9 Steps to a First Grade Lesson Plan for Telling Time

Teaching Kids to Tell Time

Kids telling time
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For students, learning to tell time can be difficult. But you can teach students to tell time in hours and half-hours by following this step-by-step procedure.

Depending on when you teach math during the day, it would be helpful to have a digital clock sound an alarm when math class begins. If your math class begins on the hour or the half hour, even better!

Step-by-Step Procedure

  1. If you know your students are shaky on time concepts, it’s best to start this lesson with a discussion of morning, afternoon, and night. When do you get up? When do you brush your teeth? When do you get on the bus for school? When do we do our reading lessons? Have students put these into the appropriate categories of morning, afternoon, and night.
  2. Tell students that next we are going to get a little more specific. There are special times of day that we do things, and the clock shows us when. Show them the analog clock (the toy or the classroom clock) and the digital clock.
  3. Set the time on the analog clock for 3:00. First, draw their attention to the digital clock. The number(s) before the colon (:) describe the hours, and the numbers after : describe the minutes. So for 3:00, the time is exactly 3 o’clock and no extra minutes.
  4. Then draw their attention to the analog clock. Tell them that this clock can also show the time. The short hand shows the same thing as the number(s) before the : on the digital clock—the hours.
  5. Show them how the long hand on the analog clock moves faster than the short hand—it is moving by minutes. When it is at 0 minutes, it will be right up at the top, by the 12. This is a hard concept for kids to understand, so have students come up and make the long hand move quickly around the circle to reach the 12 and zero minutes several times.
  6. Have students stand up and use their arms as hands on a clock. Have them use one arm to show where the long clock hand will be when it is at zero minutes. Their hands should be straight up above their heads. Just like they did in Step 5, have them move this hand rapidly around an imaginary circle to represent what the minute hand does.
  7. Then have them imitate the 3:00 short hand. Using their unused arm, have them put this out to the side so that they are imitating the hands of the clock. Repeat with 6:00 (do the analog clock first) then 9:00, then 12:00. Both arms should be straight above their heads for 12:00.
  8. Change the digital clock to be 3:30. Show what this looks like on the analog clock. Have students use their bodies to imitate 3:30, then 6:30, then 9:30.
  9. For the remainder of the class period, or at the introduction of the next class period, ask for volunteers to come up to the front of the class and make a time with their bodies for other students to guess.


Have students go home and discuss with their parents the times (to the nearest hour and half hour) that they do at least three important things during the day. They should write these down on paper in the correct digital format. Parents should sign the paper indicating that they have had these discussions with their child.


Take anecdotal notes on students as they complete Step 9 of the lesson. Those students who are still struggling with the representation of hours and half hours can receive some extra practice with another student or with you.


Two class periods, each 30–45 minutes long.


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Your Citation
Jones, Alexis. "9 Steps to a First Grade Lesson Plan for Telling Time." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, thoughtco.com/steps-to-telling-time-lesson-plan-4082425. Jones, Alexis. (2021, December 6). 9 Steps to a First Grade Lesson Plan for Telling Time. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/steps-to-telling-time-lesson-plan-4082425 Jones, Alexis. "9 Steps to a First Grade Lesson Plan for Telling Time." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/steps-to-telling-time-lesson-plan-4082425 (accessed March 24, 2023).