Check the Clock

Goal: Keep track of time by watching the clock

step 1 What’s next? When?

Look for opportunities to ask children to figure out when the next activity begins.

talk aboutIt’s about 4:25. We’ll have snack in 20 minutes. What time will that be?

Make sure that children know:

  • What time it is now (round to the nearest 5 minutes).
  • How long until the next activity begins.
kid with salad
step 1

Figure out the starting time

Ask children to hold their answers until everyone has a solution.

If needed, help them count up 5 minutes at a time.

talk aboutWhat time will it be in 5 minutes? What will that look like on my watch? And then we’ll have 15 minutes left. What’s 15 minutes after 4:30?

analog clock at 4:25


Sticking with choices (easier). Ask children to stick with an activity for 10 minutes. They check the clock to figure out when they may move on to something else.

24-hour time (harder). Have children use 24-hour time in the afternoon. The hour after 12 noon is 13:00, instead of 1:00 p.m.; the next is 14:00, instead of 2:00 p.m.; and so on.


Math Spotlight

Adding with time—5 minutes at a time

Multiples of 5 minutes are a practical way to work with time. Many analog clocks are numbered for each 5-minute interval.

Help children understand the difference between counting by 5’s with time and with numbers.analog clock at 4:55

It’s 3:55 in the afternoon, so …

  • in 5 minutes it will be 4:00.
  • in 60 minutes, it will be 4:55.

By contrast, with numbers:

  • 355 + 5 = 360
  • 355 + 60 = 415


Everyday Connections

Time management

How much longer? When can we leave? Do we have enough time to stop and get something to eat?

Life is full of time questions. Help children develop the skills they need to find their own answers: telling time, knowing long things take, and breaking the hour into manageable chunks such as 5, 15, or 30 minutes.

Time management also involves knowing when to be early or late. Arriving early for a concert may ensure that you get a good seat. Arriving too early at a bus stop at night could be dangerous.

back to activity list


  • 2-6+

Minimum number of participants

  • 1

Suggested grouping

  • any


  • 10 minutes or less


  • adding with time—5 minutes at a time


  • a clock or watch that displays minutes


  • some familiarity with time

Books about time

  • Are We There Yet, Daddy? Walters, Virginia. (Puffin, 2002).
  • Tools of Timekeeping: A Kid’s Guide to the History and Science of Telling Time. Formichelli, Linda. (Nomad, 2005).