Teaching Kids Telling Time to the Minute: A Guide with Free Printable Worksheets

“Do you know what time it is, mom?” My kids ask me this question multiple times a day. They ask because they are waiting for something, or because I have told them “in 30 minutes.” Each time they ask, I try to explain to them how to read a clock so that they can answer the question themselves. Whenever possible, I try to teach my kids through hands-on experiences. Instead of simply telling them the time when they ask, I show them a clock and read the time with them. And you know what? It’s working. My kids learned to read an analog clock at age 5. In this blog post, I want to share with you how we achieved this and provide you with free printable worksheets to practice telling time to the minute. These worksheets include real clock images to help children visualize the concepts they are learning.

1. Start Teaching Time When They Learn to Read Numbers

Kids do not learn clock in one day. It is a process. I started to teach my kids the clock when they learned to read numbers 1 to 12. In the beginning, they learned only hours. They were able to say it is before 8, it is after 8 or just it is 8 o clock.

2. Explain how the time works and meaning of the basic words.

There is a lot to explain when it comes to telling time. Understanding the basic concepts and terms is crucial for learning how to read a clock.

  • First, it is important to know that there are 24 hours in one day.
  • The hour hand of a clock needs to circle the clock twice to complete one day.
  • There are both analog and digital clocks, and the numbers may look different on each type of clock.
  • In an analog clock, the shorter hand points to the hour and the longer hand points to the minutes.
  • It is important to know that there are 60 minutes in one hour.
  • Half an hour is when the long hand points to the 6, and a full hour is when it points to the 12.
  • To count the minutes, you can use skip counting by 5 on each number on the clock.
  • When there are three hands on a clock, the longest one indicates seconds.
  • There are 60 seconds in one minute.

It is important to remember that children learn best through play and repetition. I repeated these rules many times before my kids learned to tell time. I never explained all the rules at once, and instead let it happen naturally. For example, I would say something like “Look, the short hand is on the number 3 and the long hand is on 12. That means it is 3 o’clock” or “The short hand is between 6 and 7. That means it is after 6 o’clock. The long hand is on 3, which means it is 15 minutes past 6.”

You can download free printable telling time to the minute worksheets to practice with your child at the end of this post. The worksheets include pictures of real clocks to help children understand how to read an analog clock.

3. Start with 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes

It is much easier to learn a rule big arrow on 3 which means it is 15 minutes or quarter than learn how to read it is 17 minutes past 7. I started by teaching them to recognize just four positions of the minute arrow.

4. Practice telling time with your child

Practicing telling time with your child can be challenging, especially during a pandemic when routines have been disrupted. In March 2020, I found myself at home with a preschooler and a 1st grader, and I needed to come up with a way to keep my younger child engaged while also juggling online lessons and other responsibilities.

To help my son understand the concept of time, I created a daily routine plan.

We started our group plan by drawing a list of things we will do that day. We needed also to see when it is time to do the next activity. So, I started to draw an analog clock next to each activity.

Each day I took a new paper. I draw 6 horizontal lines. Then I draw an analog clock (without arrows) in each horizontal space I got. Each day we discussed what we will do. He could give me an idea of what he would like to do, I listed what we should do like math, language, and coffee break for me. We draw 6 activities in each of the horizontal spaces. Then we draw clock arrows to show when each activity will start (we started with simple half hours).

We started with simple half-hours and progressed to more complex time increments. I saw that my son was interested in using the plan and was able to understand the concept of time, so I created a printable template in Canva. If you would like to purchase my template, check out my Etsy store.

With time my son started to draw time by himself.
Kindergartener creating a daily routine
He draws what we will do.
Daily routine chart created by kindergartener
One of the group plan we created.

With time I saw big progress. He wanted to draw arrows in the clock by himself. He was checking the time to follow a group plan. Now we do not use the group plan every day. There is no need for that. But I can recommend it if you want to teach time-telling and basic time management to your child.

Download free telling time to the minute worksheets

Did you know how many analog clocks we can see every day? I never thought about it until one day my son told me “I can’t read grandpa’s clock, it looks different.” Then I started to pay attention. I saw bigger and smaller numbers, clocks with and without numbers, big and small clocks, and clocks with 3 and 2 arrows. I began taking pictures of them. Eventually, I collected most of the pictures for today’s worksheet.

For today, I have prepared a PDF file with four printable pages. On each page, you will find 9 pictures of clocks. Print them out and have your child write the time they see on each clock. I hope you and your child will find this worksheet engaging and useful.

What time it is a free printable worksheet for kids
Free printable worksheet "What time it is?" for kindergarteners with real clocks pictures.

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What time is it free printable worksheet with analog clocks
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