Telling Time: Poem, Activities, and Stories

Clock Timeclock.face
by C.K. Emanuel

Need a little help telling the time?
Stare at the clock, face to face;
Follow the hands on the 12 hour climb.

Tallest to the back, wait in line!
First, the small hand speaks its number-
For it’s the hour hand’s turn to shine.

What you see is what you get;
In the case of the in-between,
The number just passed is a better fit.

Now for the big hand, you got it right!
It’s time to count the minutes past.
The minute hand is no cause for fright.

See the numbers on the clock,
Multiply them by the number 5,
Or, count by fives, let them rock!

At twelve, the hour begins,
Twelve becomes zero-zero
And everybody wins!

In the case of the in-between,
Add a one for each dot past.
Now the time is clearly seen.

Post includes: storyleads and an app

Age of Participants: K-3rd Grade; Has been included on a take-home hand out for the 4-5 year olds, mostly as a reminder for parents to start talking about time.

Skills Utilized/Reinforced: Telling Time, Counting, Addition, Multiplication Concept, STEAM, STEM

Possible Modifications: This has been used on a few times on my storytime handout throughout the past few years. Typically, I have the poem listed, show an image of a clock, label the second hand times, show an example, then have four clocks for the kids to try and match up the time.

The first time I led this activity during storytime, I had a clock with moveable hands. The second time I used an ipad, connected to a projector, and the app, Interactive Telling Time Lite (which is free). The app works well, though the free version only does the hour and half-hour.

What worked best for me, in terms of getting the kids excited about the clock, is telling (or acting out) a story with the events happening at different times. Utilizing the clock with the moveable hands, the children take turns moving the clock hands to the right time.

Story leads: The most easily adapted “time” story is simply retelling a version of Cinderella.  At various times during the story, call out the time and an event. For example, at 2:30 Cinderella drew her stepsister’s bath, at 10:00 Cinderella’s godmother appears, and, of course, at 12:00 Cinderella runs away from the ball.

Another easily adapted story is Audrey Wood’s King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub. In this particular story, I swapped out words like “dusk” for a specific time.

If you are hesitant about editing a storyline, The Clock Struck One by Trudy Harris calls out the time during the story. The times mentioned are the hours only, but for a younger age class it would be an advantage.

Themes: Time, Clock,  Math


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