Practise telling the time

playing beat the clock telling the time

I didn’t intend to blog this activity. Otherwise I might have spent time crafting the perfect cards to go with it. Ones that made sense in the photos and helped to explain the game. In fact, it was only when one of the children declared that they…

wish they taught telling the time this way at school

….that I even thought to share it in this space. Maybe others might find it useful. So please bear with me.

Telling the time game

This game is based on the old classic “Beat the Clock”. It gives the player a chance to practise digital and analogue time telling. This is an intermediary game, so not suitable for telling-the-time total newcomers.

 * You need an old pack of playing cards (or redundant times table cards), stickers and marker pens.

* Choose an hour. I focused on 4 o’clock for the game, as it is just a happy time of the day, I find, but you can choose any time. Just as long as you are consistent. The important part of this game is to practise the “past” and “to” for the chosen hour.

telling time cards

Basic premise is that they are matching the analogue and digital time for all 12 points on the clock, eg twenty past 4 is the same as 4:20.

Prepare the cards

1. For each of the 12 points on the clock (ie 1 to 12), use four cards. Use stickers to cover up the existing value of the card. Mark the cards as follows:

* write the time in words eg quarter past four

* write the time in digital format eg 4:15

* draw the clock face and mark in the long and short hand eg see above photo

* write the time in 24 hour clock format eg 16:15

2. Repeat for all 12 sets of four cards.

3. Shuffle

playing beat the clock telling the time

4. Starting at the 12 position, put one card on the table, face down, at each position, to form a clock. (marker pen clock hands are optional).

5. Repeat until all 12 positions have four cards.

Playing telling time game

Start the game.

1. Pick up the top card at position 12.

2. Look at the time on the card and put it on top of the pile that the long hand would be pointing to (eg 4:35 on card would go to position 7 on the clock) and take the bottom card from that pile.

3. Repeat step 2 until you can’t go anymore.

4. If all the cards are turned over, you have won.

5.If they are not, then give yourself a life(!) and pick the bottom card from another pile and repeat step 2.

This is a very simple game, but surprisingly effective. I tested it on my 10 and 7 year olds, with good results.

Foot note: We did try it as a memory game too, but too many cards, so I might try again with only 2 card per clock position.

Disclaimer: I have no idea if this game exists commercially. I haven’t found it, but I devised this version as a way for my children to practise analogue and digital time telling.

I also have a few learning times tables ideas too

Linking up to Tuesday Tutorials Pin Party

8 thoughts on “Practise telling the time

  • Tuesday 10 March, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Brilliant! Thank you for sharing. I am sure that this will be played some time in the future.

    • Tuesday 10 March, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      Thank you. I’m glad you like it. Works particularly well for tactile learners.

  • Tuesday 10 March, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    I could hug you right now Cheryl!!!!

    My daughter is learning to tell the time at school and she is really struggling. She has mastered time telling in English, but it is different in German, and she can’t seem to grasp this (it is hard – I struggled for years myself).

    This game is exactly what we need – I am off to make it so we can play when she gets in from school.
    I might also share it with her teacher, who called me in today to discuss time learning strategies.
    Brilliant. 😀

    • Wednesday 11 March, 2015 at 10:58 am

      You’ve made my day. Thank you. 🙂 I hope it helps. Great believer in learning through play. Eldest is learning German and she says its tricky too.

  • Tuesday 10 March, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    Love this idea. Definitely one for me to try with N on just the basic o’clock to start with

  • Saturday 14 March, 2015 at 12:43 am

    This is absolutely genius! I’m a primary school teacher and time is one of those tricky things for children to understand. I will definitely be using this in the classroom, thank you.

    Thanks for linking up to Tuesday Tutorials.

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