Filling the Time

Goal: Predict what you can get done in 10 or 20 minutes, then try it and see

step 1

Make Predictions

talk aboutWe have 20 minutes before outdoor time. What can you get done in 20 minutes?


Children record their predictions.

predictions chart

step 1

Fill the time

Stop partway through the time period and ask if anyone wants to revise predictions.

talk aboutTen minutes have passed, and we’ve gotten through the dance once. Does anyone want to change predictions?

2 dancers
step 1

Compare predictions and results

When the time is up, children report what they accomplished.


Five-minute clean up (easier). Ask the group to predict if they can do several activities in 5 minutes, then try it and see: In the next 5 minutes, can we clean up, wash our hands, and sing Happy Birthday twice?

Double time (harder). Ask children: “If you double the time, do you double what you can accomplish?” Then they try it.


Math Spotlight

Time sense for 10, 20, or more minutes

Throughout the day, children follow schedules that adults set: 15 minutes for snack; 30 minutes for gym; 40 minutes for math.

This activity gives children a chance to develop meaning for blocks of time by learning how long different activities take. Children gain a foundation for making realistic plans.


Everyday Connectionskid make flower chain

Setting realistic daily schedules

Setting schedules is a challenge for many people. Success at school and at work relies on knowing how long things take. What can you really accomplish in one Saturday afternoon of housework or in an hour set aside for homework?

Many children and teens juggle multiple after-school and weekend activities: homework, sports, clubs, household chores, social life, and part-time jobs. They need a solid sense of how long things take. Otherwise, they may find themselves overscheduled and overwhelmed, without enough time to get everything done.

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  • 2-6+

Minimum number of participants

  • 1

Suggested grouping

  • individual


  • 10-20 minutes


  • developing time sense for 10, 20, or more minutes


  • a clock or watch that displays minutes
  • scrap paper and pencil


  • some familiarity with time

Books about time

  • The Story of Clocks and Calendars. Maestro, Betsy. (HarperTrophy, 2004).
  • On Time: Fron Seasons to Split Seconds. Skurzynski, Gloria. (National Geographic Society, 2000).