free option is to print a clock face and either draw in pencil on it, or laminate it and then use dry erase markers with it. Attach the minute and hour hands with brads. You can start by putting the hands in different positions yourself, and later move on to asking your child to draw the hands in. For best results, keep the clock face nearby (a magnet on the fridge works nicely), and use it several times throughout the day for one or two questions. A great way to structure activities in the home is to draw the hands at the point they will be when kids need to move on to the next routine of the day. When the hands on the real clock match the hands on the printed clock face, the children know that it's time to stop watching TV or time to clean up.
If you need help downloading the printable, check out these helpful tips.
Tips for Teaching the Time to Children
Teaching time is a fundamental skill for children to learn, and yet sometimes it takes time before kids fully master the concepts.
- Work on counting to sixty consistently, as well as counting by fives.
- Start by teaching whole hours. Once your child has mastered that, move onto half-hours, showing that the reason it is a 'half-hour', is because the minute hand moves halfway around the clock. After this, teach quarter hours and then minutes.
- Keep your expressions uniform by always saying the time as it is read - "5:15" or "12:30" - instead of varying between "5:15" and "quarter past five" or 'half past twelve."
- Alternate between pointing out the time on the real clock, manipulating the time hands on a clock face, and asking your child to manipulate the hands or to tell you what time it is. In this way, you integrate modeling and hands-on practice.
- Work on actively associating digital time with analog time. For example, if you ask your child to set his clock hands to a specific time, ask him what that time would look like on a digital clock.
Telling Time and Managing Time
As your children become more adept at telling time and counting, you can use the clock to manage your household activities. Delegate time management to a child (for example "can you let Mommy know when it's 3:15, please? It's very important because then we have to leave to pick Johnny up at school.") These kinds of activities promote confidence. If your child develops an appreciation for time and clocks, you might even introduce the concept of daylight savings time and changing the clocks, or the fact that across the world, it's not the same time everywhere. Telling time has many educational extensions, making it not only a practical skill, but also an intellectual one for developing minds.